Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Nate talked when he had something to say, but Evelyn contributed most of the chattering conversation as they went through the sanctuary village. She pointed out the neat, slate lined paths that had been put down over the years--"Nate's idea!" she said proudly--and the village center, where the werewolves met each month to eat heavily before the transformation, which apparently helped dull the pain of it.
"It's turned into a tradition now," Evelyn said. "Everyone comes, werewolf or not. People bring dishes to pass. Doesn't make the transformation any more pleasant, but it can only help to feel like life on either side of it is going to be good. I generally dress up for it. It's something that always makes me happy."
Nate laughed. "Do you remember when Lupin brought that cha--"
"Charity box!" Evelyn said, laughing loudly. She sat down on bench. "Lupin didn't actually bring that, though, remember? He just let us hide it in that shed he was living in." She smiled at Teddy. "We thought he was so fancy, living in a real house sort of thing. We were all living in caves. We were going there to play before he started teaching us. And when we got a box of charity clothes and books and so on, I found an evening dress. I imagine it was really someone's princess costume, but I thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world. Lupin explained to me about how such a thing would only be worn at an evening dance, and then I got him to tell me all about dances and other such lovely things. I imagined myself in some grand hall, dancing with a prince or whatnot. It was the first time I realized there was a whole world out there. I wanted to learn to read and dance and do all manner of human things."
"Did Dad teach you to dance?" Teddy asked.
"Not then," Nate said. "Greyback didn't let us dance properly. He didn't allow any, er..."
"Special friendships," Evelyn said, glancing at Neil. "Greyback rather thought we girls belonged to him. But I'd prefer not to go there. Your dad did teach me to dance, though, that last Christmas. He and your mum came here."
"Oh!" Teddy said. "I have a picture, I think. They came with a woman named Rachel, didn't they?"
"Yes. Rachel Berkowitz. And of course, Adelaide Robards. Your parents brought a lot of refugees through here. Those two were a trial. They did loathe each other."
"Hardly surprising," Nate snorted. "Given that they were both... special friends... with Gawain."
Teddy laughed, but shifted uncomfortably. Gawain Robards was his Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and a decent man. Teddy had a fuzzy notion that his marriage wasn't very good--he lived at Hogwarts and his wife lived in London--but he preferred to keep it fuzzy. "They looked very happy to be here. In the picture. My parents, I mean. Not Rachel and Mrs. Robards."
"Oh, they were," Nate said. "I thought they might just explode from it. Come on. I'll show you where we transform."
He led the way away from the village, along the neat paths. Neil followed along, looking dejected. Some of the houses were old, some clearly newly built as the children had grown up and chosen to move out of their communal homes.
"We were raised in a pack," Evelyn said. "We didn't really understand the idea of having guardians, though Valeska--Gabrielle's grandmother, I'm sure you'll meet her later--looked after the girls a bit. She's not a great one for boys, most Veela aren't, though she'll make an exception for Tonks's son, I'm sure."
"Here," Nate said as they reached a raised platform. "Those two pens down there--that's where we transform. Females on the right, males on the left. I built the platform so that the others can see if someone seems to have got hurt. It's too easy for there to be accidents."
"Do you use Wolfsbane Potion?" Teddy asked, before it occurred to him that it might be a rude question.
"We don't have anyone here who's qualified to brew it," Evelyn said. "So we just use the old fashioned ways of controlling it. Food, fellowship, good moods. Well, the oldest method, of course we don't use."
"Eating people," Neil said, speaking up for the first time since they'd left the hippogriff nest. "Greyback said that's the only thing that makes the pain stop." He fell back into silence. There was nothing to say to that.
Nate sighed. "That particular cure is obviously out of the question."
The tour went on, through the pens (which were actually self-contained little forests, which Evelyn said kept their minds occupied through the transformation) and into a little Healing clinic where a woman with short dishwater blond hair was treating an elderly elf for a skin infection. Evelyn introduced her as Coral, another member of the pack, who was trying to get a proper apprenticeship in Paris--Madame Maxime was doing her best to help--but was, in the meantime, doing what she could pick up on her own here. A few more of the children came out to gawk at Teddy, and finally, they circled back to the village square.
Père Alderman was waiting there, on the bench where they'd been sitting earlier. He stood up with a warm smile. "Teddy," he said. "Coral flooed to tell me you were here. I understand from Vivian that Greyback has decided to make you his pen pal. Are you all right?"
"Fine, thanks. I think Greyback could stand a tutor."
Alderman laughed. "When they get him back to Azkaban, I may just take that job on myself. Purely out of Christian charity, of course, and not at all because I think it would make him climb the walls."
"Alderman's morally perfect these days," Evelyn said.
"Yes, my confessor is very bored." He made a halo over his head with his fingers. "All the penance he assigns me is purely for his entertainment. There's never any cause for it." He leaned to one side, looking around Evelyn. "Neil? Why are you hiding?"
Neil peeked out, then turned and ran.
"I'll get him," Evelyn said, and went after him, catching him in a hug and smiling at him until he smiled back. She took his hand and led him toward the neat house where the three of them lived.
"Evvy seems happy," Alderman said.
Nate shrugged. "The circumstances are terrible, but she's enjoying the chance to be a mum. I think she's right good at it, too."
This seemed a private conversation, so Teddy cast around for something else. "Is the one who wrote the book here? The book that the Beauxbatons girls like?"
Nate made a face. "He only comes at moons now. We're not thrilled with him."
"Hamilton didn't mean for that to happen," Alderman said. "It was never the intent."
"Then why'd he write the damned thing?"
"Hope he's enjoying it."
Alderman seemed ready to pursue it, then just sighed and said, "Blondin, you need to learn to judge people by their intentions."
"Didn't I see something involving 'good intentions,' about how to pave roads that lead to somewhere unpleasant?"
"How in the world would he have guessed that a pack of girls in Paris would think kidnapping and cannibalism were signs of refined sensibilities?"
"Because he wrote the moons better than he wrote anything else. Even I thought the rest of the thing was boring."
They continued the argument, not so much ignoring Teddy as simply accepting his presence. Teddy listened with interest, contributing his thoughts on why teenage girls might have been interested--he told them about the Moonhowlers, and the students who liked them--which were accepted as equal to their own contributions. He asked if he could see a copy of the book.
"Why would you want to?" Nate asked, aghast.
"Well... they think one of the girls is helping Greyback. She liked the book enough to get cursed deliberately. She might like it enough to use it to find somewhere to hide."
Père Alderman raised his eyebrows, surprised. "That's a good thought," he said. "Do you read French?"
"A little bit," Teddy said. "Mostly spells."
"The French is advanced," Alderman said. "I'll go through it, though. Translate the passages that may suggest a hiding place. I'll send them on to Harry. You have a good brain in your head."
Teddy didn't press, though a part of him wanted to struggle through the French just to read something that one of Dad's students had written, about things that they'd all known. He guessed that they just weren't keen to have the book distributed any further than it already had been.
Uncle Harry came out a few minutes later with the older woman he'd been speaking to earlier. She smiled when she saw Père Alderman, then gave him a hug and proceeded to call him "Bobby" for the remainder of the visit. They were invited to lunch in Victoire's great-grandmother's house--a charmed building that looked like a forest on the inside (though one whose weather was always perfect), which Teddy recognized as the place where the picture of his parents had been taken all those years ago. Uncle Harry reminded him that Valeska was a Veela, and tried to warn him about her effect, but Teddy still found himself completely tongue-tied and confused, and was halfway through explaining how he was a secret Animagus who had orbited the Earth on a broomstick before he caught himself. Valeska seemed accustomed to it. Uncle Harry teased him unmercifully the entire way back to the Apparition point, where Teddy demanded an absolute oath on their very godfather/godson relationship that he wouldn't tell anyone, even Aunt Ginny.
He shook his head. "So you don't want me to tell your granny."
"And you don't think Bill and Fleur would find it funny?"
"I don't care."
"And you're sure I shouldn't send a letter to a certain Miss Scrimgeour?"
"NO!" Teddy put up his hand in a warding gesture.
They reached the Apparition point, and Uncle Harry said, "I'm sorry, Teddy. They're all going to ask. Well, maybe not Ruth. If I don't answer, they'll think it was worse than it was."
"You just want to laugh at it."
"Well, yes." Uncle Harry smiled and mussed his hair, then rolled his eyes. "If you grow much more, I'm going to have to reach up to do that, and it loses something in the process. So I forbid it. Come on, it's time to go home."
"Can I go through the Floo from your house? I didn't say goodbye to James and Al and Lily this morning."
Uncle Harry held out his arm, and Teddy took it. A moment later, they came out of the darkness of Disapparition in the square outside of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. Teddy went in and played with James and Al for a few minutes--they were building a very tall house of Exploding Snap cards, and had got it seven levels up before it blew up on all of them. He gave them hugs, then went down to the kitchen to kiss Lily and Aunt Ginny, then Flooed back to Granny's.
The next week went by in a pleasant haze of laziness. Teddy put off all of his homework and enjoyed spending time with Granny. He helped her get her basement office in order, and they went into Granddad's "Muggle Room"--a room across the basement from the office where magic was prohibited and most of his Muggle gadgets worked without any interference. There, they spent an agreeable day playing with Granddad's aging computer and watching films that featured Muggle machines that moved fast and frequently blew up. Another day, they lost track of time entirely reading in the parlor while a cold December rain fell outside. Granny got through a large book on the history of Muggle medicine, and Teddy plowed through the first two Tirza novels. Now that he had the fourth, he thought he'd finish up To the End of the Earth as soon as he got back to school.
Granny had dropped down to a part time schedule, but was still gone some of the time that Teddy was home, and he used those hours to listen to music and go through his parents' and grandfather's things, as he'd done frequently when he was small. After New Year, he settled in to do his work, and began to contact his friends again. He had a long chat with Ruthless over the Floo, at the end of which she reached into the fire and kissed him, ending with both of them nearly choking on ash, and Kirk, who'd wandered in, laughing crazily in the back. The call ended when Ruthless ran after him, screaming threats if he told anyone.
Corky's Portkey back from home was scheduled for the day before the Hogwarts Express would take them all back to Scotland, and, to Teddy's great happiness, he was allowed to stay at Granny's for the night. Uncle Harry brought him at six-thirty, along with Maurice, who was itching to get away from Wendell.
"If he asks the same question again, I'm going to kill him, then end up with all of my relatives in Azkaban," he muttered.
Teddy rolled his eyes and said, "Well, say hello to mine while you're there. And everyone else's."
The three of them spent a decent evening, during which Teddy taught them Tarot poker. The next morning, they left en masse for King's Cross, back to Hogwarts and the world they had made there.