Okay, anyway, back to my own meandering plot here.
Teddy's just had a mixed bag of a Christmas break, with a fun holiday at Weird World followed by a bittersweet Christmas at home and a trip to the sanctuary in France, where he meets some of the werewolves his parents rescued. He relaxes for the final week or so of his break and is in a pretty good mood going back to school with his friends.
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
The first year hex war began again in earnest within a few days of the return to school. Teddy wasn't entirely sure who re-started it, but as George had restocked Victoire's prank supply over holidays, he had strong suspicions on the matter. Whoever started it, by the first Friday, Story Shacklebolt had sprouted a tail, Megan Twist (a Ravenclaw) had started singing everything she said, Chuck Senders of Gryffindor had turned developed a blue and bronze tartan pattern in his hair and retaliated against Leon Nesbitt by feeding him a potion that made him fall asleep in class, and Victoire herself had got warts and a hooked nose. Madam Pomfrey got everything fixed, but the Headmistress drew the line when an errant Gryffindor (Teddy suspected Kirk Scrimgeour) made the stones slick in the seventh floor corridor, which had ended with a pile of teachers falling over one another. The first years of both Houses were given a massive detention on the first Saturday back, Filch providing each of them with a mop and a bucket of soapy water, with the instruction to clean all of the staircases in the castle. On the way to Hufflepuff for Muggles and Minions, Teddy and Ruthless passed Victoire and Story, who were working together cheerfully enough on the staircase that led down from the Great Hall. Victoire was trying to explain that if the group could get organized and do everything in a logical order, they'd be done before lunch. Story seemed to be trying to convince her that her classmates might not take the suggestion particularly well.
Ruthless rolled her eyes and grinned, and Teddy reached out to take her hand. She seemed surprised by it. They had failed to find a spot on the first night back that wasn't already taken up by some other reuniting couple--Teddy's room would be private enough, but neither one of them suggested it--and hadn't really spent any time alone together since. Busy, Teddy guessed.
"So," she said, "is your godfather going to teach again this year, or just hang about?"
Teddy shrugged. "I'm not sure. I think he's skipped a couple of years, but I don't see why he'd skip this one, as he's here anyway. But it's usually autumn term."
"That's what I was thinking." She shifted her hand, and her fingers laced through his. "I hope he does. I like his classes. I think..." She turned to him, biting her lip. "I think I'd like to be an Auror," she said, then quickly added, "Don't tell anyone."
"Because everyone wants to be an Auror. They'll think it's silly."
"Your great-uncle was head of the department," Teddy said. "And Minister of Magic. And he died to protect Uncle Harry, even though they didn't like one another very well. I don't think anyone would think it's silly."
She frowned impressively. "Don't tell," she repeated. "I might change my mind anyway. I might want to be a... I don't know, something, instead."
Teddy grinned. "I think you'd make a smashing something."
"Well, it's certainly better than nothing."
They came around the corner and found the Hufflepuff still life propped open by the hulking form of Frankie Apcarne, who was hunched over his books. He'd come back from holidays to the horrible knowledge that his O.W.L.s were in only a few months, and Teddy hadn't seen him with fewer than four textbooks all week.
Ruthless let go of Teddy's hand and scooped up all of the books on the floor. "Come on, Apcarne. You'll definitely fail your O.W.L.s if they have to cart you away raving before June."
"I was going to stop," Frankie said. "Really."
"Mm-hmm," someone said skeptically from inside, and Teddy saw Tinny Gudgeon at a table, also surrounded by books, but in her case, they were Muggles and Minions references. She was apparently covering for Frankie's Urban Planner duties again.
It took ten minutes for everyone to arrive (except for Story and Victoire, whose characters were sent on a "shooting spree," which Tinny said was what Muggles called it when they had to go somewhere to make a film; Roger looked like he was going to disagree with her, but blushed when she looked at him and said nothing). Instead of an enemy, Tinny had made up a very large disaster, which involved floods, fires, and--she revealed this with an air of hard-earned wisdom--something called an "imminent nuclear meltdown." Teddy, Ruthless, and Donzo were assigned this last, and spent the afternoon rolling to get by guards who didn't believe that there was a problem and to get past all sorts of electronic security systems and avoid something called radiation sickness. Roger explained this as something like picking up symptoms from a Cursed object, except that the object didn't mean to do it, and had some practical use beyond cursing. The other groups worked on other fronts.
Ruthless offered to go get lunch, but took Maurice and Bernice with her instead of Teddy. Zachary declared this a godsend, as it meant they might get lunch before it was cold. There was some merriment at Teddy's expense, but it was good-natured. Teddy was beginning to feel like an elder statesman in the girlfriend-having business, even if he hadn't kissed Ruthless since they'd both ended up with their mouths full of ashes.
Once the game was over, Ruthless decided to go flying around the grounds, and Teddy decided to practice his balance, as Dudley had suggested. He went down to the rocky shore of the lake and started going backward and forward on the lumpy surface. He couldn't keep his arms from pinwheeling at all, and ended up sitting in shallow, near freezing water when a stone turned under his foot. When he got back to Gryffindor Tower, he huddled up by the fire to get warm. Victoire and Kirk were either doing their homework or strategizing for the next round against Ravenclaw. He decided it was the latter when Chuck Senders came over, looking determined, with several paper tags sticking out of his Charms book. The first year girls had apparently been inspired by the detention to join the war, if they were going to be punished for it anyway, as Mina Moran appeared from the girls' staircase dragging Victoire's trunk a moment later.
Teddy listened to them for a while, wishing he were in their year and participating, mostly waiting for Ruthless to get back. He finally saw her come through the portrait hole, but she just waved to him and went on up to her room.
He frowned, ill at ease.
His jeans were dry now and his face quite toasty, so he went up to his room. Checkmate begged for a game of chase. He picked up her favorite charmer and played with it aimlessly, finally securing it under his mattress and setting the string to wave around magically while Checkmate bounced at it. He took Dad's wedding ring from the chain on his neck, set it on a blank piece of parchment, and worked its Charm, hoping that one or the other of his parents would have helpfully supplied a memory about not getting a kiss for two weeks and then being waved to across the common room, to see if it meant anything ominous. Of course, there was no such memory--they'd saved their happiest and most important memories for him, and sometimes other things had got dragged along (Dad's new spell hadn't worked perfectly, which Teddy thought an improvement over perfection in this case), but confusion over someone's behavior didn't really fit either category.
The best it could do was bringing Teddy to a memory he'd had once before, a day with the Marauders in Hogsmeade, obtaining some used furniture from Madam Rosmerta which they would later use to furnish their dormitory. He supposed the ring chose that memory because James Potter had been musing over the Meaning of Lily, but they were all quite mystified, and therefore had no help to offer whatsoever. He was beginning to wonder if the Marauders weren't all a bit clueless about girls. Despite Sirius's swaggering, even he never seemed to know what they were thinking, and if he got confused enough, he just moved on to someone simpler.
Through Dad's teenage eyes--Teddy sensed that he was fourteen in this memory--he saw James hoist a chair onto his shoulders as they trudged back toward school. Sirius had the other chair, and Dad and Peter were rolling a table. James sighed deeply. "Do you think she's right in the head?" he asked. "She's friends with Snivelly, and that can't mean anything good."
"Sorry, mate," Sirius said, "the House of Black has my perception skewed about what's right in the head and what's not. Can't help you."
"She doesn't care about Quidditch!"
"I don't care about Quidditch, either," Dad offered.
"That settles it, then," Peter said, "she is crazy. Same symptoms as Lupin. Well... most of them."
After this, the memory faded into a snowball fight, the furniture pocketed in little protective charms while they pelted each other. The object became to stand on top of the table and defend it against the others. Dad won, and James and Sirius put him on one of the chairs, lifting it up and carrying it to the gate like a sedan chair, then dumping him unceremoniously down while they went back for the rest. The subject of the girl mystery was dropped; the memory ended, and Teddy was left without answers in his dormitory. He tried a technique from his Divination book to try and Conjure a dream of Mum when he went to sleep--a piece of parchment under his pillow with the incantation Somnium Dora Lupin placed on it--but the dream it brought was as unhelpful as the memory. She appeared and they sat on either side of the table from Dad's memory, but she didn't say anything after Teddy finished his question. She just smiled and nodded.
He woke up frustrated. Maybe he should try Nymphadora. That might get her mad enough to open her mouth. He realized he was getting angry at her, which was a pointless sort of emotion, so he cut off the train of thought and decided not to try the spell again. She couldn't answer his questions because she was dead, not because he hadn't annoyed her sufficiently.
He supposed he could ask Granny, but he couldn't think how to write it in a letter.
In the end, he decided there was really only one logical person to ask, so he waited until Thursday evening, waiting impatiently for Uncle Harry to appear in the entrance hall.