Anyway, here Teddy is having some communication problems. He can't figure out why Ruthless isn't kissing him much, and he can't get any of his usual post-mortem advice from the Marauders or his parents. Wise Uncle Harry advises him to ask Ruthless, then gives him somewhat more useful counsel about not poking at his psychological wounds. On his way back, Teddy realizes that Greyback may have similar wounds to poke at, and writes to McGonagall to ask for any more information about Greyback's mother.
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
There was a Gryffindor-Ravenclaw Quidditch game that Saturday, and the Great Hall was festive with students wearing their House colors. Slytherin traditionally supported Ravenclaw, so Corky and Maurice had blue and bronze rosettes on. Hufflepuff held to its custom of supporting Gryffindor, although there always seemed to be grumbling about being "more than Gryffindor's cheering section." Teddy thought this silly, as Gryffindor was generally Hufflepuff's cheering section against the other Houses as well, and they'd been evenly matched when they played one another, but he supposed it didn't matter--they showed up in scarlet and gold one way or another, and no one was in doubt of their loyalties once the cheering started.
Ruthless was in a state of high tension. She pulled him behind a tapestry and said, "I don't suppose I could have a kiss, even if I've been odd?"
"Not bad," she said. "I think we're getting the hang of it, you know." She was nearly bouncing from foot to foot. "Are you going to wish me luck or not?"
"Good luck," Teddy said, as confused as he had been before, though less unpleasantly so. She went back to the team, and the festive pre-game activities at the table. Teddy followed, but got caught in a knot of first years, including Victoire, who were already counting up hexes and pranks to send at the Ravenclaw spectators. Glancing over at the Ravenclaw table, Teddy saw a similar group around Story. He thought it might be wise to skip the game, then decided that Ruthless wouldn't take it well. But he'd sit with the seventh years, he thought. As far from the mad first years as he could get.
An efficient looking barn owl arrived in the middle of this with a note from Minerva McGonagall.
I'm intrigued by your question, and quite glad you thought to ask me. I've arranged to visit Professor Longbottom for tea on Sunday, and he's indicated that you are welcome to join us. I have asked Madam Pince to send Professor Dumbledore's Pensieve to the greenhouses, and after we've talked, perhaps you would care for a more direct look.
Prof. Minerva McGonagall
Teddy wrote a quick acceptance to Professor McGonagall, and a second to Professor Longbottom. He was sitting at the high table, so it was just a matter of the owl dropping it off before moving on, but it seemed more proper than just running up and saying, "Coming to tea tomorrow, thanks."
He got it and nodded soberly in Teddy's direction, then rolled his eyes as the owl flew away.
The game took four hours, as the Snitch was being especially tricky. Honoria Higgs had somehow ended up commentating today--the days of a single appointed commentator had ended with Lee Jordan, and they'd decided to use the opportunity to make sure, in the future, that the commentator wasn't in either of the playing houses. The seventh years all seemed to have their group together, as did the second years, so against Teddy's better judgment, he ended up sitting with Victoire after all. She paid very little attention to him, as she was busy sending Kirk and Leon off with bundles of red and gold fireworks to sneak behind the Ravenclaw section. She posted Mina Moran as a guard to make sure no one was doing the same to Gryffindor.
Franklin Driscoll, one of the Ravenclaw Chasers, scored five goals early on, but after that, Ruthless made him her personal business, and he wasn't able to get around fast Bludgers for the rest of the day. Chet Fleming, a fifth year Gryffindor Chaser, was a right prat in person, but Teddy was glad he was on the team--he got four goals himself, so they were trailing by only ten, and Holly McKean, a second year girl who was new to the team this year, evened it up. "It's a new game!" Honoria said perkily. Teddy began to wish he'd brought Tirza and her pirates along.
Finally, Chet led a serious offensive and got Gryffindor ahead by fifty points. Unfortunately, the Snitch made its next appearance nearly on top of the Ravenclaw Seeker, and Ravenclaws took the game by a hundred points. The mood in the Gryffindor Common Room was funereal, and Teddy escaped it. He'd finished his weekend homework yesterday, so he took out The Lost Treasure, the fourth and final book in the Tirza series. He didn't bother doling this one out in tiny swallows. Mum had enough of these stored up to keep him occupied until he got bored with them.
Tirza and the pirates had rescued Holt from the prison in Australia at the end of the third book, and they'd had a joyful reconciliation. Brock was trying to talk the village witch into marrying him. And of course, in the midst of this, the evil Malacquis family returned to its dastardly attempt to hunt down Tirza, especially now that she was pregnant, as her child, by some legal loophole that Teddy suspected was made up for the book, could inherit everything out from under them. They decided for some reason that the best way to kill Tirza without raising suspicions of foul play was to draw her into the protection of a poor little island colony in the South Pacific, lost for a hundred years but conveniently rediscovered as the book opened. It seemed to be inhabited entirely by helpless, good people who were trying to magically bring peace to the world. The Malacquis family, in tandem with a corrupt magical government on a nearby island--both made up--launched a war on them, and Tirza and Holt and the whole pirate crew had to go in to save them. In the middle of it, Tirza had a son. Teddy began to get a dreadful, sinking feeling, but kept reading.
Holt ran off to battle. Tirza was supposed to stay on the ship, but didn't. She ran into the battle and saved Holt from the dastardly Baron Malacquis. The islanders made their potion, and, while it didn't bring peace to the whole world, it did pacify the Malaquis troops.
They all lived unrealistically ever after. Teddy looked at the picture on the cover. Tirza was standing on a beach with her little baby under lime-green palm trees, looking out over a sea so blue it hurt to look at. Holt was beside her, his long hair whipping in the wind, flying out to join hers so it was impossible to tell where one of them began and the other ended. Teddy wasn't sure what they were meant to be looking at so intently, as all three of them weren't on the island until after all the danger was gone.
There was a knock at the door. He checked the Marauder's Map and saw Ruthless outside, pacing in small circles. He went to meet her, slipping out into the corridor outside (Checkmate protested loudly when he nudged her back in).
Ruthless held out a covered plate. "You missed supper," she said. "And lunch, too. I thought you must be hungry."
"I missed supper?"
"It's ten o'clock, Teddy."
"Oh. I've been reading."
She nodded. "Well, I thought you'd be hungry," she said again, and started down the stairs. It was a gesture very unlike any he'd seen from her.
"Wait," he said. "What's going on?"
"Nothing, why?" She frowned. "Are you all right? You look angry."
A flight below them, one of the second year boys coming up from the Common Room looked at them curiously.
Teddy took Ruthless's hand. "Come on. If it's ten o'clock, it's probably pretty empty down there."
She nodded. "There were only a few people when I came through."
When they got down to the Common Room, Teddy spotted a pair of chairs near the window that were out of the way and out of earshot from the fireplace, where Victoire and Leon were building something that looked frankly dangerous. He pushed the chairs together to make a wall and block their view, then sat in one of them. Ruthless took the other.
"Are you going to break up with me?" she asked.
"Am I going to...?" Teddy shook his head. "No. I just... well... you said it yourself. You've been odd."
She sighed. "My parents think I'm too young to have a boyfriend," she said quickly. "They like you perfectly well and they think you're a good choice so they're not forbidding me completely, but they think I'm too young to have even a very good boyfriend and I promised I'd think about it." Once it was all out, she looked at him nervously.
"Oh," he said.
"I think they might be right. I don't want to be anyone's girlfriend." She looked deeply pained. "But I really like kissing you. Really. Even if we're not especially good at it."
Teddy couldn't think of anything to say to this, as he'd already used "Oh."
"And also, you're my best friend. Breaking up would be--well, you know. And what if we still want to kiss each other? I think I will for a bit, and I ought to stay away, as I've been doing, but that's miserable, because without you, I'm mainly stuck babysitting my little brother if I want company, and that means being bossed about by Victoire these days, and--" She sighed. "Is this why you were angry? Am I being one of those annoying girls? That's why I don't want to be anyone's girlfriend, it's turning me into--"
Teddy shifted in his chair and leaned over to kiss her, which surprised her into silence. He managed not to drool, and she didn't bruise or bite him. "I'm glad you were my first girlfriend," he said, then tried a smile, though he didn't really feel like it. He'd made a sworn blood oath to not be an idiot when it became time to break up, and he meant to hold to it, though he really wanted to start yelling at her, even though she wasn't really doing anything terrible. "Or does that break the googly-eyed rule?"
"Well, if we're breaking up, I guess the rules don't really apply. We might need new ones, though. Are we breaking up?"
Teddy nodded. "I'm going to go upstairs now."
"Are you all right? You look a little--"
"I'm going upstairs now," he said, then got up and left. He chanced a look back when he got to the base of the boys' stairs. Ruthless was standing by the chairs, biting her lip.
He turned away and went to his room, ignoring Checkmate's demands for play as he stacked up Mum's books and buried them at the bottom of his trunk.