What ruined his hobby was discovering that in the cheap romance his mother had been reading, the heroine had rushed into a battle she'd promised to stay away from, and everything came out hunky-dory, leading him to the disturbing idea that Fifi LaFolle might be complicit in his mother's death--that she might have been silly enough to get herself killed trying to act like a romance novel heroine.
I think I switched Houses on one of the first year space-fillers. I'll fix it later.
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Teddy dreamed again of being a cabin boy on Tirza's ship. He was curled up in his cabin, a scratchy blanket wrapped tightly around him. Through a porthole, he could see the island, where the Malacquis troops were laying siege. Outside, Tirza was pounding on the door, telling him to let her in, but he didn't move. At the bottom of the door, he could see her feet. She was wearing green and purple toe socks. He turned his back and stared out the porthole while she yelled. At some point later, a pair of pirates came in and threw him into a boat (it wasn't clear why they could get in when Tirza couldn't). They took him to the island, where Holt tried to get him to drink the Pacifying Potion. He lay down in the sand, but the sun wasn't warm, and the garish green leaves went dull and lacy with rot. The island dissolved around him, leaving him in the cold ocean, and he fought with the waves until he woke up.
He got his breakfast at the Gryffindor table, then took it over to Hufflepuff, where he ate with Frankie and Tinny. Frankie had pictures of his brother and sister from Christmas. Mac had got a toy cauldron ("Complete with child-safe moving flames!") and seemed to be trying to brew handfuls of tinsel from the tree. Carny had been allowed to have her ears pierced, and the pictures of her were all showing off about a million different pairs of earrings. Frankie showed Teddy the ones he'd bought for her, which were tiny dogs that actually yipped when pinched. "She says they're her favorite," he announced proudly.
Teddy suggested that they spend the morning having a jaunt in the Forbidden Forest, as had been a habit for his first two years at Hogwarts, but Frankie looked terrified at the thought of losing that many studying hours, so it didn't happen. Tinny rolled her eyes behind his back. Teddy went to the library with them and practiced Charms from a book called The Outrageous Incantation Guide for Wizards, cheering himself up by managing to get a pair of quills to turn into small swords which dueled one another for everyone's entertainment, at least until Madam Pince came over and raved about them being dangerous, just because Tinny had a little cut on her hand from trying to direct them, and had bled on one of the books.
After lunch, he went back to Gryffindor Tower. Checkmate was frantic, and he saw her paw jutting out from under the door even before he opened it. She clawed at his jeans until he picked her up, then purred directly into his ear.
"Oh, come on, Checks," he said. "I'm sorry. Really. I didn't mean to--"
But he had to close his mouth on the apology, as she had decided that his face needed grooming, and he preferred to not have her decide to brush his teeth for him. It didn't seem very nice to make her stop after ignoring her for days, so he let her keep going, even though her coarse tongue felt like it was scraping off his skin, until she tired of it on her own. She dug her claws into the shoulder of his robes, and wouldn't let him put her down. He read ahead in his Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook for an hour or so, scratching her between her shoulder blades while she purred. At three, he decided he'd do well to wear a clean uniform to tea with Professors Longbottom and McGonagall, but Checkmate had to be pried away, and still cried pitifully while he changed. He felt quite guilty about leaving her alone again. On a whim, he promised her that he'd be right back, and went down to the Common Room and waited at the bottom of the girls' stairs. Mina Moran came down a minute later, and he asked if she could send Victoire.
Victoire appeared, looking confused. "What is it?"
"This is going to sound very stupid," Teddy warned her.
"Can I borrow your cat? Just to leave in my room with Checks until I get back. She's been bored."
"Can I go up with him?"
"I won't be there."
"Yes, but you have the Palace of Peaceful Solitude up there, and I didn't finish my essay for Herbology. Couldn't I just use your desk while you're gone? The others are making a great racket up there, and the Common Room is a lost cause."
"What about the library?"
"I'm banned for a week. Madam Pince got caught in a hex I meant to send at Gavin Keane. It would just be while you were gone. Please?"
Teddy agreed to this, on the condition that she not invite anyone else in, and not rearrange any of his things or try to organize his homework. Or leave any pranks around. She thought these reasonable terms, though when she got there a few minutes later, her homework tucked between Bushy and her chest, she couldn't resist suggesting that his homework would go more smoothly if he changed the way he had his book shelf set up. He narrowed his eyes at her until she held her hands up in surrender.
Checkmate and Bushy were happily grooming one another and Victoire had settled in at his desk when he left for tea ten minutes later. He saw her absently sorting the spare quills he had in a mug, but decided not to do anything about it.
He paused at the door of greenhouse three and straightened his robes. He hadn't paused at the thought of inviting an adult to talk to him, but now that it was upon him, he wasn't entirely sure of the protocol. At the back of the greenhouse, he saw Professor Longbottom stand up and wave to him. He took a deep breath, opened the door, and went in.
It was very warm inside, and the air was rich with the scent of soil and green things. Professor Longbottom was lounging comfortably on chaise he'd Conjured, while Professor McGonagall sat stiffly on a wooden chair. Between them, there was a glass table of the sort one might put in a garden. There was a tea set and plate of sandwiches, and others with sweets and pastries. These were set beside a shallow stone basin with runic symbols on it. Silvery thought-clouds swirled around inside of it.
"I know you and Professor McGonagall have things to talk about," Professor Longbottom said, "but please have tea first. How do you take it?"
"Two lumps, and cream, if it's no trouble," Teddy said. The tea set went about getting a cup together as he sat down on a fringed ottoman. He looked at Professor McGonagall. "I hope I'm not bothering you."
"I'm retired, Mr. Lupin," she said. "That means that I find myself with a great deal of time on my hands, and I assure you, very few requests strike me as bothersome. Yours I find rather interesting. I wasn't sure whether you cared to share it with Professor Longbottom or not."
"I admit that I'm curious," Professor Longbottom said.
Teddy shrugged. "It's probably just a stupid idea. But I thought... well, I thought Greyback might be hiding somewhere he would have heard about from his mother, and I don't know anyone else who knew her."
"That makes sense to me." Professor Longbottom offered him a plate of pastries. "Did you tell Harry?"
"Not yet." Teddy selected a promising-looking custard creme, and plucked his tea from the air. "It might not even be anything."
"Well, we'll see, won't we?" McGonagall said, smiling thinly. "I admit, I do enjoy a chance to be here."
"Miss it, do you?" Professor Longbottom asked.
"After more than forty years of my life? Of course I do."
Teddy let their conversation go on around him, answering questions when they were asked, sometimes filling Professor McGonagall in on life in Gryffindor (Professor Longbottom pretended not to hear some of this). When the sandwiches and pastries were gone, they were all quite comfortable, and Teddy felt part of it. Professor Longbottom got to his feet and said, "Well, it's been quite nice--we really must do this again, Professor McGonagall--but I have essays to mark in my office, and I believe you and Teddy have work to do. Feel free to stay as long as you need to. Unless it's past curfew, of course." He nodded and left.
Professor McGonagall waited for him to close the door, then asked, "Have you ever used a Pensieve? I seem to recall that your grandfather owned one..."
Teddy shook his head. "They smashed it when they destroyed his office at St. Mungo's. The Death Eaters, I mean, when they accused him of stealing magic. Granny put it back together after the war, but the spell was broken."
She wrinkled her nose. "How petty. I'm sorry about that. I assume you're aware of how the Pensieve works?"
"Well, I've taken my memories already. We'll just enter them. We'll begin the day I first met Astrid, though there are a few other memories there. And Mr. Lupin, I must warn you that I softened the story somewhat in my telling. Nothing involving Fenrir Greyback is a gentle tale."
She nodded, and pulled the Pensieve to them. Together, they leaned over it, and tumbled through the surface, into dim stone corridor that Teddy knew ran from the library to the Transfiguration classroom.
"I thought I'd start a few minutes early," she said. "Only a few, but I thought there was someone you might like to meet, though she doesn't play a role in the story."
Teddy looked at her; she was smiling oddly.
A door opened, and a young Minerva McGonagall came out of it. To Teddy's surprise, she was rather lovely, in a very strict way, although she did her best to hide it with a severe hairstyle and fussy robes that made her look older than she was. She looked down the corridor. A girl was coming toward her. The girl had a prefect's badge on her robe, and had tied off her light brown ponytail with two ribbons, one blue and one bronze-colored. She was very thin, and had light-colored eyes.
"Professor McGonagall," she said, "Professor Dumbledore told me to have you come to his office. A parent is here."
"Thank you, Julia," the younger McGonagall said.
The older one leaned over as Julia went away, ribbons bobbing cheerfully. "That's Julia McManus," she said. "She's in her seventh year here. Two years from now, she'll marry her mentor in the archives--a nice older man named John Lupin."
Teddy smiled. "I think I recognized her. She looks like Dad with a ponytail. Thank you."
Professor McGonagall nodded, and they followed her younger self down the corridor, to the rotating staircase that led to the headmaster's office. Teddy had never had occasion to visit Headmistress Sprout there, but he had been there once before he started school, when Aunt Ginny had showed it to him. They reached the top. The door was open.
A man with flowing auburn hair and sharp blue eyes stood up behind the desk. Teddy had seen pictures of Dumbledore, of course--who hadn't?--but seeing him face to face was a different experience. He nearly crackled with energy. "Come in, Professor McGonagall," he said. "Madam Greyback, this is Minerva McGonagall, your son's Head of House."
He moved aside, and a woman rose from a chair beside the desk. She was tall and had curly blond hair that was pulled back with a decorative clip. She was wearing a Muggle style dress, and nervously chewing gum. "Has Fenny been naughty?" she asked. "I really do try with him, but he's so wild sometimes. And of course, I can't do magic. It's hard to control him when I don't have the same powers he does."
Dumbledore sat down again. "Please take a seat, Madam Greyback. We need to discuss Fenrir, who has gone quite a bit beyond naughty lately."
While the younger version of Professor McGonagall told the story of the girl Greyback had attacked in the Common Room, Teddy came around Dumbledore's desk to get a better look at Astrid Greyback. His glance happened down onto the desk, where there seemed to be a letter of resignation from a teacher, and a letter open, of which he could only read, "...what we discussed on my previous visit..." It didn't seem related to Greyback, so he looked back at Astrid, who was twisting a handkerchief in her hands as she listened to what her son had done. Teddy noticed that she seemed upset, but didn't seem surprised.
"Oh, dear," she said when Professor McGonagall stopped talking. "Is the little girl all right? I'm afraid Fenny has always played a bit roughly. A boy needs a father to learn these things, and I'm all by myself."
The older and younger versions of McGonagall both ground their teeth. "Madam Greyback, this is a serious problem. It's an expulsion offense."
For the first time, Astrid Greyback seemed to understand the gravity of the situation. Her eyes went wide and she sat back in the chair, looking very small and frail. "Oh, no," she said. "Please don't send him home!"