Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Dumbledore looked at her shrewdly. "I will assume that you are concerned with your son's future."
"Well," Astrid said, "I... of course! He's my boy. My only child."
The younger Professor McGonagall leaned forward, frowning, and the older one leaned over to Teddy and said, "Please remember that I was quite young at this point."
The younger McGonagall said, "Is Fenrir's father able to help in any way? My own father--"
But Astrid Greyback was shaking her head rapidly. "He was taken by werewolves! Werewolves! He's not really there anymore."
"Lycanthropy doesn't alter his essential humanity," Dumbledore told her. "If you could tell us something of him, perhaps we could help you find him, should you wish his assistance." Unlike McGonagall, he didn't look hopeful. In fact, Teddy thought he looked deeply suspicious. "Where was he taken?"
Astrid looked back and forth nervously. "I... is this... Fenny doesn't know this."
"Nor will he, if it can be avoided," Dumbledore said kindly, though his eyes remained wary.
"We weren't... properly married." Astrid's mouth twitched in a nervous smile, and she swallowed hard. "I don't think you'll find him. He was on the continent. During the war?" She gave Dumbledore a significant look.
Dumbledore sighed heavily and pressed his fingers against his eyes. "He was in Gellert Grindelwald's employ."
"Yes," Astrid said. "You must remember that, at the time, we thought differently. He said that there was a place for everyone, even Squibs like me."
"I am sufficiently familiar with Gellert's philosophy," Dumbledore said.
"Right. Well, my family... they thought it sounded like he had the right idea, with Squibs learning what we were good for. They gave me a holiday in a camp meant to train me for life in the new order. It was to be something like a camp. I learned to chop potion ingredients, and help wizards who needed--"
"--who needed subjects on whom to experiment," Dumbledore finished.
"Yes!" Astrid seemed pleased at not having to explain a great deal, and not at all troubled by what he'd said. "I tried a potion that was meant to temporarily transfer memories once, and another time, I was charmed to see if I could be taught to dance prettily. It was quite fun at first. But since nothing seemed to work on me, they mainly put me in the chopping room. My fingers bled. I wanted to go home. It wasn't much of a holiday."
"I can imagine," the younger McGonagall said.
"The camp leaders--they watched us to make sure we didn't wander off and get lost in the woods--used to come through. They were often... friendly to us. I didn't like most of them. They wore these horrid fur capes. They smelled bad, like they hadn't been properly treated."
"Grindelwald used werewolf guards," the older McGonagall explained to Teddy. "That was, in his philosophy, their proper function in the world."
"I'm guessing these weren't nice werewolves," Teddy said.
"To put it mildly."
"One of them paid special attention to me," Astrid said, "and one day, he offered to help me get away. He knew how unhappy I was. We ran away to the woods together, and we stayed there for days and days. But then the werewolves took him away. I was locked in the cabin where we'd stayed. He didn't come back. I got frightened and I broke out. I was lost in the woods, just like they warned us. I finally came across a little cottage, where a witch and wizard lived. The witch brought me to the Zaubererreich, and they sent me home to England. They thought I didn't stay in my place." She looked down sadly. "I knew Fenny was coming by then. I didn't have a choice. I had to go back to my father, so I told him I'd been married while I was abroad. He gave me our little house before he died, when he realized Fenny was magical, and I wasn't the last in our line."
"And this is the story you've told Fenrir?" Dumbledore asked.
"I lied and told him we'd been married. Please don't tell him we weren't! I'm sure it was only because his father was a powerful wizard and wouldn't have been allowed to marry a Squib."
"What was his father's name?" Dumbledore asked. "Now that the Zaubererreich has ended, perhaps he would care to take a hand in his son's life."
"Oh, no. No, I'm sure he wouldn't." Astrid's face was deathly pale, her eyes preternaturally large.
Dumbledore seemed to have got the answer he was looking for, though she hadn't said anything at all. "When did Fenrir begin to play roughly?"
"Oh, he always did. Isn't that just the way boys are?" Astrid gave a watery sort of smile. "Please don't send him home. I'm sure he just needs a firm hand, like yours. You destroyed Grindelwald--I'm sure you can handle one little boy."
Dumbledore looked rather ill. "I'll consider what you've said." He looked up at a portrait. "Phineas, would you be so good as to find our Head Girl to take Madam Greyback to the gate?"
An irritated sigh came from above, and Teddy smiled despite himself as he looked up to see Phineas Nigellus, the never-changing, turn and stalk out of his portrait frame as though sentenced to the gallows. After a few minutes of awkward silence, Julia McManus came back and nodded politely to the mother of the child who would ruin her own child's life, then led her away.
"You surely don't intend to allow him to stay?" the younger Professor McGonagall demanded.
"I thank you for reserving that until Astrid was well away," Dumbledore said. "And in fact, I do intend to allow him to stay, after we've had a discussion with him. If he errs again, we will have no choice--he is a danger to other students--but I don't imagine he will become less dangerous when we relinquish him to his mother, do you?"
McGonagall straighted up. "He will be less dangerous to my students."
Dumbledore smiled faintly. "I always knew you would make a fine teacher, Minerva. But Fenrir is one of your students. Perhaps between us, we can undo some of the damage he's absorbed."
"Hmmph." She sat down. "She nearly sounded like she admired the Zaubererreich, after everything that happened to her."
"Of that, I'm quite sure."
"I can't even imagine..."
"Can't you? I assure you that Gellert would have found an appropriately high place in the world for a woman of your intellect."
The scene went suddenly white, and Teddy was thrown back into the greenhouse. The older Professor McGonagall, leaning on a walking stick, looked at him warily. "Did you find what you need?"
"I don't know what I'm looking for," Teddy said. "Did you ever see their house?"
She took a deep, heavy breath. "I did."
"May I see it?"
"Teddy, I'll show it to you, but I've grave misgivings about it." She sat down on the wooden chair where she'd taken tea. "Three years after Greyback's expulsion--for the incident a month after the attack on Twyla Dorne--the Wizengamot learned that he'd taken a werewolf's bite and become lycanthropic. A neighbor witnessed his transformation, and only kept him off by strong curses. He was called before the Wizengamot for failing to register, but Astrid came in his place. I was there to testify about his behavior prior to the bite. She said he'd run off, and didn't care to place himself in the Ministry's hands, and she didn't know where he was at any rate. They demanded that he appear for that night's full moon. She said she didn't think it would be possible. And they sent her home. He was of age, after all, and she could only be expected to do so much, especially if he'd left home. Of course, he didn't show up. But I found myself unable to sleep. You see, Astrid had looked quite ill at the hearing, as if she hadn't been sleeping. Her hands were shaking. And she had a great gash across her collarbone.
"I realized that he hadn't left home at all.
"I went to the Aurors, but there had been an attack the night before that they were certain of, and they had convinced themselves that it was Greyback, and weren't interested in checking on Astrid. Your grandmother's Uncle Alphard--he was a school chum of mine--was hanging about at headquarters, courting a pretty Auror whose name I don't remember, and when he noticed that I meant to go on my own, he insisted on coming with me.
"We were too late."
Teddy nodded, understanding. "He killed her?"
"Yes. And Teddy, if he was the werewolf the Aurors were after, then he killed Astrid before he transformed. It was... a messy kill. I don't know if I should take you there."
"I won't look at her. It's the house I need to see."
She still looked troubled by the idea of taking him, but, after what seemed a long time, pulled a silvery thread of thought from her head and let it swirl down into the Pensieve. She nodded at Teddy, and they fell back into the past.