Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Uncle Harry listened without interrupting, walking slowly through the Hogwarts grounds toward Hagrid's cabin. Teddy finished just as they got to the pen where Buckbeak was poking at a manger full of dead rats. They both bowed to him, distracted, and sat down on a bench by the wall. Uncle Harry knocked on the window to let Hagrid know they were there, but shook his head to indicate that they weren't there for supper.
"Why didn't you tell me you were doing this?" he asked when Teddy fell silent.
"I didn't know if I'd find anything. It might have been stupid."
"It might still be. You're allowed to do things that don't work out."
"I know. But I was worried that you'd end up wasting your time just because... you know."
"Because I love you?"
"Well, I suppose I'm glad you know I probably would follow up on anything you had in mind, though it means you don't consider me a brilliant Auror and infallible division head. I'm not sure I'll survive the blow." He smiled faintly. "I'm not sure how I feel about you getting this close to Greyback's mind."
"Well, I don't want to kill anyone or eat anyone, if it makes you feel better."
Teddy bit his lip. "Is it any good?"
"Yes." Uncle Harry sighed. "You have good instincts. If you want a post when you get out of school--"
"No," Teddy said. "Thanks, but no."
"Well, if you rethink it..." He shrugged. "I'm going to look into it. It's not going to look like anything at first. Our relations in that part of the world have been a bit strained since Voldemort broke into Nurmengard. I'll contact Viktor Krum. His wife's brother is in their magical law enforcement department. He may be able to help keep feathers unruffled."
"They don't imagine we sent Voldemort?" Teddy asked, alarmed.
"They don't especially care," Uncle Harry said, then shook his head sharply. "You don't need to worry about that. I'll take care of the politics. Now that there's some good reason I can give them for poking around in the forest, maybe they'll be a little more willing to help us anyway. Meanwhile, will you please get Greyback out of your head? I don't want him in there any more than he's forced himself to be."
"I can handle it," Teddy said.
"The point is that you shouldn't have to. Go play games. Do your homework. Snog your girlfriend."
"She broke up with me."
Uncle Harry feigned shock, then said, "Shall I arrest her?"
Teddy laughed. "No."
"Just scare her a bit, maybe?"
"Really, it's quite all right."
"Oh, come on. Just one nasty curse."
Teddy rolled his eyes, and the conversation about Greyback seemed to fall further and further away, until it was impossible to remember that only an hour ago, he'd been with Professor McGonagall in the past, in some impossibly distant world where Astrid had lived in her squalid cabin with her vicious son Fenny.
Uncle Harry walked him back up to the castle, where he was able to squeeze in for the very last few minutes of supper. Ruthless gave him a guilty look. He threw a pea at her. Her eyes widened comically, then she laughed, and threw it back. They didn't talk, and they didn't walk back to Gryffindor Tower together, but still, she did throw a pea at him. And laugh. The weirdness might pass.
He'd forgotten that Victoire was in his room, and was surprised by the flicker of candlelight until he remembered. She was still at his desk--the room looked mercifully uncorrected--scratching at an essay that was rolling off the back toward the floor.
"I'm almost done," she said. "I just need to put in something about Clabbert dung."
"What essay would work without Clabbert dung?" Teddy asked, pulling out his books and going to sit in the window nook. He left the door open, as Victoire was a girl. Checkmate disengaged herself from a play fight with Bushy long enough to attack his dangling shoelace.
"Do your remember the day it got away? Your Clabbert from Hagrid's class?" Victoire said.
"Well, it was throwing its dung, and some got all over Story. We decided to try it as fertilizer with our Jumping Juniper. It actually made it calm down!"
"Really! I think it's because Clabberts are danger-sensers, and that makes the plant know when it's not in trouble. So we've been getting Clabbert dung from Hagrid since September, and we've got quite a lot of information."
Teddy looked at her sprawling essay. "I can tell."
"Can I finish here? I think it's only a few more paragraphs."
Teddy supposed there were a hundred reasons to say no, but they all sounded silly in context. She was Victoire, after all. A girl, but not a girl, per se. So he shrugged and let her finish up at his desk while he read a few chapters from his Transfiguration book. Finally, she made a great flourish with her quill and smiled in a self-satisfied way. "Done."
"Good," Teddy said.
She looked at him blankly for a minute, then said, "Well, I'll go then."
She dried the ink on her essay, then rolled it up and tucked it carefully in her purse. Bushy didn't immediately want to leave his game of chase with his sister, so Teddy had to put down his book to pick up Checkmate while Victoire gathered Bushy. The cats furiously bumped noses.
"We should bring them to the Common Room more," Teddy said. "I think the Common Room is safe enough."
Victoire agreed that this was a fine idea, and promised to bring Bushy down every night, if Teddy would bring Checkmate. She left a few minutes later, looking put out about something, though Teddy had no idea what.
He thought he'd set Greyback aside, as Uncle Harry had told him to do, but in his dreams, he saw Astrid in the Headmaster's office, and her blood splashed onto the walls of the horrible cottage. He saw the child Fenny, whose face he could only imagine, sitting up in the Gryffindor Common Room, waiting for a weak child to come along. At one point in the dream, he saw his father, his grandmother Julia, and Fenny, all the same age, sitting in the chairs by the fireplace. They seemed to be ignoring one another, but someone had bound them all up together with tendrils of the Lionbloom. Teddy tried to scream for Dad and Julia to get away, but nothing came out. They couldn't turn, anyway, couldn't talk to him. They were both dead. Fenny, on the other hand, winked at him obscenely.
The next morning, he got a note of thanks for tea from Professor McGonagall, who chose to ignore the vast majority of their conversation and say that she enjoyed discussing his question about Animagus forms and Patronuses. She recommended several books which she thought he might enjoy on the subject. Teddy thought this strange, as he didn't remember being especially enthusiastic, then he remembered that she had been the Marauders' teacher as well. He wondered if, after she'd found out what they'd done for Dad, she'd gone to the library to see which Transfiguration books had their signatures.
He found that he wasn't curious. An odd sort of numbness seemed to have come down around him. He spent time with his friends, even got along well with Ruthless. He did well at his lesson with Uncle Harry on Thursday, and didn't ask about Greyback. He enjoyed a Muggles and Minions game that Frankie took time out from studying to put together. He trimmed a Clabbert's toenails and managed to actually see something in the water around his tea leaves in Divination, though Professor Trelawney was less than impressed with his prediction that she would lose one of her shoes on the way back from Hogsmeade. That it happened didn't improve her mood.
All of this seemed to be happening at a distance while he waited to know what had come of Uncle Harry's search. The dreams were the only things that felt urgent, and even they didn't seem real. Now and then, he'd find himself on Tirza's ship again, and she seemed to desperately want to talk to him, but he continued to ignore her. It was like being stuck between Floo points, in the place that was no place, except that here, he felt no wonder. He was just living in a bubble, waiting for something to happen.
The bubble burst on Monday, a week and a day after Teddy had talked to Uncle Harry. He was reaching for a carafe of orange juice when the post owls swooped in with the Daily Prophet for everyone who subscribed.
The headline was huge, four letters that took up a quarter of the page: RAID. Opposite it was a picture of Uncle Harry, Ron, and a few other Aurors leading seven ragged-looking people across a windswept roof.
Teddy read the article, his numbness dissipating. Greyback hadn't been caught, but they'd found the main camp, and rescued several local children who were being held there. Thirteen werewolves altogether had been arrested, but only the seven in the picture had been extradited to Britain; the other six were being held in Nurmengard.
Everyone was excited about this, and it was the major subject of every class (except History of Magic, of course). Trelawney claimed to have foreseen it. Professor Flitwick talked about the Aurors' Charms and hexes. Robards explained how the Aurors had to have worked together. Hagrid gave them a break from Clabberts to talk about werewolves.
Teddy hadn't realized how frightened everyone had been until something happened that made them realize they could take action against what was frightening them. The response--for that day--was elation.
It was the next day that Mathilde Dubois introduced herself.