Table of Contents and Summary So Far
He arranged to meet her in the anteroom outside the Great Hall after the afternoon's last class, and spent of the day thinking about the interview Uncle Harry had done with Rita Skeeter during his fifth year (and trying not to think of the disastrous one he'd mentioned from his fourth), which had changed the course of the war. He hurried out of Herbology--Professor Longbottom had been distracted, and kept looking out the windows--still smelling of sour fertilizer, and ran up to the castle as the sun set. Honoria was waiting for him, her dark hair up in a bun, trying to look very professional.
She spread out a piece of parchment on a table and held out her quill. "It's a BasiQuill," she said. "Like Quick Quotes, but without the style spells. It just records. You can test it if you'd like. Professor Slughorn doesn't allow Quick Quotes on the Charmer."
"I'm not surprised. How do I test it?"
"Just say 'BasiQuill accuracy test,' then say anything you want. Then say 'End test.' Then read it."
Teddy activated the Quill and said, "This is Ted Remus Lupin. Is this what I said? End test." He looked at it. It had recorded accurately enough. He looked back up at Honoria. "And you'll leave it as it is?"
"I'll make a story of it," she said. "I'm not going to just do a question-and-answer."
"I just don't want to end up looking like I said things I didn't. I heard about the TriWizard interview that Rita Skeeter did."
"Rita knows how to write a story that sells," Honoria said, shrugging indifferently.
"But it wasn't a true story."
"Well, Slughorn won't run anything without checking on it, especially from me."
"What's your angle going to be?"
Honoria narrowed her eyes. "You came to me, Lupin. Not the other way around. I'll be asking the questions. The first one is, why now? You haven't wanted to talk about this all year. Was it the article by Mathilde Dubois?"
"Well... of course it was."
"What can you tell me?" she asked avidly. "Do you know anything about the raid?"
"No. But I know about Greyback. He killed my grandmother's cat. He's been sending me little notes."
"Do you have them?"
"I have one. I burned the other."
Honoria frowned. "But you haven't actually met him?"
"Er... no. I met Mina, the woman who got him out of Azkaban. She showed up at the gate and said they meant to take me."
"Oh." Honoria took out a second, normal quill, and began jotting notes on another piece of paper. "After Mathilde was speaking from the inside, a couple of notes and a dead cat aren't going to get us far."
"You read what she wrote. An insider's perspective. She was there for the raid and saw everything. I don't suppose you could get your godfather to talk to me."
"I don't think so..."
"What about Vivian Waters? Was she part of the pack?"
"My father and mother rescued... I don't know if I can talk about Vivian. Her story doesn't belong to me to tell."
"Could you get her to talk to me?"
"Are you going to make her sound bad?"
Honoria shrugged. "That wouldn't be very interesting. Newsflash, werewolf is bloodthirsty. No, we have to do what Dubois did. Someone nice and innocent and just trying to get along. Only we'll make Greyback the villain!" She said this as though it were a lightning bolt out of a clear blue sky.
"That's not very hard to do," Teddy scoffed.
"After what Dubois did this morning?" Honoria sighed, and looked a lot older than she was. "Rita told me once that she doesn't just write nasty books because they're nasty. She writes nasty books because everyone loves to find out that something they thought was true isn't. People are mad for gossip, and that's why. They can put things together in some new way that makes them feel smarter than they were."
"Smarter for believing something idiotic?"
Another shrug. Teddy had a feeling that she was quoting Rita Skeeter directly. "Smarter because they're not going to be fooled by the 'official' story any more. So if you have someone like Albus Dumbledore, you write about how he was tempted by Grindelwald's psychotic ramblings--and probably his pretty hair, if you read between the lines--and people come out of it feeling like they've twigged to something. If you try to push the other version back, they'll get really defensive."
"Where does this come in with Greyback?"
"Because everyone 'knew' the werewolf pack was bad news and Greyback was thrown in Azkaban with the key tossed out for perfectly good reasons--"
"They were perfectly good reasons! He's a murderer!"
"--but now they feel like they're smarter, that they've understood some deeper truth. When the person starts out bad, the gossip's always making him good. And they're not going to believe something that makes them feel duped again."
"But she's the one who..." Teddy slammed his fist on the table and stood up to start pacing. "They'll listen."
"To Harry Potter's godson?"
"He's Harry Potter!"
"But they know better now. He was a hero. Now he's an over-zealous Auror, at best, and Ron Weasley--and they'll all know who she meant--tears screaming children away from their innocent caretakers. They've wised up. And you're all wrapped up in that. Unless you've got more than a dead cat a note, they won't care. If you have anything about what he did to your father..."
"I didn't exactly witness that, either," Teddy said dully.
"Did Vivian Waters?"
He looked down. "I'll talk to her. Will you wait? And if I get her to talk to you, will you be nice?"
She raised an eyebrow. "I think I can beat Mathilde Dubois at this."
"Seeing that you have truth on your side..."
"Oh. Right. I'm sure that will help, too."
Teddy looked at her with deep misgivings, wishing he'd thought twice before approaching her. She'd got kicked off the paper she'd started for being a vicious little gossip. Still, if she wanted to get back onto it, she'd have to impress Slughorn, and Slughorn wouldn't let her slur war heroes.
He nodded, and went upstairs to get his winter cloak. The Marauder's Map told him that Vivian was at Hagrid's, with Hagrid and Professor Longbottom. He checked it carefully for any splashes of red, indicating danger, but there were none. He headed downstairs.
Ruthless was waiting by the portrait hole. "I noticed you had that determined look," she said. "Are you doing something?"
"Can I help?" She looked at him hopefully, and he wished there were something, just so he could let her know he was glad she wanted to, but there wasn't.
He shook his head. "I'm mostly an errand boy in it," he said.
"Exploding Snap when you get back?" she offered, with a tentative smile.
He returned it gratefully. "Sure. I could always use some of your money."
It was forced, but all right. He climbed through the portrait hole and scurried off onto the grounds. The evening was cold and there was a light dusting of snow on the ground. His feet left a dull brownish-green trail behind him.
It was deep dusk, and the sky was a glowing midnight blue. The mountains made sharp black shapes against it, and the lake stretched away like an abyss. The Forbidden Forest was fully dark, and Hagrid's cabin, at its edge, cast flickering firelight out into the shadows. As Teddy reached it, he could see the back of Vivian's head. She was gesticulating wildly. The window was closed, but he could hear her voice raised inside.
He knocked on the door.
"Who is it?" Hagrid grunted.
"Yer call," he heard Hagrid say, and assumed he was talking to Vivian.
A moment later, the door swung open, and Vivian, the unscarred part of her face a livid shade of red, gave him a distracted greeting and went back to pacing. Teddy had imagined that she might be depressed or upset. He was glad to see that, instead, she appeared to be furious.
"Close the door, Teddy," Professor Longbottom said. "This is family business, not school business."
"It's apparently everybody's business," Vivian cut in. "The damned little"--she called Mathilde Dubois a name Teddy hadn't thought she knew--"and her stack of lies. Of course, she had to find time to tell one truth. I'm glad I never unpacked my bag."
"Yeh're not goin' anywhere," Hagrid said. "Dumbledore didn' let me go. Great man, Dumbledore. An' he shouldn' o' let Lupin go, but I reckon he had his reasons. An' I'm not lettin' you go. Reckon I need someone lookin' out for the grounds when I'm not here."
"I don't see where that's your choice."
"Yeh think I can't keep yeh here?"
Professor Longbottom smiled. "Hagrid, I don't think Vivian meant you couldn't force her to stay."
"Exactly. There are laws, and I'm breaking them. And if they let me out of it, everyone will know they're just playing favorites."
"What if everyone wants you to stay?" Teddy asked.
"Right. That's likely." She turned to him, looking apologetic. "I'm sorry, Teddy. The letters have already started to come. Professor Sprout didn't want me to see them, but I can see through the table. She'd got six of them before the end of lunch."
"So what?" Professor Longbottom said. "That's six. There could be six hundred--or six thousand--who don't want you to go."
"I didn't see any of those, and as Mademoiselle Dubois drew the battle lines, it's not like any potential supporters don't know."
"They don't know you," Teddy said. He bit his lip, feeling like he was trying to manipulate Vivian into doing something that he'd thought of, but he couldn't think of anything else. He didn't think the Prophet was going to send anyone, mostly because they obviously hadn't already. And Luna Scamander was off traveling again, so the Quibbler was a questionable contact. Honoria Higgs and the school paper were their best bet. "I was talking to Honoria Higgs," he said. He waited for Professor Longbottom to stop looking shocked, then went on. "She wants to try and undo what Mathilde Dubois did..."