Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Teddy felt vaguely nauseated as he made his way back to Gryffindor Tower, his stomach belatedly catching up with the fact that he'd managed to pick a fight with his godfather on the most personal territory they had between them. He could imagine his parents on the other side--possibly on a beach on Tirza's island, next to the dead, tie-dyed lethifold (and would something that was killed in the afterlife stay dead?)--looking at him with disgust.
Of course, a cool voice in his head demurred, they preferred Uncle Harry, anyway. He was more interesting, and a hero, and they died for him instead of staying with you. And who could blame them, if you're going to be such a brat about it? What kind of son are you, thinking your parents needed a teenager to rescue them, anyway? Or that they weren't devoted to you? No wonder they didn't want to stay.
He stopped in the corridor, hand on his stomach, thinking he might vomit here and now, and deal with Filch yelling at him for it. Perhaps he should go to Madam Pomfrey. She might have something.
Or perhaps he should just stop picking fights with Uncle Harry. Or with voices in his head, for that matter.
He took a shaky breath and looked over his shoulder. Victoire was standing in the corridor, her head cocked to one side, her large bag resting on her hip. "What?" he asked.
"Are you sick?"
"No. Where are you coming from? It's almost curfew."
"Only 'almost.'" She shrugged. "I put a cup of Mite-y Panthers in the curtain across the hall from the Ravenclaw door knocker."
She grinned. "From Uncle George, cooked up just for me. It's not really mites, just sort of a coarse powder. I dusted the curtain. Every time one of them brushes it, it'll roar."
"Wonderful. Does this mean we can look for screaming eagles in retaliation?"
"Well, sorry. Just having some fun." She started on toward the Fat Lady's portrait.
Teddy didn't feel like having another family fight just now, so he went to catch up with her. "No, you were right, I'm not feeling well. Stomach."
"Oh. Well, I think I have something..." She started digging in her bag as they walked.
Teddy held up his hand. "I think I'll check with Madam Pomfrey in the morning, and not risk turning into a rabbit or whatnot." He winked, though he didn't feel amused.
"Fine, just spoil all of my fun," Victoire said lightly. They reached the portrait and she said, "Confuto Inimicus."
"As it ever shall be," the Fat Lady said, then opened.
Ruthless waved from the fireplace, a deck of cards in her hand, but Teddy didn't feel like staying downstairs. He pointed at his book bag, hoping she would interpret that as having homework to do. She stuck her tongue out and then called, "Weasley, are you overloaded with work?"
Victoire's face went perfectly blank. She still seemed to dislike Ruthless for whatever reason she had, but this was an actual invitation, from a girl, to do something that was not related to her prank war or a boy. Teddy thought she'd probably accept it, and wasn't wrong. He watched her go over, blond hair swinging prettily over the small of her back as she pulled her bag off from over her shoulder. Ruthless greeted her with a shark-like smile, and started setting the stakes.
He went upstairs and lay down on his bed for a while, not thinking, waiting to stop feeling like he had a stomach flu. Checkmate draped herself over his ankles and lazily groomed her front paws. She gave him an irritated mew when he got up and started to walk aimlessly around the room. The pictures James had drawn for him two years ago were on his wall, and he examined each one, looking at the stick figures and shapeless blobs like they belonged on a museum wall. For no reason at all, he stood by his curtained window, studying the braided sash. For something to do, he dangled its fringed end for Checkmate to play with, and she set to it eagerly. Once she was involved in it, he Charmed it to move on its own, and went back to pacing. He should do his homework. Or read ahead. Or start to see about those books McGonagall had listed for him, though he wouldn't really be able to do anything until the morning. He thought about getting the Marauder's Map out and getting them to talk to him for a bit, and had it halfway out when he was gripped by a fear that they wouldn't talk to him, after what he'd said. It was a stupid fear. They didn't inhabit the Map. It was just a spell, like any other, and it would work as it had always worked, but he couldn't shake the superstitious dread. He imagined that James wouldn't want to talk to him at all, and Sirius would fly into a rage. Dad would just be very disappointed.
But perhaps Pettigrew would think he was a kindred spirit. Always a bright side.
Feeling quite miserable, he finally took Dad's ring from the chain around his neck and set it on a piece of clean parchment. He thought as hard he could about what had just happened with Uncle Harry, hoping for a memory that would help, then opened the window into Dad's memories.
The room disappeared, the light became tinged with gaudy pink. He could feel a moist, cool rock under him, and he was looking out over the ocean, where the sun was sinking in luxurious summer slowness. He knew he was far in the north of Scotland, not far from where the one-time Julia McManus had grown up, but he wasn't with Julia. He was with John Lupin, his grandfather, and they were camping. Tomorrow, they would go back to Dad's Muggle grandparents' house, and there would be great falcons and climbing around an old fortress (recently fifteen and headed into his O.W.L. year, Dad didn't think he'd tell his friends how much he liked such nonsense), but for now, they were just enjoying a bit of bloke-time, as John called it.
Teddy felt his father's eyes move, and looked down at his hands, where there was a tin plate. On it was a fish. He knew that they'd caught the fish themselves earlier, and cleaned and boned them by hand, Muggle-fashion, just for the fun of it, then cooked them in the campfire. His was half eaten, and when he pinched off another bite--burning the tips of his fingers, as they'd forgotten to bring forks--and put it in his mouth, Teddy tasted the remembered taste, and it wasn't like any fish he'd ever really eaten (or, he suspected, that Dad had ever really eaten, though he would from now on at Teddy's imagined island). It was like something they might serve up on Mount Olympus. Dad had thought at first that this was meant to be another pointless search for a non-existent cure, or what his father called "a long and serious talk"--his euphemism for a scold about...
Teddy couldn't quite wrap his head around what Dad had been afraid of being punished for. Maybe Dad hadn't been able to remember.
Instead, they'd hiked around on the country lanes all day, looking at interesting creatures (Dad had found an imp, which was now in a tiny cage, happily eating a spider) and talking about school (for Dad) and work (for John). John's work was in archiving, just as Julia's was, and Dad found it boring, but he didn't tell them that, because it pleased him that they told him about work, and shared their frustrations about their jobs with him.
John had finished his fish, and now tamped some tobacco into an old wooden pipe. He didn't normally smoke--it was Julia whose life was dusted in fine ash--but it wasn't unheard of. He reached into his bag and pulled out a second pipe. "Remus? Would you like to smoke?"
Dad didn't want to say no, so he took it and let John get him set up. He breathed in deeply, and Teddy felt his head and throat fill with stinging nettles. He started coughing, and John smacked him on the back.
Dad handed the pipe back. "I don't think so," he said.
John laughed. "Well, I thought I'd offer you the option. I imagined you might think yourself old enough, if I'm to judge by your attentions to one Tatiana Dale..."
"How did you know about--" Dad blushed; Teddy could feel it in his own skin. Tatiana had gone to Hogsmeade with him on a day all of the Marauders had dared one another to bring girls, and he was madly in love with her, though he hadn't quite dared to talk to her since, except in letters which he'd never sent. He blanched. "You read my letters?"
"No. I've just been listening to you talk, and her name is every third word out of your mouth."
"Don't worry. When I was your age, the girl was a blond beauty named Winifred Devins. I was devastatingly taken with her."
"But you married Mum!"
"Yes. And Winnifred married Aristotle Gamp."
Dad was shocked at this, imagining for a moment that John was talking about old Winnie Gamp, who sometimes appeared at parties. But she was quite frowsy, so he supposed it must be someone else.
John grinned. "So tell me about your Tatiana. Other than that she's a very good Quidditch player, and wonderful at Charms, and helps smaller children with their homework, and may well sprout angel wings soon."
Dad squirmed, but felt good. "There's really nothing more," he said. "Oh, except that she invented Self-Spelling wands in class one day."
"So will we meet her?"
"No," Dad said. "She's... well... I don't actually talk to her."
"Well... there's not much point to it, is there? It's not like I'm ever going to marry anyone."
John sat back, the humor draining from his face. "Aside from the fact that we're talking about going out with a girl, not marrying her, Remus... what on earth are you talking about? Why wouldn't you marry?"
Dad shrugged. "You know." He pointed up at the waxing moon, now making a ghostly appearance in the sky. "Kind of stupid to worry about going out and all of that. I'd have to tell someone I married, and then she wouldn't want to marry me."
John looked frustrated, and Dad was already trying to figure out which speech this would elicit. Perhaps the you-can-do-anything-others-can, or possibly the more impatient you-need-to-stop-obsessing-over-this. Instead, John just said, "Remus, that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say. Now... what other hearts are you out to break this year?"
Dad was a little insulted that he hadn't been taken seriously, but eventually warmed to the subject, telling John about the other girls in his year. His mind flitted over Lily Evans, who would later become Uncle Harry's mum, but also over several others, none at all serious. They all looked very different from one another. Teddy decided it was probably a good thing Dad had finally met a Metamorphmagus.
"You see," John said when the talking stopped. "It's always good to think about these things."
"Oh," Dad said wisely. "The have-hope speech. I wondered which it would be."
John threw a fish at him and the charm on the ring ended, bringing Teddy back to his dormitory.
Teddy wasn't sure what he'd got out of this particular memory, except that John Lupin had been madly optimistic about Dad's prospects. Well, that and that Dad had always resisted hope. Right up until he'd married Mum and had a child, which he got to enjoy for less than a month before dying in pain from a curse that had torn up his innards. Bully for hope.
Teddy put the ring back on its chain and went to bed, hoping for a dream where he could talk to them, find out if they were angry. But he didn't sleep for hours, and when he did, it was thin and dreamless.