After Malfoy's lecture, Teddy made a particularly snotty remark, and Harry closed the classroom door in his face.
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
For a long time, Teddy watched the door, both sure it would open and convinced it wouldn't. The latter conviction proved true, and when he went over and looked through the narrow window, he saw Uncle Harry sitting at the desk, his fingers buried in his hair, his eyes closed behind his glasses.
Teddy reached down and turned the doorknob.
Something thudded into him and he jumped. Marie Weasley smiled at him sheepishly and said, "Sorry, Teddy! Are you feeling better?"
He didn't have a chance to answer, as the rest of the first year Gryffindors were pouring into the classroom around him.
Uncle Harry stood up slowly and looked at Teddy with frustration. Teddy backed out of the door.
He had his last period before dinner free, and he made his way up to Gryffindor Tower. He'd been gone for days. Checkmate had apparently been shuttling back and forth between Ruthless and Victoire (or perhaps, from her point of view, between her new friend Oggie and her littermate Bushy), and he didn't like to neglect her. Granny had drummed into his head early on that the family pets needed them both, and not just for food and water. That had been before Checkmate, when Bludger and Quaffle had been alive. As he climbed through the portrait hole, it occurred to Teddy for the first time that she might have been talking to Mum (or yelling at her) about leaving when she had a responsibility of her own. It had certainly seemed to be about more than dragging strings around for the two lazy old toms.
An image of Bludger fighting his way across the garden with his belly ripped out came unbidden to Teddy's mind, and he tried to replace it with the thought of the strings, and Bludger's deep, almost silent purr, and the way it had rumbled under his hand. It didn't work. It never worked, and he always hated it when people told him to "Remember the good times," because they always seemed to think there was some talismanic power to it, and the power had never in Teddy's life worked.
He stopped just inside the Common Room and took a deep breath. This was no good.
The Common Room was empty except for one chair in front of the fireplace, where a redheaded boy with glasses was reading a heavy-looking book that he held in one hand, and writing a letter with the other hand. He didn't appear to notice Teddy. Teddy thought he was one of the third years. There were too many of them to keep track of. He ignored the boy and went up to his room.
"Checks?" he called. "Checkmate? Where are you?" There was a scrabbling of claws on the floor behind him, and he turned to find his cat hurrying in after a run on the stairs. He scooped her up and kissed her head. "Are you glad to see me? I missed you. Were you good for Victoire and Ruthless?"
Checkmate didn't seem inclined to answer the questions. She buried her nose behind his ear and wiggled it against his skin while she kneaded his chest and neck desperately. He scratched between her shoulders, ignoring the sharp little pricks of her claws.
"Victoire wasn't kidding about cleaning up," he said. "I think she alphabetized my books. Did she do that, Checks?" He looked over his book shelf. She'd arranged his school books by subject, his Muggles and Minions books by function, and his Fifi LaFolle collection by year. His face went warm... she'd actually seen all of the bloody Enchanted Encounters books right out in the open. And...
He groaned. She'd left a note in Veronica's Victory: Teddy, may I borrow this one? It looks very good, and I can't fault the letters in the title!--V He didn't think she'd really like it. It was mostly an adventure in the Canary Islands, about trying to stop a deadly landslide that would cause vast devastation, though Fifi had pasted in one of her usual sweet-savage romances. There'd been a triangle with Veronica at the apex, and a dark wizard versus a kindly Muggle scientist, if it was the book he was thinking of. He pulled it out and set it aside for Victoire, hoping she would at least have the common sense to not mention who she'd borrowed it from.
He braced himself and opened the wardrobe. The robes were hanging neatly, filed before shirts, which came before ties, which came before trousers. On the floor, his shoes were lined up by darkness, from white trainers to black dress shoes. At the end of the row of shoes, set neatly against the wall to hold up its skewed side, was the Daedalus Maze. Teddy leaned in close to it. It wasn't thrumming or vibrating, and he heard nothing unusual. Victoire had set the piece that had splintered off of it on the floor of the wardrobe, propped up against the Maze. It was a clean break. It shouldn't take long to repair it.
She'd straightened the papers on his desk and cleaned up the spill he'd caused when he'd knocked against it trying to get to his feet on Sunday morning. Nothing had been discarded. Piles were sorted by type and fastened with different-colored clips. One pile was labeled "Homework?", another was "Stories," and a third was "Scrap?" On the other corner of his desk was the pile of letters Uncle Harry had brought, which he'd never got to. The one from Bill was left conspicuously on top, with a note that had only several question marks drawn across it. He opened it.
Dear Teddy, Bill had written, I imagine Victoire is unhappy with me, for reasons which are hers to share or not--Teddy's mind flashed to the afternoon at Buckbeak's paddock--and I'd hoped you'd be willing to spend some time with her. My aim was not to make her unhappy. With that out of the way...
He went on with a chatty story about life at Shell Cottage, but it was clear that his intent had been to have Teddy play big brother to Victoire. Teddy had never been anyone's real big brother, but he'd had big brotherly duties with Uncle Harry's children, and he felt morally sure that kissing of the sort he'd engaged in with Victoire was far outside the bounds.
Under Bill's letter was one from Granny, which was, as Uncle Harry had suggested, just checking up on him. He dashed off a quick reply, guessing that Madam Pomfrey had kept her out of the loop about how badly he'd hurt himself, or she'd have been up. Under Granny's letter was one from Lily, which was mostly about getting a dog. She was convinced that she'd find one who would get along capitally with Martian, even though James was "vary stuped" about it. She'd also got a new dolly from George, which told her funny jokes every night. The dolly--whose name, Megrez Cassiopeia Deneb Vega Potter, had obviously come from the parlor wall ("Kreacher loves her!")--"wrote," Q: How did the cat Animagus do in school? A: She had PURR-fect marks!
Teddy started to pick up a piece of parchment to write back, then put it away. Uncle Harry hadn't looked like he'd be happy to see letters from Teddy in the children's hands just now.
Under Lily's letter was Al's (very short, as he said he'd been drawing pictures for James's), and under Al's was one from George, which included a run-down of Teddy's share of the profits for several toys Teddy had interest in, either as a co-creator or as Dad's heir (a Metamorphmagus doll Dad had designed had been selling well this year). This gold went straight into a Gringott's vault, and Teddy had no particular idea how much was there by now.
James's letter was thickest, and it was on the bottom. After a brief note explaining that Lily was trying ruin Martian's life by bringing a dog into the house, he went right into the story Teddy had left for him, with Sirius finding the entrance to the treasure room somewhere in Mexico. James had apparently pestered Hermione or Luna for creature books, because as soon as Sirius went through the door, he started battling a feathered serpent that was guarding the trove.
...and he Summoned his motorbike all the way from England and he SWOOPED down, and there were FEATHERS everywhere, and then Sirius got out his wand and he turned the serpent into a lot of canaries (which Uncle Ron says are more scary, but I don't think so!) and... VRRROM! He dropped down through them, and they all flew away, and there was the book that would teach Buckbeak to fly again. Only Buckbeak didn't know how to read, so Sirius had to read it to him. He thought he should teach Buckbeak to read, but he didn't know how to do that. But before they finished, there was a dog, and Sirius turned into a Animagus dog (which isn't the same as a real dog) to fight with it so that it wouldn't scare Buckbeak. While they were fighting, a nice man from the village who used to take care of the treasure until Sirius found it started reading to Buckbeak again, and next thing they knew, he could fly! Sirius took the book and enough treasure to help the Princess at home, but he left the rest with the village, and said they could spend it however they wanted, because it was theirs now. They were very happy, and bought new houses, where there weren't any dogs allowed, except for Sirius.
So Sirius and Buckbeak flew away, headed back across the ocean with the motorbike flying behind them, and they were halfway there when suddenly, the sky got very dark and the wind started to blow, and there was lightning and
At this point, James had drawn a big question mark to leave the next section to Teddy. Teddy thought it might be fun to work in what he was learning about Brimmann, and maybe have the storm blow Sirius, Buckbeak, and the motorbike to Africa, where they'd meet the woman who had put her Blistering Bloodspots curse on Brimmann's crew, and, he thought with a smile, they might even meet up with one of Sirius's friends who would really enjoy teaching Buckbeak to read (which in a James story was well within the realm of possibility)... but he didn't start to write. There was something that had to be done first, maybe before he'd even be allowed to write. He plucked Checkmate up from his lap, where she'd settled during his reading.
"I have to go back downstairs," he said. "But I'll be back soon."
She'd got over her delight at seeing him, and squirmed away to sleep under his desk.
Teddy opened the bottom drawer--its contents were mercifully untouched--and pulled out the Marauder's Map. It showed students leaving their last classes. Uncle Harry's class had already let out. He was headed down a corridor toward Professor Longbottom's office. Teddy put the Map away, then took a deep breath and steeled himself to go after. He needed to know if he could write back to James and Al and Lily. He assumed he'd have to promise not to mention anything, but he wouldn't have, anyway--he didn't think it was his business to get between James and his father.
By the time he got out, the corridors were teeming with students heading back to their dormitories to gather things before dinner, or going to detentions, or going about their own business. He ducked around them absently. On the third floor, he found himself taking the path that led by Fred's Swamp, where several students were tossing in sweets for luck on exams. In the midst of this, he could see a huge red flower that had never been there before, though it looked familiar. Teddy supposed he'd seen it in a book somewhere. He passed by without examining it closely.
Professor Longbottom's office was a pleasant room on the ground floor, filled with his plants and smelling of soil. It was one of Teddy's favorite places in the castle, but today, approaching it was a grim, thankless task. The crowds were thinning out by the time he got there, and only a few students passed him. But the time he was only one door away, he was the last one left. The door was slightly ajar. He could hear voices coming from inside.
"...fifteen, Harry. It goes with the territory. You were a right pain to Dumbledore at fifteen."
"I know," Uncle Harry said irritably. "I thought he was keeping things from me that I should have known."
"So did Voldemort," Professor Longbottom said. China clinked. "Tea?"
"No, I don't want tea." Uncle Harry sighed, and there was a thud as he sat down. Teddy pictured him in one of the chairs in front of Professor Longbottom's desk, maybe the one with the liana vines growing over it. "I just can't believe he let Malfoy see that. Malfoy. And you know something, Neville? He sounded like Malfoy. 'We can't all be Harry Potter.'" On this, his voice picked up a high, whining tone, and Teddy stopped with one hand raised to knock. His stomach rolled lazily over. Uncle Harry went on, now sounding rather plaintive. "I just don't know how it got this far. I don't know what happened, or how it happened so fast."
There was a series of soft sounds, and Teddy thought Professor Longbottom was moving his plants around to water them and get them natural light. Finally, he said, "Harry, this had to happen."
"Remus and Tonks wouldn't want him acting like this, but I sincerely doubt he'll listen to me on that."
"He wouldn't listen to them, either," Professor Longbottom said. "It's not about them."
"You don't know."
"I don't need to know the details. But he loves you, Harry, and he knows you love him, and it will blow over. Are you going to leave after Robards comes back?"
Teddy tried to move away, but couldn't.
"They're sort of insistent that I come back to work."
Professor Longbottom's voice took on a rather amused tone. "You could tell them that you're investigating the 'mysterious visitors.'"
"I'm actually wondering if I should look into it."
"I have my eye on it, Harry, and believe me, I'll let you know. I'd guess it's just some odd time hiccup in the castle. You know Hogwarts."
"And that flower?"
"Could be Victoire, which is what the students think."
"She says it's not."
"Could be one of my Herbology students, for that matter. It's an easy plant to get hold of. A Congolese Fire Flower. They grow like weeds in the Congo rain forest. It's all the Ministry there can do to keep them hidden from Muggles..."
Teddy's head felt light, and his ears were ringing.
In the Congo rain forest. In West Africa.
He hadn't seen the flower in a book.
He'd seen it in the Daedalus Maze.