Er... except that I got my head mixed up, and Teddy didn't actually meet Croaker in his initial foray last summer, so now, he sees an older man in sharp robes. Yay for editing ability.
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Teddy looked from one face to another, then swallowed hard and took a step inside, closing the door behind him. Professor Longbottom offered him a chair, and he took it, wondering if this was how Uncle Harry had felt in a chair with the whole Wizengamot facing him down.
"Is... er... is this"--he pointed to them--"entirely usual? I know Honoria had to see Rita Skeeter, but..."
Professor Longbottom laughed. "No. Higgs was interested in an unusual career, so her visitors came. Your career, we would normally be able to prepare you for without assistance--we have good ties to the Ministry--but the circumstances aren't entirely normal." He looked at Maddie.
Maddie came around the desk and sat on the edge. "I wouldn't say this is an every year sort of career choice. I've seen perhaps six interested students in eighteen years. But we do have a procedure."
"The Daedalus Maze," Teddy said. "Which I already--"
"-have astounded us with," the older man said, standing and holding out one gnarled hand. "I don't believe we've met formally. I'm Charles Croaker, Head of the Department of Mysteries. I've been watching you with great interest since Mrs. Apcarne first brought you to us, young man, though not as closely as I might have wished this year."
Teddy shook his hand dazedly, wondering if they'd be giving him a job offer if he'd managed to kill someone with the thing.
Maddie, as usual, seemed to know what he was thinking. She laughed. "Teddy, you wouldn't have been able to do nearly the mischief you've done if you didn't have an aptitude for this sort of thing. You need training and discipline."
"Or," Uncle Harry muttered, "he needs to get away from it entirely."
"Yes, Harry, that will work perfectly," Granny said. "I know how well you did at staying away from the dangerous things that you happen to be good at."
Professor Longbottom held up his hand. "We had this argument earlier. Sorry, Teddy--I thought we could get it over with before you got here."
"It's all right," Teddy said.
"What I want to know before we go further now," Professor Longbottom went on, "is whether or not this is still what you want. Your school marks are good in all of your subjects, and there are other career paths open. If you'd prefer to talk about them, then please say so. I have no problem whatsoever sending the Ministry and Harry Potter home without supper if it's what you want." He winked.
"No, it's all right," Teddy said. "I don't know. I thought I'd done badly. But if I didn't, I... well, I like this sort of thing." He focused on Professor Longbottom. "Is there anything else you think I'd be good at?"
"Many things. The primary thing I believe you'd be good at is one which we've already discussed, and which you don't care to follow up on. But you might consider a career in Wizarding law, as well, and your interest in history--granted, not in Professor Binns' class--might make you a good apprentice for the curator of the wizarding museum at Tintagel. You've also been quite a fine advocate for werewolves, and you've shown real leadership in your year. There aren't many doors closed to you, Teddy, unless you have an unspoken dream to join a professional Quidditch club. That, I'm afraid, I would have to advise you against."
"There goes my back-up plan for him," Uncle Harry said fondly.
Teddy smiled at him, then turned to Maddie. "I want to do this," he said. "The Department of Mysteries." In the end, it was exactly that simple. It was the only career he'd ever been especially interested in.
Maddie grinned and clapped. "Oh, I'm so happy!"
"That brings us to why everyone needed to come," Croaker said. "Normally, we'd have watched your process through the year more closely than we've been able to, and by now, we'd be talking about which division you might study. But because of the rather extraordinary events, we've had little chance to evaluate the way you work."
"And as the Headmistress insists that the Maze not be on school grounds..." Maddie said, and shrugged.
"We'll need to set up evaluation sessions in London," Croaker finished. "For that, we shall need permission from your guardians."
Uncle Harry wasn't actually Teddy's legal guardian--by law, Granny was raising him alone--but no one questioned his presence.
"Would this be Floo travel?" Granny asked. "Or would someone come to bring him by Side-Along Apparition?"
"Teddy can use the Floo in my office," Professor Longbottom said. "This can't conflict with his classes, particularly with O.W.L.s coming up."
There was a flurry of schedule-checking and organization, during which Teddy felt quite lost. He hoped that Frankie and Tinny would be willing to schedule games only on Sundays now, as six of his remaining Saturdays were booked. One of them was the only remaining Hogsmeade weekend, and he hadn't quite dared protest that he meant to see if he could break the year's girl-curse and find someone to stay with for a little while. Somehow, he didn't think they'd consider that a valid protest. On the more positive side, he got a dispensation from the school to go eat at Uncle Harry's on those days--Granny would come, as well--since he was away from Hogwarts anyway.
"Your classmates will all be clamoring for an apprenticeship with the Department of Mysteries," Professor Longbottom said. "Please tell them that it's only because you got behind with the Quarantine."
Teddy nodded and put his quill and calendar away, the dates neatly boxed off.
"Well, that's all we needed to be here for," Maddie said, and shook Teddy's hand eagerly. "I can't wait."
Croaker stood up and nodded somberly to Teddy. "It's been a pleasure, Mr. Lupin, and I look forward to your evaluations."
"Me, too, sir," Teddy said. It wasn't entirely true--who looked forward to a test, no matter what they called it?--but it was close enough.
Maddie and Croaker left first, and Uncle Harry and Granny left after signing several permission slips, which Professor Longbottom filed indifferently in a cluttered cabinet.
When they were alone, Professor Longbottom came around his desk and sat in the chair beside Teddy's. He Summoned two glasses of pumpkin juice and a plate of gingerbread, then a listing of Hogwarts courses.
"Well," he said, "I started looking into this when Maddie mentioned that you'd be looking at this particular career. As far as O.W.L.s, the Ministry expects at least six Exceeds Expectations, with follow-up N.E.W.T.s."
Teddy nodded. He hadn't expected it to be academically easy. "Any particular subjects?"
"They don't say so, but of course they always expect something."
"Sounds like guessing what they want is another test."
"If it is, Maddie seemed willing to help you cheat." Professor Longbottom took a biscuit. "I think they just like to make it sound like they're open, though. Maddie said she'd suggest staying in Divination."
"In the upper years, you may choose Professor Trelawney or Professor Firenze. Either one of them can guide you--N.E.W.T. Divination tends to be quite independent in nature. You might like to see some of the papers that other N.E.W.T. students have done in the subject. Madam Pince keeps them in the Restricted section."
Teddy nodded. "What else?"
"Maddie thinks you might have an interest in Time. So--"
"Binns," Professor Longbottom agreed, then shook his head and sighed. "There's nothing to be done for it."
"Good. Beyond that, Maddie thinks they'd just like to see challenging classes. Transfiguration, for instance, rather than Care of Magical Creatures. Or Potions, I'm sorry to say, instead of Herbology."
"Herbology is challenging!" Teddy protested. "And it's good for Potions, too."
"I agree, but common perception..." Professor Longbottom shrugged. "Maddie also seemed to think that Astronomy would go over well, especially for your rotation through Universe."
"I guess the sixth could be in Arithmancy," Teddy said. "Or Ancient Runes."
"Or both," Professor Longbottom said. "You need six. There's no rule against taking more, and I think you could handle it."
Teddy took a sip of his juice. "Do you think it's odd that they offered this to me after I coc... er, made mistakes with the Maze? I mean, I understand the part about being good at it, but it's sort of dangerous, isn't it?"
"Probably less so than letting you do it without any supervision."
Professor Longbottom smiled. "I think you made the right choice."
"Really. This is something that's purely come from you. It's not anything you've been pressured into. I doubt Maddie so much as suggested it to you, did she?"
Teddy shook his head.
Professor Longbottom took another bite of his biscuit. "So it's yours, Teddy. It's you. And I think that's a good thing."
"Do you think my parents would think so?"
"Harry or your grandmother could answer that better," Professor Longbottom said. "I didn't know them nearly well enough. But from what I did know--your dad, in particular, would have wanted you to be confident and believe in what you're good at. I know it's what he wanted for his students, anyway."
"Even if it ends me up where Sirius died?"
"I don't think, in your position, that I'd have put it to him in quite those words."
This wasn't entirely definitive, but it was the best there was. They settled in with Teddy's academic records, and started planning out the rest of his school life.