Table of Contents and Summary So Far
"I know Goyle," Honoria said, and for the first time in a long while, Teddy thought she looked shaken. "I mean, I hadn't met him, personally, but I know friends of friends, and when I was in Greece a couple of summers ago, they were talking about him. Marcus Flint said that he was thinking of marrying a girl that he'd met by post."
"He did," Harry said. "They just had a baby. I sent Ruth Scrimgeour to tell her what's happened."
Honoria shook her head, dazed, then straightened her spine. "Well, we'd best get going. The bigger families and younger children always start showing up by nine-thirty--they're excited and want good seats. It's already a quarter after eight. We should definitely call the other prefects."
"I'll do it," Donzo said. Everyone but Lizzie can send back a Patronus, and I don't think we have to worry about Lizzie not showing up. We can tell the littler ones that we're trying to start a new tradition of seventh years saying hello at the platform and helping younger kids find their way."
Honoria thought about it. "Not bad, but don't try to elaborate; it'll make them suspicious."
"That'll work," Uncle Harry said. "I appreciate your help, Higgs, and I'm sorry you found out about someone you know this way."
"Well, he wasn't exactly a family friend." She blanched. "I'd best tell Rita Skeeter to watch her back. She's my godmother, but I think she's not exactly beloved in some circles. Which would be the same circles where--"
"I have people looking after Rita," Uncle Harry said. "But don't tell her. I don't think she'd take it well."
Honoria, looking relieved at this intelligence, just said, "Probably true."
"What about the Malfoys?" Teddy asked.
Uncle Harry looked pained. "Yes. I suppose. Draco will be less thrilled than Rita." He sighed. "I should get him word about Goyle, though. I don't have time, and he wouldn't take well to a Patronus dropping in."
Teddy waited for Donzo to go off and send a Patronus to the other prefects--Corky from Slytherin, Roger and Tinny from Hufflepuff, and Donzo's partner in Ravenclaw, Lizzie Richardson--and the others to arrive. It took about ten minutes; most of them were as excited as first years and already packed. It seemed natural that as Head Boy and Head Girl, they should explain things to the others, so Teddy waited until the attention was off of him and slipped back into the shadows, where Uncle Harry was trying to hide the blood better whilst still giving enough room for his Aurors to do their work.
"Are you all right?"
Uncle Harry looked up, surprised. "Yes, Teddy. I'm fine. Thank you."
"You don't look fine."
"You being of age doesn't mean we switch roles." He managed a smile. "Give me a break. I'm still getting used to looking up at you."
"I'm still getting used to that, too. Do you need anything?"
Uncle Harry stood up, looking out over the platform. "I need to catch this bastard." He put a hand on Teddy's arm, then sat down on one of the benches. "It's strange. I loathed Goyle. He was a thug and a bully, and not very... Teddy? What is it?"
"A thug and a bully," Teddy said. "Big bloke."
Teddy held out his hands and curled them into fists. "Rule of the fist. Metaphorically, anyway."
"Oh, my God. His hands. And Runcorn's jaw and eyes for spying and turning people in." Teddy nodded. Uncle Harry unconsciously rubbed his scar. (It didn't hurt him anymore, but habits died harder than Dark wizards.) "I'll point that out to Goldstein; he's trying to get an idea of who this is."
"Hope it's useful."
"I'm sorry to drag you in this morning. I know--it's an important day for you, too, but it just seemed the best way to handle it, and I knew I could trust you."
Teddy couldn't think of anything to say to this that didn't sound wrong somehow, so he just gave Uncle Harry's shoulder a squeeze and said, "We'll handle the kids. I've got your back."
Teddy returned to the prefects, who were just getting the gist of what they were expected to do.
"Not to be too practical," Tinny said, "but we should get our luggage and pets on board the train before anyone gets here. And Teddy, where's your cat?"
"I asked Granny to bring her closer to eleven. She didn't need to be asleep yet." He hadn't, in fact, asked, just left a note--but he knew Granny well enough to know that she wouldn't miss her last chance to send him off to school. It occurred to him that maybe Uncle Harry could tell her about Goyle, and she could tell Draco before he heard it from some less sympathetic source.
There was a grinding sound of brick on stone, and the first family came through the passage.
"...now, we'll find somewhere to wait, they won't let us board this early, but you'll get to see everyone, Timothy, and you'll see that they aren't frightening at all..."
A brightly-robed woman was pulling a trunk, and behind her was a very small first year boy. Teddy started over, but Tinny was already on the case, with all of her Hufflepuff warmth. A few minutes later, the boy was smiling tentatively, but Teddy didn't see how it ended, as the next families were starting to arrive.
The early trickle was easy to handle, but by ten o'clock, families were coming in regularly, and there was no way to stop each individual child for a pick-me up conversation. Instead, they formed a loose greeting line that happened to follow the line of the Aurors' torches. Roger did a mild restraining spell that he used around Hagrid's paddock when he was cleaning, that convinced the creatures that they really wanted to be elsewhere. It worked on about half of the people. The others seemed to buy the idea that the seventh years were trying to create a tradition--Teddy's year was known, and thought to be odd because it was so small and so marked by the war. A few parents looked suspiciously beyond them, where there was a space that was obviously inaccessible, but most of them were focused on getting their children onto the Hogwarts Express.
Bill and Fleur arrived with their brood at ten-thirty. Aimee would be starting this year, and her older sisters, Victoire and Marie, were fussing over her. Victoire happened to look up and notice the line of first years. She broke off and marched straight to Teddy.
"Trying to start a new tradition."
"You and Higgs?"
"The prefects. She's Head Girl."
"One chance not to lie to me."
"I won't lie. But I won't tell you right now."
She gave him a suspicious look. "Do you need help from the fifth year prefects? The Shacklebolts were right behind us, and Story and I can get our crews together..."
"No. We've got it. Go fuss over Aimee."
Maurice wasn't as easily put off a few minutes later, and he joined the line between Teddy and Donzo. Jane Hunter took Teddy's other side, under the guise of discussing their non-existant relatinship. As the rest of the year drifted in--Franklin Driscoll, Laura Chapman, Connie Deverill, Brendan Lynch and Joe Palmer--they took their places casually, not giving anyone a choice.
"Only one missing," Jane said. "Maybe he won't show. He hates the wizarding world so much, maybe he'll just skip seventh year."
Teddy glanced at the barrier. "No such luck."
A large, awkward-looking young man with flat brown hair nearly ironed over his head was coming through, carrying a suitcase on wheels and a book bag. He looked at the crowd with great distaste.
Maurice leaned over to Teddy. "I don't think Geoffrey's going to be very reassuring to anyone. Maybe he won't notice us."
They weren't so fortunate. Geoffrey Phillips, the only member of Teddy's year with whom he'd been able to establish no rapport at all, glanced over and saw the rest of them standing in a line. He lowered his head bullishly and came over, ignoring anyone in the path. He also ignored Teddy entirely and went to Franklin Driscoll, who he shared a dormitory with (along with Donzo).
"We're welcoming the younger students," Franklin said. "Not really your thing."
"To the contrary, I have quite a lot to tell them about this--"
"I said, 'welcome,' Geoff."
Teddy had only been listening to this with half an ear, and he lost even that interest when Geoffrey put down his book bag. The sport coat he was wearing was unbuttoned, and it opened to reveal a red tee-shirt underneath. On it was an oversized black needle with an exaggerated eye, a cockroach impaled at the end of it. This went diagonally. In the lower corner under it, the base of the "R" also stamping at he cockroach, was the word "Revolution."