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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Six: The Smallest Year, Once More, part 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Six: The Smallest Year, Once More, part 3
Back at school, Teddy is heartened to see a return of the Gryffindor families, but unpleasantly surprised when Geoffrey Phillips accuses the Ministry of "covering up" the murders and then, worse, in his neverending quest to cause shame to the wizard-born, brings up the final year of the war, when the Death Eaters were in command at St. Mungo's, and, as he reminds them, saw to it that the number of births in their year remained minuscule. Teddy doesn't believe this of the Healers he knows, and Honoria flatly calls it a lie, but Donzo confirms it--his own mother barely escaped. Teddy isn't sure what to do with this knowledge.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

The portrait was empty when he went back to his room--Dad and Sirius might be anywhere in the castle, or back at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, and Mum had struck up friendships with several Hogwarts portraits, which she visited regularly. (Sir Cadogan was a particular favorite, and Teddy had found her in his frame more than once, riding along on one or another of his grand adventures.) He thought about calling them back, but in the end, decided that they probably wouldn't have included that sort of memory in the portrait anyway.

Instead, he sat down at his desk and stared at a piece of parchment for a long time before writing, Dear Granny.

It took a long time to finish the letter.

Aside from History of Magic, Teddy was taking NEWTs in Divination, Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Astronomy, Arithmancy, Ancient Runes and Defense Against the Dark Arts. It was a heavy load, but he hadn't been able to bear losing most of them, and besides, Bill Weasley was always bragging about his twelve NEWTs, which made Teddy disappointed that the teachers had since passed rules that would only allow him to take nine. Though his favorite Potions teacher had been Cho Morse, he got along quite well with her replacement, Andrew Stephens, who had been a fifth year prefect when Teddy had arrived at Hogwarts. Getting used to calling him Professor Stephens was considerably harder than learning this skill with Professor Longbottom. Last year, when he'd arrived with a fresh crop of spots on his face (they were apparently resistant to every bubotuber potion known to wizardkind), he'd said the seventh years could call him Drew, but two days later, chagrined, he said that this was probably not a good habit to get into if he intended to stay on permanently.

Stephens had, at any rate, done away with Professor Morse's cosmetic Charms on the dungeon, which had provided students with shifting scenery from around the world. In their place, he'd brought the entire storage room out into the main classroom, lining the walls with ingredients like an apothecary. When Teddy arrived at his station for his first class, he found a list of ingredients, and gathered them. Glancing around at his classmates (Roger Young, Tinny Gudgeon, Jane Hunter, Joe Palmer, Franklin Driscoll, and Connie Deverell), he deduced that they were all shopping for entirely different ingredients. Intrigued, he brought his new supplies back to his cauldron and waited for Stephens, who arrived a few minutes later, carrying a stack of shiny, thin books.

"Well, I'm curious," Jane piped up.

Stephens started handing out the books, which were little more than pamphlets and bore the title--in simple black on white--Principles of Potion Creation, by Horace Slughorn.

Teddy smiled. He'd always liked Sluggy, and wondered why he let other people do his writing.

Stephens sat on the desk, dangling his large feet as if he were sitting on a table in the Gryffindor Common Room. "Ladies and gentlemen, you're of age, and you're seventh year N.E.W.T. students. I think we've taught you as much as we can about the principles of following recipes. Now, we have some fun." He grinned.

"We're going to design our own potions with these?" Tinny asked.

Stephens nodded. "I made up seven lists of ingredients, and from your list--which was meant to be random, but I see you've all taken the same seats as last year--you will create one new potion each month. You may use those ingredients, along with any ingredient in your standard kit. If you think you want to use another ingredient, you need to check with me first. I couldn't get permission to do this unless I promised to make sure you weren't brewing anything that could be dangerous." He paused, looking annoyed at this restriction, then said, "Any questions?"

Teddy thought about it, then asked, "Can we build on potions we've already created? I mean, say that this month, I make a potion that... I don't know, reveals footprints. Could I use that potion as an ingredient in a potion in March that would show where ghosts have passed?"

"Absolutely," Stephens said. "Though I should warn you, if that's the plan, that nothing on your particular list will create either of those effects. Anything else?"

No one else had a question.

"Then have at it."

Teddy glanced over his new ingredients. Mallowsweet was used by the centaurs in star-gazing; maybe it could work with other ingredients to create a potion to increase the power of divinatory dreams. Gurdyroot might be able to repel some magical creatures. He had no idea what he might use stinksap for, but it seemed promising in combination with the gurdyroot. Some ashwinder eggs, which he'd have to keep carefully frozen, might be useful in combination with the armadillo bile from his kit...

Deciding to start with his strong point, he took the mallowsweet, added it to sage from his kit, and began to write out a theory for his divinatory potion. Stephens wandered by and gave an approving sniff.

Professor Trewlawney, who taught all exam year Divination (as Firenze refused to teach certain methods that would appear on O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s), did not approve of what she called "false awareness of the other world," and made Teddy promise not to use his potion for classwork, if he was able to make it work at all. For her class, she wanted, of all things, a thesis on the proper use of Divination. It hadn't been at all what Teddy was expecting from the ancient, airy wisp of a witch. She assigned them readings on prophecies through history, including one with which Teddy knew he'd need to be careful, as the history books record Uncle Harry as only having "died" symbolically when he allowed himself to be taken to the Forest, then claimed to have died in order to discomfit Voldemort, therefore not fulfilling his prophecy to the letter. It seemed wisest to leave this interpretation in place, though, since fifth year, Teddy had known better.

Tuesday brought Charms and Transfiguration, which also introduced a bit of fiddling around with the subject and expectation of creativity that hadn't been hinted at in sixth year. Teddy found himself quite glad that he'd chosen to continue.

Defense Against the Dark Arts started on Wednesday, and Geoffrey again made a right pain of himself, railing against the Ministry for allowing itself to be overtaken by zealots. Jane waspily said, "Well, thank you for the lesson--we'll see to it that you're never invited in."

This derailed him enough for Robards to get the class back on track. He did decide to study the murders, as long as they were there to be studied.

"Can anyone tell me what about Gregory Goyle's murder is most troubling, in terms of Dark magic?"

"That they cut his hands off with a train?" Donzo suggested.

"Psychopathic," Robards said, "but as the hands were left behind, in all likelihood, not a matter of Dark wizardry. And the Aurors think it was a knife. The train had no indications that it had been used for such a ghastly purpose."

Honoria suggested that blood may have been taken, and Corky brought up the disquieting idea that it had been meant to curse the Hogwarts Express itself (Robards looked alarmed at this idea and jotted it down).

Teddy raised his hand.


"Well--isn't Platform Nine and Three-Quarters sealed pretty well when we're not using it?"

"Exactly." Robards stood up and flicked his wand at the blackboard, where diagrams started to appear. "The security on the station, and on the train itself, are part and parcel of Hogwarts security. Since there was an attack during the Grindelwald Wars, nothing is supposed to be able to approach without authorization. Even the Dementors who boarded shortly after Sirius Black escaped Azkaban did so with the Ministry's blessing, however misguided it was. So someone has found a way around some very deep protections." Robards looked at them significantly, then said, "This, by the way, doesn't leave this room, as you'll find when you pass the door. We don't need to spread panic. But I'm intersted in your ideas..."

They all participated, even Geoffrey, who managed to not sneer too deeply when he proposed that someone had allowed the murderer in from the inside.

Ideas swimming in his head, Teddy left the classroom and went to supper. A school owl landed beside his plate, and he didn't notice it until it lightly pecked his wrist.

The letter it carried was a response to his letter to Granny. It was quite thick. He fed the owl a bit of his sandwich, then unbound the letter, weighed it in his hands, and decided to take it up to his dormitory to read.

Checkmate greeted him with a loud purr, and settled into his lap--a welcome comfort as he read.

Dear Teddy,
I wondered if this would ever come up again.

It was talked about in the immediate aftermath of the war, and quite frequently; don't imagine that it was a great secret that was being kept from the world. But the truth is, after the war, after we'd all let our wounds start to heal, no one wanted to keep gnawing on old bones like this. We knew what had happened. We knew we could never let it happen again. But there were babies who lived and needed to be raised, and traditions to rebuild, and families to re-found. Gardens to plant, paths to walk... you can fill in the activity of your choice; it was preferable to dwelling on evil. We'd lived in evil long enough. We'd had enough. It was time to live in the light again.

But this mess with our new Dark wizard is dredging all of our sins up again, isn't it? Do you suppose Alderman might just give us all a few Hail Marys to make it go away?

I'm sorry, I know you take that more seriously than I do, and I didn't mean to be flippant. In fact, I wasn't being flippant. We lack a mechanism of absolution, and I think that's why the phoenixes keep coming back to roost. We need to master the concept of putting it behind us.

But I suppose, now that it's been brought up again, you need to know the whole story to understand it, if understanding is even possible.

The first thing I want you to remember was that I quit my post even before Rufus Scrimgeour died. From the moment Harry and Hagrid crashed into our pond, Ted and I knew what was likely to come. He didn't dare go back for his things. I managed to get our files out. We weren't there that year.

There were, however, good Healers who remained where they were. Mehadi Patil is one of them. She never participated in the destruction of half-blood pregnancies--thank heaven for small moral favors, the Death Eaters who moved into the upper administration rather preferred to do that themselves, under the direction of Delores Umbridge--but she did know what was happening, and didn't leave in protest. A lot didn't. Some stayed because they needed their jobs. Others stayed for the same reason Minerva McGonagall stayed at Hogwarts: If they didn't, they feared what would happen to their charges. While I'm certain it would have been morally satisfying for Mehadi to turn her back and flounce away, if she'd done so, then who would have been there to watch over Frank and Alice Longbottom, and get them off the Closed Ward should the Death Eaters ever decide they were more useful as dead object lessons than live leverage? Those were the sorts of horrible choices people had to make.

So your classmate is quite right that it wasn't an uncommon occurrence--I would estimate at least ten of your would-be age-mates were lost in that way--but quite wrong that it was done by Healers (though, as I mentioned, this was because the Death Eaters enjoyed the chore, not because the Healers refused--we must be fair about that), or that it was covered up. It was quite open at the time, and no one denied it later--we just preferred not to talk about it. I don't suppose this young man, as you've described him, would accept such a terrible excuse.

And by the way, I read between the lines of your oh-so-subtle question about my own attitudes at the age of seventeen, when I was known to recite undying poetry of resistence like, "Screw this trial, Shove this farce, right up Barty Crouch's arse." Looking back, I see myself as a foolish girl, caught up in a wave of righteous anger. Like your classmate, I saw myself as a singular beacon of light, raging against the machine. By all rights, I ought to sympathize with him fully and tell you to just let him be until he grows out of it. Your grandfather and I did.

But I find I can't tell you that. There is something about what you've told me that doesn't sit right with my memories of my own youth. We were crude and angry, but inside that, there was... love? Empathy? Is there a difference? I'm not sensing that in what you've shared about this Geoffrey. Perhaps you just haven't seen it, but you're quite a perceptive man, and you've been able to see good qualities in several people you don't care for, so be careful. People without empathy--or, to put it in the intellectual sphere, understanding of the Other--are inherently dangerous people.

I'm afraid this hasn't been a comforting letter from your grandmother. I have little comfort to offer on this matter. To soften it a bit, I had a lovely tea with the Potter children today, and they send their love.

And I send mine.

31 comments or Leave a comment
amamama From: amamama Date: June 10th, 2010 07:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wonderful! Love the potions class, Trelawney's step out of habit (though I think she would've benefited from some kind of help herself), and Robards's question. They're adults, being treated as such and guided towards independent thinking. That's good. And Andromeda's analysis of Geoff is quite on the spot. It's ok to be angry and rage at the unfairness of life, but only if you at the smae time are able to hold love in your heart. And Geoff doesn't love anybody. I'm not sure he even loves himself.

Thanks! :-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think someone may have taken Trelawney aside for a long, serious talk about what the Ministry expected.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was saddened that we never got a seventh year at Hogwarts in the HP series. My favorite kind of classroom atmosphere is one in which the students are nearly on equal footing with the professor. I guess that's why I'm in grad school, right? At any rate, you depict this atmosphere brilliantly, and it makes me feel right at home. :)

Aeterna (who hasn't bothered trying to remember her LJ password)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks--I like those classes as well, and I thought that, since we didn't get a seventh year, I'd have a little freedom to put things into the Hogwarts curriculum about creativity and branching out. Obviously, someone has to--new spells and potions get invented regularly!
willowbough From: willowbough Date: June 10th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's interesting to notice the subtle shift in the way the adults in Teddy's life are treating not just him, but his yearmates. The whole Smallest Year really is coming of age in this story, isn't it? Andromeda's letter also indicates that she's relating to him more as an adult now. On some level, Teddy probably finds this a mixed blessing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think there's always ambivalence about not being a kid anymore and being treated the same way adults treat each other. On the other hand, Andromeda did a decent job of bridging that divide, so Teddy's not entirely out of his depth.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

I don't get it...

if Andromeda didn't meant to be flippant *and rude* about Alderman and the concept of reciting Hail Mary's, or absolution etc.

then why mention it, and come across as flippant, in the first place?

slip of the tongue?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I don't get it...

I think the flippancy was accidental. She releases tension by putting on a sort of distant, ironic air. She's talking about, essentially, unexpurgated sin, so she brings up confession. She could have erased it, but then she realizes that she has some thoughts on the subject that are relevant and decides to go on and share them.
pevara From: pevara Date: June 10th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, the idea of Death Eaters terminating half-blood births is both incredibly disturbing and all-too-believable. I don't normally think of your writing as being particularly creepy, but that detail is wonderfully skin-crawling.

On a somewhat-unrelated note, I actually have a question about Geoffrey. I think that Andromeda's assessment of him is spot-on, but I confess I don't entirely get why Geoff is so cold. I mean, he's been that way since he was eleven--I seem to remember a ficlet dealing with his radical parents, but even so, I find it a bit tough to understand why he never evolves (disclaimer: I am a young person of vaguely idealistic persuasions!). I guess my question basically boils down to: Why is Geoffrey missing a heart--and why is he so divorced from Andromeda's brand of activism? Because I always want to sympathize with him and I never can! (Er, sorry if this a super-long and involved question. Brevity has never been one of my strong suits.)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Geoffrey is, at root, a psychopath. Not necessary the murderous kind, but of the psychopath-next-door variety. His attacks on the wizarding world actually give him pleasure, because they hurt people, and he's something of a sadist. They feed his sense of being superior to everyone else. It's also behind his less than profound emotional life and his complete lack of guilt at insulting the families and honor of everyone in his vicinity.

As to what causes it, the jury's still out. It seems to start showing in early childhood (earlier than Geoffrey's entrance to Hogwarts). He's developed a superficial charm that his yearmates are immune to because they've been listening to him for years, but which some of the younger students find glamorous.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Bit of a Brit-pick here, but given that NEWTs are likely a wizarding equivalent of A-Levels, 12 or even 9 will be far, far too many.

Even an exceptional student won't be doing more than 5 subjects, as there just aren't enough hours to teach them in a week, let alone learn the required material.

Compulsory education ends at 16, providing the 'bare minimum' with GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams, before advancing to A-Levels if you have the required grades. For instance, you needed a B grade or above to move into A-Level maths at my school.

Without wanting to rag on the US school system, an A-Level is probably worth the same as the first year of college, hence why most US undergraduate degrees are 4 years, compared to 3 in the UK.

Obviously if you want to go different, no worries, but just a bit of an FYI.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Steve, I had an f-locked post (I'm not sure why I locked it actually; I'll unlock it for debate) on it the subject--the NEWTs don't seem to be an exact equivalent, and Bill took an insane number of OWLs and probably an insane number of NEWTs as well. So canon trumps the Brit-pick.

Edited at 2010-06-10 02:44 pm (UTC)
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sidealong From: sidealong Date: June 10th, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Makes me wish for book 8. With Harry & Ron finishing school... Did Ginny and Hermione go back in canon?

That is very creepy- the idea of Death Eaters enjoying terminating less than pure-blood pregnancies. Voldemort = hypocrisy. Presumably they killed the Mother's also.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

about cannon did they or did they not?

i remember reading somewhere that Rowling said that Harry and Ron didn't needed to go back to Hogwarts to finish, since they prove themselves in practical skill in the war, or something like that.

that only Hermione returned to hogwarts to finish, and I would think ginny Weasley did as well, since she still needed to finish *the trio 7th year was ginny's 6).
From: maxzook Date: June 10th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
[...] the Death Eaters who moved into the upper administration rather preferred to do that themselves, under the direction of Delores Umbridge.

I knew a woman named Dolores who was so happy when Order of the Phoenix came out, she hoped people would finally stop misspelling her name ...

On a happier note, I think this is shaping up to be one of your best efforts -- you're very good at moral conflict.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2010 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes, I even do know how to spell it, and why it's spelled that way ("dolor" for pain, which should make it even easier to remember for Umbridge). But the fingers misbehave...
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 10th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know a woman whose grandfather was a Nazi in Germany during the Hitler era. Her father was born with some kind of defect in his feet (a clubfoot, I think, although I could be wrong). Her grandfather wanted to euthanize the child. Her grandmother was able to stop him but only by agreeing to a divorce and no alimony or other support.

I remember reading about one woman in Nazi Germany who was in love with a Jewish man and hid him during the war. When she had a child, she convinced a friend with all the right bloodlines to let her claim him as the father. I've also read about a Jewish doctor during the war in a concentration camp who secretly performed abortions on other women prisoners who otherwise would have been killed if it was discovered they were pregnant.

So, yeah, I'm not having to hard a time believing the Death Eaters would do something like that.

I do wonder if some of the healers didn't find ways to help, not passing on the information that a patient was in the early stages of pregnancy but warning the patient not to let anyone know, "mixing up" paperwork and sending someone away who should have been sent to the Death Eaters and so on. I've read quite a few accounts of rescuers during the holocaust. There were three components that were always essential, an awareness of what was going on and the need to act (as a really oblivious person, I've always had the fear in the back of my head that I wouldn't manage this one if I'd been there), the _desire_ to act, and an effective means to act.

Getting back to the murders in Teddy's day, good point. The person doing this has some way to get through defenses. Geoffrey's theory of an accomplice doesn't seem too likely. There has to be a short list of people who could have let someone in, all of whom are likely to be checked for the alibis and potential motive after something like this.

Of course, Goyle must have had some way to get in. The murderer could have forced or tricked him into letting him/her/it/them onto the platform.

The other murder was also in a magically defended spot, though not as closely defended. So, there may be some sort of connection in the areas being chosen.

It's also possible that the obvious motive, revenge, isn't the real one - or is only part of it. The gruesome but nonmagical aspects may be distractions from less gruesome (or just less showy) magical purposes.

If you think you have a psychotic killer who leaves bodies (or parts of them) as a statement - and who has been thoughtful enough to leave one note implying the nature of that statement - you are less likely to check if there's some other purpose being served.

In the case of magic associated murders, you may be less likely to check if the murders are part of some Dark Magic or if the parts _taken_ might be more important than the parts _left_.

That also means . . . the victims may have been chosen not because the murderer has a thing against them but because they're more likely to be misleading.

That last only feels half-right. I feel like these weren't random choices but that there is going to be more irony and callusness in the choices than it seems like at present.

Breathlessly awaiting whatever happens next.

hungrytiger11 From: hungrytiger11 Date: June 10th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love all the classes. And really, in a world where no tertiary level of education, like universities, seem to commonly exist, this seems to be the place/year for them to really perfect the art of creation and thinking in regards to their magic.

Andromeda's letter is very interesting. All the different views really underscore that there are no black-and-whites, no absolutes.

One thing that did confuse me was that at seventeen Andromeda would have been talking about Trials or Barty Crouch. The war ended when Sirius and Potters were in their twenties or so, it seems, and Andromeda was older than them. Though Crouch had to have been a big politician before too, were there a lot of contraversial trails during the war too? (That would make for an interesting story!)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I think Dumbledore mentioned that there were a lot of trials during the war, and that the very late trials where Barty, Jr, were convicted were the end of Crouch's career... before that, he'd been building his reputation, and people really wanted him as Minister. So my impression is that the trials were going on throughout the emergency.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: June 10th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was a nice first day back to school.

However, I'm not sure about the attitudes Andromeda speaks about. Living in a country that was victim of state-terrorism more than thirty years ago, I can tell you that that sort of stuff hasn't been forgotten. The trials still continue- but even if they were lucky enough to not have a military uprising that led to a full stop to trials for 15 years, there are women still looking for the children their daughters had in captivity. If those mothers are still alive- if their husbands or parents are still alive, I find it difficult to accept that they would have wanted to forget so easily. Of course, I understand the meta argument that this is something new to the story, but still. That sort of crime isn't often forgotten.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I think there are two conflicting goals going on with something like this--the first is the revenge motive, the second is the "return to normalcy" motive. In the HP world, judging by the world as Harry entered it, the second motive seems to be quite prominent, which is, I think, true of Anglo culture (at least here)--a sense that the important thing is to get back to a solid, sensible, known life as fast as possible, or else the people who tried to disrupt it "win," which is intolerable. After WWII, the vets didn't want to keep gnawing at what had happened; they wanted to go open car dealerships and get little houses with picket fences. The revenge motive doesn't disappear, though--it tends to wait, watch, and then re-emerge when it seems most pragmatic.

I expect that in the immediate aftermath of the war, the DEs were rounded up and tossed in Azkaban, probably with a lot of complaints that they deserved worse, but the longer it was out of the public mind, the more people would return to other conversations that were more redolent of peacetime.

It may also have something to do with who won--here, after our Civil War, the North was just anxious to get back to business, while the South nursed its wounded ego and still talks about "rising again." The North won, and therefore didn't care. In this case, the non-DEs won, took care of business, and settled in, becoming the establishment instead of the "wronged" party, no matter what happened to them in the course of the war.

Edited at 2010-06-11 12:28 am (UTC)
From: amethystbeloved Date: June 11th, 2010 06:38 am (UTC) (Link)
This year is shaping out to be interesting, and it's just the first day. We've never got to see Year Seven At Hogwarts in the canon, so you must be having a lot of fun flexing your curriculum any which way you like. And with Teddy taking so many classes, the sky seems to be the limit!
31 comments or Leave a comment