Teddy gets back to Hogwarts and, after celebrating the publication of his book with his parents' portrait, tells them (and Sirius) that he wants to talk to them.
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
After nearly two years with the portrait, Teddy really hadn't needed to ask it for advice. It didn't contain the spirits of his parents and Sirius, just a bit of their essence, and people's strongest memories of them. As a result, he could have said before asking that Sirius would express great enthusiasm, perhaps embellishing the plan, and Dad would advise caution while acknowledging its merits. Mum was a wild card--either she would be with Sirius, or she would be fiercely protective of Teddy. In this case, she took the latter route, though in the end, the attraction of using his talents as a Metamorphmagus won her over. None of this was a surprise, and, while Teddy found it comforting that he knew them well enough to predict their responses, he didn't feel that he'd got any real insight out of it. Still, it felt good to be able to thrash it out with them sometimes, so he was glad that Mum had at least argued.
He met Victoire for breakfast the next morning. She told him that she was going to Herbology, which she enjoyed, and he told her he was headed to Divination, which was quite important to his career. They stared at their flatware for the rest of the meal, and smiled at one another as they headed off to class.
Teddy and Laura Chapman were the only seventh year N.E.W.T. students in Divination, and they'd worked with both professors during the course of the year. Today, they were in Trelawney's tower, and they both arrived before she did. Laura had set up her crystal ball, and Teddy sat down across from her.
"Cross my palm with silver," she said airily, "and I'll tell your fate."
Teddy grinned. "Don't say that in front of Firenze. He won't let you take your N.E.W.T."
She laughed, and passed her hand over the crystal a few times. It glowed a cheerful lemon yellow. "Seriously, Teddy, I have to See something, or Trelawney will have my head. Did you get anything?"
"I haven't even tried."
"I could do with a question."
Teddy thought about it. "What would happen if I involved myself in the hunt for Cresswell? Ask me one, as well."
"Mm." Laura considered this. "All right, I'll look for yours. You tell me... I don't know what I want to know. Standard--what's coming, any dark strangers on the horizon, and so on."
"Deal," Teddy said, and began to scry. He didn't know Laura as well as he ought, given that they'd gone out for three months in fourth year, but he knew her well enough to ask a general sort of question. Looking into the cool gray mist of his crystal ball--the one he'd brought out of the Daedalus Maze with him--he could see flashes of a world that she was in. There she was in a small flat in the city, and here with a child. There was a tall, thin man who Teddy almost recognized, but crystal-scrying was notoriously unreliable on particular identifications... the mind would take the slightest familiarity and imagine it to a certainty. That said, the man was familiar to Frankie's friend Zach Templeton, with whom Laura had no association whatsoever, other than both being part of Hufflepuff House. He saw her standing alone on a flagstone plaza looking out at a sunset with her camera in hand.
He shrugged and came up from it. "Well, you're going to be fine, I think, you--Laura?" He stopped, realizing that she'd gone white as she looked into her crystal. "Laura! Come out!" He clapped his hands in front of her face.
She sat back, blinking. "Teddy..."
"Am I in some sort of trouble?" he prodded.
She shook her head. "No, no not you. I just... I started looking and I didn't see anything specific, but Teddy... I don't think Cresswell's alone anymore. I see shadows around him. Nothing clear, but they're there."
"Are you...?" Teddy frowned. "Laura, could they just be the people who are supporting him, like the ones writing letters to the Prophet?"
"They could be. I'm not as good at this as you are."
"You're perfectly fine at it," Teddy said, distracted.
The trapdoor opened, and Professor Trelawney came up. Laura raised an eyebrow at Teddy, and he shook his head minutely. Trelawney would just say it was a death omen.
"My Inner Eye tells me that neither of you has been vigilant in your assignments," she said. "Is your vision clouded?"
"No," Teddy said quickly.
"Then there is, perhaps, another reason behind your clouded performance in this class?"
"Mr. Lupin, Miss Chapman, your latest essays leave something to be desired..."
With this, the subject of actual visions ended, and Trelawney launched into a vague, twenty-minute scold about the low quality of their assigned work. Laura, who didn't plan to do anything with her Divination N.E.W.T. was given a soft reprimand, but Teddy was reminded that this, of all classes was one his potential employers would be watching. "This is your gift," she said tersely. "You See clearly, and you See well, but this year, you've Seen nearly nothing, and understood less."
Teddy took it as well he could. She was right; he'd been paying less and less attention to his school work all year, and it already seemed like something unreal. Stephens wasn't entirely thrilled with his work in Potions, either, and his marks in Charms had fallen to average. Even in Defense Against the Dark Arts, he hadn't been engaged since the subject had shifted away from the murders.
"Well, you have been a bit drawn into it," Donzo said at lunch when Teddy brought up the subject. He smiled. "Remember, Maurice said you would, back in Colorado--he said you ought to put up a sign or some such thing, saying that you were busy because you'd got too drawn into something."
Teddy blinked. The trip to the States seemed like an ancient story of some long gone boy, but when Donzo said that, the image of the dusty little shop in Alamosa came back to him--the worry that Granny would be accused, the knowledge that Uncle Harry would be in the midst of it. The idea that Ruthless would be even closer hadn't occurred to him, of course, and the idea that Maurice would lose the most of all would have been alien to all of them. He suddenly wished he'd stayed that morning, gone on to Denver for the concert, followed them along to Idaho and California, met the girl Kelly Sweet in San Francisco with them...
He shook his head. "Never mind."
Donzo rolled his eyes and started salting his meal.
Corky ambled over ten minutes later and sat down with them at the Ravenclaw table. No one had thought twice about this sort of thing with their year until recently, but the first and second years always seemed scandalized now. Corky waved cheerfully to an offended first year, then started picking food off of Teddy's plate. He raised his hand over toward the Slytherin table, and a moment later, Honoria came over. She sat down beside Teddy, across from Corky.
"Are we having a prefects' meeting?"
"Just lunch," Donzo said. "I saw you interviewing Geoff earlier. Did you have fun?"
"It was an interesting new experience," she said primly.
"Ah. I remember when it seemed that way. I think that wore off sometime before the first day of classes first year."
She smiled. "I can see where it might be a bit trying to live with. But really, I was glad to get to know him. I think I'm talking to Lizzie Richardson next, then Frank Driscoll. I'll round it out with Connie, and then we'll be done with Ravenclaw, and I'm on to the rest of Slytherin." She picked at her food. "I'm glad I did Maurice early. You know... before. I'm glad his parents got to see it. How is he?"
"Doing better than I am in his classes," Teddy said morosely. "And that's off the record."
"Who'd care?" Honoria asked.
After lunch, Teddy made an effort to go to the library and do a little bit of extra credit work for Divination and Potions. Stephens had told him that he could choose any other legal potion ingredient to replace the now-banned Mallowsweet, so he went looking for something obscure that might interact on some level with his apprenticeship and future career. He finally chose laurel root, which had typically been used to understand oracular speech, thinking he could create a Stabilizing Solution that could be mixed into a candle, the scent of which could keep a Seer grounded during the course of a vision. In class, Stephens approved of this.
He saw Victoire at dinner when he came up from the dungeons, but as soon as he sat down, she looked at her half-full plate and murmured something about not being able to eat another bite and ducked away. Teddy ate with a very confused Marie and Aimee instead.
Over the remainder of the week, Teddy did his best to close in on his delinquent school work, but the case kept on in his mind. He wanted it over. He wanted to get back to his seventh year and as far from Cresswell as he could. But the only way to do that was to get closer to him first. On Sunday, he sent a message to Uncle Harry, saying that he meant to go through with Ruthless's plan. He half expected Uncle Harry to be at Maurice's, but he wasn't. Instead, he sent an owl on Tuesday saying that they would start discussing the plan soon.
Teddy stopped trying to catch meals with Victoire, and their relationship had become a series of furtive glances across the common room. It was like reading a Fifi LaFolle novel backwards. Teddy was fairly sure that soon she'd simply be a stranger who made a room light up, but who seemed unattainable and impossible to a poor, struggling rogue like himself. And then, he'd find himself living a life where he'd never met her at all, simply dreamed that there was someone out there, and...
He rolled his eyes at himself and got back to work.
On Thursday morning, he was sitting alone in the library when he heard the chair across from him pulled out. He looked up. Victoire was sitting down, biting her lower lip. "Teddy?"
"I, er... well, I think we shouldn't, er..."
"Do you want to break up?"
"Thank God," he said. "I didn't want to say it."
"So we're broken up?" He held out his hand to shake.
She shook it. "Yes."
He closed his book. "You know, I was really hoping it would work."
"Oh, well. Doing anything for dinner? I feel like I haven't talked to you for ages."
"Sounds good. Are you going to the Muggles and Minions game on Sunday? I noticed you're doing a lot of homework, but--"
"Oh, I'm going. Tinny says we're working an angle in Frankie's story, so we should be able to link it all together this summer."
"That's great. How's your book doing?"
"I haven't heard, but they were out of it at Flourish and Blotts when I looked on Sunday."
Settling into the conversation easily, neither of them took much note of Madam Pince talking to Nearly Headless Nick at the reference desk, at least until she pointed at them and Nick started floating over.
Teddy stopped talking. "Sir Nicolas?"
"Ah, Mr. Lupin, Miss Weasley, it's good to see you talking again."
"Were you looking for us?" Victoire asked.
"Just Mr. Lupin," Nick said. "He's wanted in the Headmistress's office."