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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Twenty-One: Into Action, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Twenty-One: Into Action, pt. 2
Ruthless and Maurice pose as a couple so that she can come and go without notice and give information to Teddy, who still feels a bit starved for it as he goes on with his Lucius masquerade. Through March and into April, he, Maurice, and the Malfoys set up a scenario of Lucius trying to sell something to Borgin and Burke's. Maurice has been dropping hints that he's broke, and Ruthless has heard that it's gotten through, so they are green-lighting the final operation for this Sunday. He gets this information two days before his eighteenth birthday, by owl-post, in a letter Ruthless has disguised as what she considers a mawkish, maudlin note about their relationship, which anyone looking over his shoulder will see, and she has told him how to see if he wants to.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Teddy knew Ruthless well enough to know that she wouldn't have told him how to see through her Charm and read her "cover" letter if she hadn't wanted him to do so. He waited until after his morning classes and went back to his dormitory. She was right--she'd obviously been a bit drunk, and anyone who'd seen even part of it would have looked away quickly, but he read all of it, except for a few places where the ink was too smudged, and she'd obviously cried on it, leaving it illegible.

Teddy... It's almost a year now, isn't it? Since I came to you, and you pushed me away. Well, I suppose you didn't, but I felt pushed away. I felt like an idiot, if you want to know the truth. I know you'll never be mine, not really, and

Here was one of the smudge marks. It obscured the left half of two lines, and when she picked up, she was talking about how she ought to have realized he was too honorable to hurt her as he would have had to, and then there was something about how she ought to have known that Sam wasn't honorable, as he didn't push her away, and...

Teddy got out his quill and wrote her a very short note back:

I love you and I trust you, and you are worth both. I'll see you soon.
Always yours (in whatever way we need it to be),

His birthday fell on Thursday, and Wednesday night, he used Dad's ring, letting it bring him to the memory of the day he'd been born, when they were both happy and at peace. Dad had held him after he was clean and Mum had fed him, and he could feel the small, warm weight that had been himself, and he could feel Dad's heart beating. The fear he'd had through Mum's pregnancy was entirely gone, and, though he couldn't put it into words, Teddy felt a sense of belonging, of being exactly where he was meant to be, of knowing that this was right.

In the portrait the next morning, they had set up a party in the kitchen at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, bringing in bits of other paintings to decorate. Sirius delivered a happy birthday from the Potters, and Phineas Nigellus came down from the Headmistress's office (he pretended disdain for all of it, but as he had to have come willingly, Teddy cheerfully ignored it). Teddy had a feeling that Uncle Harry would have had to remind Sirius, who would have had to come in and set things up in whatever way the portraits did things--they had no special memories of their own, after all--but that was all right. He toasted them with a goblet of water, and they sent him down to breakfast.

His friends had got to the Great Hall before him, and he found them at the Gryffindor table, with presents. Neil Overby and Celia Dean gave him a basket of food from the sanctuary in France; the younger Weasley girls--Molly and Marie had actually collaborated, along with Aimee--gave him a set of good office things, to use at work next year. Victoire said she had something for later and whispered that it had to do with Martian's Mistake (it turned out to be a very good framed print of the garden scene, which Teddy decided to hang up next to Mum and Dad's portrait, so they could go outside from time to time). Corky and Honoria gave him a new stand for his crystal ball. The owls brought presents from home, as well--new work clothes from Granny, books from Hermione and Ron (and Bill and Fleur), hand drawn pictures from Al Potter, biscuits from Lily, and and a basket of Wheezes from James. Uncle Harry said that they'd get together on Sunday, and he had a present then. Teddy gathered that this would be something related to the case.

Donzo gave him two cubes of condensed Floo powder--the same thing Donzo's father had once given him, to get away from Greyback in the need arose. It had. Teddy frowned.

Donzo raised his eyebrows.

Teddy couldn't very well tell him anything, so he let it drop.

He took a Sleeping Draught on Saturday night to make sure he was rested--there was no way he'd have been able to sleep normally. Sunday morning, he wandered the halls until he found the Fat Friar praying in an empty classroom that had once been a chapel, and asked if he could hear a confession. It was the first time Teddy had done this formally, but it seemed like a good idea, given that he was planning a rendezvous with a killer later. The Friar was delighted at the request, and walked him through the ritual elements of it. He spent the rest of the morning with his friends, at Hagrid's, currying the hippogriffs.

At two o'clock, he gathered the books that would be required for tutoring Maurice, though he didn't think he'd be able muster the concentration to do it, let alone to force Maurice to the task. He Flooed out through Professor Longbottom's office (Professor Longbottom didn't bother pretending not to know that anything was happening; he just said, "Come back to us safely, Teddy"), and landed in Borgin and Burke's, where he found Uncle Harry and Ruthless presumably interrogating Maurice. They both looked up when Teddy slid into the shop.

"Uncle Harry!" Teddy said. "What a surprise."

"He thinks I'm up to Borgin's tricks," Maurice said.

"Well, you've been talking about getting gold."

"I put a flutter on the Harpies game. Your wife said they were sure to win tonight. Was she wrong?"

Uncle Harry rolled his eyes--from a distance, it would look natural, but up close, Teddy could see the stress lines in his face--then looked at Teddy. "I'd have come anyway. Your birthday."

"Oh, right."

"Hope it was happy."

"Yeah, mostly."

Uncle Harry twirled his wand, and a brightly wrapped present appeared. This, however, was cover--as the present spun down in front of Teddy, it was between Uncle Harry and the window. He whispered, "Muffliato." As he spoke, he continued to smile and laugh, like the Muggle game in the box was the subject of the conversation. The others followed his lead. "Listen, Teddy," he said, "we have everything set up, but we can still call it off."

"Like hell," Teddy said, inspecting the gift. "I'm ready to go. I want this son of a bitch."

"I thought you might say that. Your Charmed cloak is in Wiltshire. Maurice will leave a candle in the window if everything seems clear."

"Two if it doesn't!" Maurice exclaimed, making a face at the instructions for the game.

"One good tug," Ruthless said. "That's why I put the charm on the buttons--whether you tug or he does, we'll be there. If you can't move your arms, try to run, so that he'll yank you back."

"All right."

"I won't let anything happen to you," Uncle Harry said. No matter what, you'll be all right."


Outside, something clattered.

Ruthless--maybe a bit too quick on the draw, but not unreasonably--ran out. She came back in, shaking her head. "Cat in the alley," she said. "It knocked over a rubbish bin."

"Are you sure?"

"I saw its tail when it ran away from me."

With that, Uncle Harry and Ruthless left. Teddy and Maurice had to put on some sort of show of studying, and, to Teddy's surprise, they actually got some work done. When he'd finished, he Disapparated to Grimmauld Place, then Flooed to Wiltshire to make the transformation. Granny was there, but to his surprise, didn't try to stop him. She gave him curt instructions to be careful, but helped him into the cloak and held Dad's wedding ring for him.

"You'll pick it up later," she said.

Teddy nodded.

The number of people outside of Malfoy Manor had dwindled over the passing weeks, as people had got used to "Lucius" being out and about, but tonight, probably because of Maurice's rumor-building, there were more curiosity seekers. Teddy had to be careful as he sneaked out of the manor and along the wall. The peacocks were getting used to him, and he fed them a few treats Aunt Narcissa had provided for a realistic view (apparently, Lucius did enjoy feeding them) as he went past. There were neighbors watching the gate from across the road. Teddy stopped on the Manor side and stared at them defiantly.

A young witch screamed, "You're the devil!"

Teddy looked at her coldly, then, in a moment of inspiration, made a crude, aggressive gesture toward the crowd. They stepped back.

He opened the gate, looked at them coldly, and Disapparated.

Back in Knockturn Alley, quite a lot of shopkeepers seemed to have found business to do in their display windows. They watched him pass with avid interest. He could feel their eyes on him. And he knew they were not alone. As he walked he swore that he could see movement from the corner of his eyes--gone when he looked straight on, but there nonetheless. As the shadows grew deeper, the eyes in the shop windows grew less frequent. In fact, when he passed a shop selling what it euphemistically called "human elements" for potions (mainly hair, nails, eyelashes, severed digits, and menstrual blood), the witch tending the display looked at him and seemed entirely oblivious to his presence.

He's Hexed the windows, Teddy realized. Hexed them, so they can't see out anymore. That's how he got the others. No one saw them.

He entered an inky spill of darkness between lit windows--again, something seemed to move at the edge of his vision--and suddenly, everything stopped.

His legs lost their strength, and he crumpled to the ground. He reached for the cloak to give it a tug, but his arms were frozen.

From the depth of the darkness, a voice said, "Lucius Malfoy, you're charged with crimes against the wizarding world and everyone in it. It's time for some justice in the world."

Teddy tried to force his legs to move, or his arm, hoping that Cresswell would grab him by the cloak. It felt like he was in a block of ice, except that he could feel every cobblestone pressing into his knees.

A tall pale form appeared from the alley, his eyes crazed in the pale starlight. Cresswell. He was dressed as an excecutioner. He gingerly took Teddy by the arm, not pulling on him at all.

"Now, we're--"

Something barreled out of the darkness, a small cannonball. Teddy felt a tug on his cloak, and a button fell off entirely. The thing grabbed onto Cresswell's arm, and then all three of them were pulled away, into the dark, into a world where nothing else existed.
32 comments or Leave a comment
sophiap From: sophiap Date: October 4th, 2010 10:44 am (UTC) (Link)
This is wonderful. I'm wondering if the cat in the alley was really just a cat, and of course I'm dying to know what it was that jumped in to save the day (at least I hope that's what it was doing) at the end.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
We'll see... hope it resolves well.
a_blue_jay From: a_blue_jay Date: October 4th, 2010 10:47 am (UTC) (Link)
update quickly. PLEASE.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: October 4th, 2010 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
*nods vigorously*
sidealong From: sidealong Date: October 4th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
We're all sitting on the edge of our computer chairs here...

Great bit of writing!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. It was one of those felt a little mechanical doing it, but it sure seems to have done its job!
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: October 4th, 2010 01:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
My first thought was "Oh, no, JAMES!"

Then my brain started buzzing about who else it could be, who would look cat-like....

oh no oh no oh no....
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
James would have been interesting here, wouldn't he...? (It's not James.)
willowbough From: willowbough Date: October 4th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Killer cliffhanger! And this may sound strange and I could be totally off-base, but I'm wondering if that cat in the alley was actually a raccoon... (My neighbor's cat has a ringed tail and from the back she does in fact resemble a raccoon herself). If I'm right, all I can say is it makes perfect sense that this individual would involve himself in this situation.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 4th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

cat in alley

I was thinking McGonnagal, myself, but a raccoon makes perfect sense. Terrific story, Fern, and great cliffhanger!
malinbe From: malinbe Date: October 4th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have stomach ache.

Also, Lily Allen was not a good choice of background music. I'll pick something better next time.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, dear. Sending mental Maalox! ;p
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: October 4th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hexed them, so they can't see out anymore. That's how he got the others. No one saw them.

That line is chilling.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
What, that he took the others in public view, but they couldn't see?
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: October 4th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
You've built the tension beautifully in this chapterlet -- I had to remind myself that I know Teddy will be around for years to come. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me, too, actually!
cleindori From: cleindori Date: October 4th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eep. More things than cats have tails, and knock over rubbish bins in alleys...

Update soon, please?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Working on it now.
beceh From: beceh Date: October 4th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow!!! Can't wait for the next installment!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I got started at lunch--hopefully, it resolves the cliffie to satisfaction.
lollapulizer From: lollapulizer Date: October 4th, 2010 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was Donzo, right? It had to be Donzo. Now I'm just worried that they're no longer where the aurors think they are!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good thing to worry about.
mathslut From: mathslut Date: October 4th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Augh! This was wonderful. Of course there would be a freezing spell! Where on earth are they now, though?! And did the cat/cannonball know to pull on a button? And did Cresswell take them away, or the cannonball?!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course there would be a freezing spell!

Which they really should have taken into account in their planning, but I'm just going to leave that plot hole alone.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 4th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Brutal cliffhanger. This is wonderfully written. Ditto to all who are begging for a rapid update!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 4th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. Hopefully, I'll have the next section up tonight.
amamama From: amamama Date: October 5th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dzzzt! I've short-circuited! But not more than being able to tell you about this: to get away from Greyback in the need arose Shouldn't that be if?
32 comments or Leave a comment