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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Twenty-Four: Settling Accounts, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Twenty-Four: Settling Accounts, pt. 2
Teddy, Harry, and Andromeda are up at the island, where Mary McAllister has told them Remus died owing a year's rent plus property damage. Though the debt is somewhat questionable, Andromeda reluctantly tells Teddy that yes, his father would have tried to pay it and his mother would have tried to help. Teddy still tries to control the negotiation to keep her from charging absurd things--eg, counting as damage what anyone else would see as property improvements, including a carving on a flat stone of Padfoot and Tonks (McAllister claims to see "a werewolf cavorting with a young girl"). She and Harry are arguing about it when Teddy finds himself momentarily zoning out, remembering things from the ring, and remembering that Alderman had told him he thought Teddy's inheritance had come to him for a reason. He abruptly stops the argument and tells Mary to get her agent, because she has a buyer.

I promise I'll get out of this soon, and I will make it worthwhile in the plot! Didn't mean to take such a distracting turn, but it's where the story wanted to go--I swear, it was Alderman's line that was meant to be a throwaway, but it insisted on coming back.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

At first, Mary didn't believe him, but finally, he convinced her to call Flint, then convinced Uncle Harry and Granny to stop trying to get him to back off. Uncle Harry insisted on calling in Bill Weasley to be his agent, as no one had a particularly strong grasp of financial matters.

Bill got there ahead of Flint and pulled Teddy aside. "Harry, Andromeda--I'm talking to Teddy alone," he said, then enforced this with a Muffling Charm. "Teddy... what are you doing?"

"She's been trying to sell it for thirty years. I'm going to buy it."

"Did you even ask what she was asking?"

"That's why I asked for the listing. I didn't want her to quote a higher price than she's been giving anyone who doesn't want it."

Bill thought about this, then said, "All right, that's not a bad start." He twirled his wand, and several sheafs of paper fell down onto a rock. "These are listings of other private islands, magical and Muggle. The prices are quite variable--the lowest was about thirteen thousand Galleons, the highest... well, this is no where near the highest, but a more average price would be about a hundred and fifty thousand Galleons."

"A hundred and--"

"That's probably what she's been asking for thirty years, and she hasn't got it, which gives you leverage."

"As long as the Hogboon's here," Teddy offered, "she can only sell it in the family, and I think I'm all there is."

"All right. That tarpaper shack your dad lived in barely counts as development, so I'm going to take out all of the islands with real improvements built on them, and keep them in northern waters. I think that will take the average down considerably." He Vanished more than three quarters of the listings.

"She'll say the house is still a house."

"I wouldn't take it as more than ten thousand Galleons. So we'll offer the lowest price--the thirteen thousand Galleons--and add ten for the house if she makes a fuss about it."

"And she'll want what Dad owes. Fifty-two hundred."

"We'll start the offers at twenty-five thousand. If I were you, I wouldn't go above thirty-five. There's a lot of work to be done here."

"I have thirty-five."

"You have considerably more than thirty-five, and interest accrues to it every day, but I'd advise you to take a loan for it. Make a good down payment, of course, but you'll help establish yourself if you take some on loan."

Teddy frowned. "I'm sure that's what they told my grandparents about taking out a loan on the Shrieking Shack, and it ended up stolen out from underneath my parents, and used by Voldemort."

"Please accept that that's a rather rare occurrence. And if you find that someone is trying such a thing, I'd point out that you'll be on an island. Islands are fortresses--that's why Azkaban is on one. It's a lot harder to take an island than a house."

"I've noticed that, with all the Viking relics around Britain. And the Norman invasion. And the Romans."

Bill laughed. "All right, Teddy. But the advice still stands. You don't have to decide today. Just remember, what you have in your vault earns interest. What you take out of it, doesn't. And you'll have a lot of work to do here if you mean to live here. Is this where you mean to live?"

"I... I don't know."

Bill put the remaining listings into a folder, then said, "Teddy, why are you doing this?"

"Are you going to be logical, or just listen?"

"I'm willing to just listen."

"It feels like the right thing to do. Like this is what the gold is for."

Teddy expected an argument, but Bill just shrugged. "I thought it was something like that. All right, then. I noticed you were chafing at having Harry and Andromeda intervene for you, but will you trust me to negotiate? I've done this quite a lot."

"All right," Teddy said. "But no matter what, there's a stone carving that Dad did, and I want to take it home with me today. I don't want it to get mysteriously damaged."

"Fair enough," Bill said, and broke the Muffling Charm.

The negotiations involved with purchasing a property were far more complex than Teddy had guessed, and he was glad he had Bill to walk him through it. Even after four hours (Uncle Harry had needed to go back to work after only one), there was no definite agreement. Mary sat morosely behind Flint, who started at the absurd price of two hundred thousand Galleons, so Bill ignored the development entirely and started at thirteen. Finally, at five o'clock, Flint said his day was over, and he was through taking absurd suggestions. Bill ignored him, and reminded Mary that she'd been trying to sell it at exorbitant prices for thirty years, with no success, and Flint was only holding out to get a higher commission. After she grudgingly agreed to consider it, she sent Teddy, Bill, and Granny back to the mainland. They stopped at the pub on Sanday for supper, and Bill told him, "She'll take it in the end. If she balks, I'll remind her that you're the only other blood heir, and if it's unsold at her death, you might just file a legal claim for it."

"I'd rather you didn't put it that way," Teddy said. "I don't want to be a ghoul, waiting for an old woman to die."

"Not to mention," Granny said, "that that one would live forever just to spite you."

Bill agreed. "More realistically, if we did that, and she became a ghost, she'd have legitimate leave to haunt. I have the impression that you wouldn't care for her eternal company."

"Teddy has more than enough eternal company," Granny said.

Teddy hoped for an answer the next day, even though it was Saturday, but one didn't come. He gathered Maurice's school assignments, played a game of Muggles and Minions at Charmpress, and packed his bags to go back to school with his classmates for the last time. The Hogwarts Express left on Sunday at eleven. All of the seventh years could have Apparated to Hogsmeade and walked; none of them--not even Geoffrey--did.

Sam Cresswell's trial started the next day, taking Teddy's mind entirely off of the island. He would be called to testify to what he'd found eventually, but the day hadn't been set for it. Honoria was again forced to put her series on hold, as the editorial pages of the Charmer were taken up by arguments that pretended to be about the trial. Most boiled down to arguments about the war and its aftermath, what might have been done in a perfect world, what was the right thing to do in an imperfect one. A few younger students just seemed to enjoy the provocateur role, and there was no conversation with them. After a week, Honoria stopped publishing anything that didn't at least show references, which caused a second year Ravenclaw to start a "competing" school paper, handwritten and distributed by poorly mastered Duplication spells. The larger world seemed to be same, with little magazines cropping up to counter the supposedly "unfair" silencing done at the Daily Prophet.

It was a confused and tangled week. A few diehards tried to contend that Sam had been framed, but for the most part, even the sympathetic press thought him mad. The most troubling was a hardcore group that agreed he'd committed the murders, but had somehow developed a system of belief about him that justified them. These were kept from the public at large, except through their self-published missives, but Teddy got a package of those missives from Maddie the Friday after he returned to school, as he was the only one who'd shown any interest in the Mystery of Faith, and this bunch had concocted one of the nastier cults he'd seen. They seemed to be mainly women--judging from their pseudonyms, anyway--who believed that Sam was a divine figure who had come to them to purge the country of its sins. They made wild-eyed prophecies about end-times, and the world that would emerge from the rubble, when Hogwarts, the Ministry, the Statute of Secrecy, and MI6--a favorite bugaboo--had been laid waste. Maddie included a single, short note with this vile delivery: Teddy, are they dangerous, or just crazy?

Teddy thought carefully about it. He didn't want to give the wrong answer, and not just because he didn't want to risk his apprenticeship. Finally, he wrote back, To the Ministry and the other institutions, no. They're nutters and none too well organized or thought out. But to any individual person who crosses them, yes. Tell the Aurors not to meet them on their own ground, and to make sure they work with partners.

Sunday in London came and went. Maurice had testified about his parents' and Borgin's death on Friday, and refused permission for Wendell to do so, on the good grounds that Rita could testify to all of the same things without it being as traumatic. As a result of the testimony, he had lost his good spirits again, and his school work showed it. Teddy made him re-do his Defense essay, and warned him that his other two marks weren't going to be high, either. Whatever his academic failings, the shop was doing well, and Teddy had to wait patiently between customers to tutor him. There was also a bouquet from the American singer he'd been handling, as he'd worked out a good recording contract for her.

By the following Thursday, the last thing he was thinking about was Mary McAllister and her island, and at first, he assumed that the Weasleys' owl was there for Victoire and Marie and Aimee, rather than for him. It held out its foot, and Teddy unfolded the small note. Miss McAllister has accepted your offer of thirty thousand Galleons for the island, which includes the money she claims is owed her, though she insists that I add, "And I hope he has as much luck with it as I did." We will discuss the practical matters on Sunday. This is a long process, Teddy, but welcome to the world of land ownership. Quite a debut!
16 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 21st, 2010 12:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice segment, Fern. And I don't think it's a distracting turn at all. What's always been most attractive to me about your Teddy-verse--besides all the marvellous characters and stories you've created for it--is his connection to the past, and his attempt to build a future connected to it.
He did take the stone home, didn't he?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Huh, yes, I did manage to forget to mention the stone, didn't I? I meant to, if that counts. ;p Yes, he took it home for twenty galleons.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: October 21st, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not only she's an insufferable old hag, but she could live on as a ghost and annoy people forever! There's another bit I definitely don't envy the wizarding world!

I did like this chapter, it brought around a lot of nostalgia for the considerably happier times our adult trio lived. When Teddy first saw the stone... it was nice.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, and given the set-up, it seems to me that people who had an axe to grind with the living would be the ones most likely to go the ghost route, too.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: October 21st, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Andromeda is entirely correct: Mary McAllister is exactly the type to live on for years out of pure spite. Her mean-spirited wish to Teddy at the end proves it. Wonder if she lives long enough to see the island and its inhabitants thriving--it would probably gall her beyond measure. Glad Teddy wasn't too badly fleeced.

The preliminary stages of the Cresswell trial are already bringing out the nutters. Here's hoping saner heads prevail!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was going to have Teddy negotiate it himself, but that's pretty complicated for a first-timer, and Bill was handy. He probably had to remind Marcus that a low commission was better than none at all.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: October 21st, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mary McAllister is a piece of work, but at least she's just bad tempered, unlike some rallying around Sam. Poor Teddy's head must be spinning. (But I'm glad he's getting the island!)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Everyone's head has to be spinning.

People who rally around serial killers and so on just sort of confuse me.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: October 21st, 2010 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pilfering from history always comes up with better stuff than one could make up, doesn't it? ;p I do seem to recall you mentioning research on the Manson Family...

Mainly, though, this chapter has me seriously champing at the bit for Marauder's Roost.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do seem to recall you mentioning research on the Manson Family...

Reality=so much more bizarre than fiction.
amamama From: amamama Date: October 21st, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
*big grin* Hah. He got it in the end, for his price. Negotiated by his FiL to be, though neither knows that at the moment. Wonder what Bill would've said if Teddy had answered "I want to live here with you daughter and fillthe island with your grandchildren?" Mary McAlister is a nast old woman, but in a harmless way (though I do believe Andy and Bill are right). The women in love with Cresswell, otoh - they make me wonder what's wrong with my own sex, that they can be so enamoured by such a madman. Twisted. Great answer Teddy gave Mandy, too.

Thanks a bunch, I'm still in awe of your awesome storybuilding skills.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2010 04:16 am (UTC) (Link)
they make me wonder what's wrong with my own sex,

Well, the other sex has its perversities, too. But that one... is just gross. And self-destructive. And way too common.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 22nd, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can understand rallying around an accused murderer you think is innocent and I can understand pushing for clemency - like a psychiatric hospital - for a murderer you think is insane. I could maybe even understand it if Sam had stopped at the first murder, especially if the first murder had been a whole lot less gruesome (I'm not saying that would be _good_ or that my ability to sympathize that far says anything good about me; but I've read The Count of Monte Cristo and such, and I know the revenge motif can have its appeal).

But, come on wizarding world people, he's gone after people who were essentially harmless and murdered others pretty much because they were there, whether he was getting rid of witnesses or whether he's got enough anger to think anyone associated with his victims in any way deserved to die as well.

Given the fact that he attacked one victim at a train station that he knew would soon have around a thousand minors swarming around it, you'd think that last would give some people pause (especially the ones who were minors about to board said train).

Also, liked Teddy getting the island. Found myself thinking "But what if Rowling meant to do something else with the Hogboon?" before remembering it was yours. I think you're the only fanfic HP author whose stories I regularly confuse with canon, just to let you know.

From: (Anonymous) Date: October 22nd, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Resolutions and Urgh More nutjobs...

*breathes sigh of relief*

Very good thinking of Harry to Call up on Bill. Bill really seems to be at the top of his game.
good that MacAllister is not getting ALL the gold she demanded. one step closer for the sale to be done with. and hopefully Good riddance to her!

and... we go from one nutter to another.

*rolls eyes* this chaptlet reminds me how Cult claims are so utterly idiotic, and its followers so Much Utterly Mental.
I never understood the fascination for serial killers, yeah sure they suffer a lot and that may be why they killed so many people but that is nowhere near a excuse for their MURDERING People INNOCENT or Not in COLD BLOOD.

(for starters Cresswell Mudered two kids PARENTS from being on the wrong place at the wrong time, AND emotionally, physically and mentally manipulated someone for his own gain (ooh I sure Hope Ruthless is asks to testify! that should show those crazy women admirers what utter the psycho/sociopath their "misunderstood/ misjudged" hero really is. )

also are they Bloody OFF their Minds? lay waste to Hogwarts?, which is the main education most children in Britain get??

Insane loons the lot of them. hope someone kicks some sense into them.

starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: October 23rd, 2010 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Resolutions and Urgh More nutjobs...

that was supposed to be me.

I forgot to log in.

a_blue_jay From: a_blue_jay Date: October 23rd, 2010 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure what to say for this chapterlet except that I want the next one RIGHT NOW. And the one after that. And the one after that. And...

I was a little caught off guard by the fact that Teddy won't be there for the entire trial. I should have expected it, of course, since he does have to go to school!

Also, nutters are nutty. :(
16 comments or Leave a comment