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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Twenty-Six: Guilty, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Twenty-Six: Guilty, pt. 2
Long week of very little writing, though I did get a personalized rejection on something, which is a step up. I think I'm going to expand that story. (I really need to settle on something, and I do love that character. This is the fourth story I've tried her in.)

Anyway, it was easy enough to drop this for a week, as everything was calm, as it's so wont to be in the Potter-verse in June. Nothing could possibly be brewing, other than Teddy's N.E.W.T.s, right? Anyway, he's taking them. The written ones went well, and he's just taken his practical in Divination.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Potions was the most technically difficult of the practical examinations. While Teddy had been right that they refrained from asking for the brewing of complicated potions from memory, the actual process had been one that he hadn't foreseen at all--they asked for the identification of ten potions by testing with available materials, with a recitation of their ingredients, and--in the case of four poisons--their proper antidotes. There'd been a little class work on the subject of identification, but not a lot; the examiner said it was because this proved they understood how to apply theory, rather than simply memorize procedures and ingredients. Teddy felt he succeeded at the test, but it seemed unfair, in retrospect.

Charms turned out to be chaotic. Rather than drill the charms they'd learned, as it had been in O.W.L.s, they were told to achieve particular effects. Since several charms had very similar results, there could have been any number of right answers. Teddy was comfortable with this, but Joe Palmer had a meltdown, and it took most of the week for vines to stop growing out of the walls. Transfiguration was more straightforward, and everyone did well.

To his utter shock, Ron Weasley was the examiner in Defense Against the Dark Arts.

"Harry usually does it," he said when he noticed the look on Teddy's face. "He was going to come back long enough to do it this year, but--"

"Holiday," Teddy said.

"Well, yeah. And there's a storm, so he's stuck there. Besides, he might play favorites in this class." Ron grinned. "I think you'll like this test. Harry designed it from something his favorite Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher did once."

Ron led the seventh year Defense students to the Quidditch pitch, instructing them to wait in the locker room while each took the examination. Teddy was fourth, and when his turn came, Ron signaled to him to come out.

Instead of the open Quidditch pitch, there was a stone wall with a heavy wooden door in it, blocking the way.

"Am I storming the castle?"

"Sort of," Ron said. "Don't worry, it's not a maze." He smiled. "It's just an obstacle course. All you have to do is get through to the other side."

"Without dying."

"Right, Teddy, every year, Harry tries to kill a few N.E.W.T. students. Everyone needs a hobby." Ron rolled his eyes. "Nothing's actually deadly. If you can't handle something, the test stops."

"And so do my marks on it."

"Exactly. Tame, compared to some of your other years." He held up a watch. "Your time begins now."

Teddy headed for the heavy door, meaning to open it, then realized that would be a foolish way to start. He tested it first for trace magic, and of course, it had been cursed. He checked over his shoulder, and saw Ron watching him impassively.

He broke the curse on the door and went in.

He found himself in a walled garden. There were a few easily recognizable threats here at the gate--poisonous plants, an eager hinkypunk, other easily avoidable dangers. Looking down the path, Teddy could see that it became more dangerous as it went; he guessed that he would progress through the various years of his education, though he didn't take it for granted that everything would be in order.

He barely heard the rustling in the bush in time to see the Red Cap run out at him. He hadn't seen a single one since his second year, though in first year, the grounds had still been infested. He pointed his wand and called out, "Exsicco!"

The Red Cap's cap burst into flames, drying the blood that ran down around its ears. It fell to the ground and disintegrated.

Something bumped against Teddy's leg. He looked down and saw the hinkypunk, looking up at him rather forlornly. It hopped a few hops toward what looked like a swamp. Teddy shook his head. The hinkypunk hopped away.

He braced himself and went further in.

The threats became more frequent, and Teddy found himself habitually using the detection spells to find trace curses. In the middle of the garden, a moat stretched entirely across the pitch, and he was forced to swim and deal with a handful of water demons. On the far side, after drying himself off, he had to break a curse on a necklace before it destroyed the mannequin it had been placed on, physically fight off a charmed suit of armor, and get through a wall of twisting, thorned vines that were blocking the way. (He tried transforming into a hawk to get past this, but it was nearly disastrous, as the vines reached up for him, and he barely got away.)

He came out on the other side of them and found Ron, wand raised.

There were no duelling club rituals; the curses came flying, nonverbal, out of nowhere, and all Teddy could do was react--Shield Charms, counter-curses, whatever he could think of. Ron didn't budge.

Finally, Teddy managed to hit him with a simple leg-locker, something so far under the level of what he was doing that he didn't block it. Teddy leapt into the air, transformed to get better height, and landed on top of the last wall. Ron aimed his wand, but Teddy blasted him backward.

Ron smiled, raised his wand again, and said, "Finite incantatem totalis." He stood and held out his hand.

Teddy flew down and transformed again, then shook it. "Do I pass, or do I need to open the door here?"

"The door's safe," Ron said. "You're clear. And with the best time so far. Congratulations, Teddy."


"You're sure you don't want to join the Auror Division?"

Teddy rolled his eyes, shook his head, and left the obstacle course.

It was the last of Teddy's exams, and technically, he could have gone out the front gate and not come back. He had no desire to do that before the leaving ceremony, though. Instead, he spent warm days by the lake, walking along the rocks, looking up at the castle. He went to Hagrid's and helped with the hippogriffs (Roger and Donzo had their exam on Friday, the last of the practical N.E.W.T.s, so they were there quite a bit, working on the other animals). He flew with Dapple, and even took Victoire for a flight. She couldn't take a long flight, she said, as the O.W.L.s were in full swing now, but it seemed to make her happy, and he liked the feel of having her behind him, her arms around him, and her cheek resting against his back. He might have kissed her when they got down--and he reminded himself later that it was probably just as well that he hadn't--except that Story and some of her other friends were waiting for her, and they had a lot of work to do.

The fifth years' O.W.L.s had to be staggered over most of the month, which was one of the reasons the N.E.W.T.s had been rather early--the huge classes that Victoire was in tended to dominate the school's culture. As the seventh years wound down from their own exams and prepared to leave for good, an almost holy hush seemed to settle on Teddy's life. He packed his room slowly and carefully. It would be James's next year (provided he was in Gryffindor, of course, but Teddy didn't think that was really in doubt), and he used the time afforded to him to hide the Keys to the Castle and a few other choice items. The Marauder's Map, he would find a way to give James directly; he wouldn't risk it getting lost. He still wasn't sure exactly how he was going to let it go.

"You'll do it, though," Sirius told him from the portrait, obviously irritated. "What bloody good will it do you outside Hogwarts?"

"I know, but--"

"But nothing," Dad said. "We created it. The Weasley twins saved it. Harry brought it back to us. You brought it back to life. Now, it's James's turn to do something, if he wants to."

"It'll mean giving him your wand, too."

"You knew that when you bound them together."

"Yeah. I know." He sat down on his bed and scooped Checkmate up from the pillow (she gave him a dirty look, as she'd been asleep). "I'll do it. I have to find the right way, though. I mean, there really should be some sort of ritual..."

As he'd expected, Sirius took this theme and ran with it, suggesting ever more elaborate ways that the Map could be passed. Teddy let him talk the subject down.

Uncle Harry had been due back three days ago, but the shielding on the Cloaked Islands was still being troublesome. The longest day of the year came, and most of the school (Victoire's year being a notable exception) was done. There was a cheerful atmosphere laying over everything, and the school was celebrating the long stretch of sunlight with an ongoing feast in the Great Hall. It was nine o'clock and still quite light out, and Teddy was playing chess with Donzo. Nothing was further from his mind than the Ministry of Magic, Sam Cresswell, or his mad followers.

The preternatural lull ended with the doors of the Great Hall crashing open.

Ruthless, looking pale and furious, called, "Professor Longbottom! Robards!" She looked around. "Lupin and McCormack, you too... we have a problem."
19 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 16th, 2010 10:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh yeah. Harry happens to be on holiday, and a storm happens to break there, and it happens to be June at Hogwarts. So yeah... Not suspicious at all. :P
Loved the obstacle course, I'm sure Harry had a blast designing it!
Thanks for taking the time to give us an update on Teddy in what must be a busy month. Good luck with your original story(ies)!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, the storm is natural enough. Though Harry may never be persuaded to take a vacation again...
sophiap From: sophiap Date: November 16th, 2010 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I love how Teddy can now use his hawk form more openly. Plus, it was good to see Ron again.

Given that cliffhanger, I can't wait for the next installment!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad I didn't wait until after school to get Teddy legal.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: November 16th, 2010 02:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no, he broke out!

Oh, no, I'm really late for uni!

Great chapter! Lovely exam!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
To class, malinbe, to class! :D

willowbough From: willowbough Date: November 16th, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Since we never get to see in canon what N.E.W.T.s are like, I appreciate your take on them. Especially the revised Lupin Obstacle Course for DADA.

Ominous ending, of course. A jailbreak?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

I wanted to make the NEWTs less recitation of knowledge and more application of it. Probably not true to the way tests work anywhere, but more interesting to write. ;p
a_blue_jay From: a_blue_jay Date: November 16th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
aka, you wanted the NEWTs to be good tests. ...yeah, definitely not the way tests ever work.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 17th, 2010 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I know, silly Fern, expecting tests to be useful evaluations of subject mastery. What a funny idea. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 16th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very junior Auror comes charging into Hogwarts, obviously in a great hurry, obviously without having sent word ahead, calls for two professors who are probably best at fighting, drafts two senior students (whether because they're senior students very good at fighting or because they may be seen as particular targets of the nutjobs in question . . . ), obviously not thinking - or thinking but knowing it doesn't matter compared to the problem at hand - how this may come across to anyone else there and with what results . . . .

This reeks of quickly developing emergency, probably very BAD emergency, with Ruthless probably having arrived just barely ahead of it.

The only thing I'm sure of is that the enemy is not ready for a full out assault on Hogwarts. Beyond that, all bets are off (bites nails, awaits next part [which will hopefully come SOON (running out of nails to bite, here)]).

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
This reeks of quickly developing emergency, probably very BAD emergency, with Ruthless probably having arrived just barely ahead of it.

Nice weather, eh?
insertparagraph From: insertparagraph Date: November 16th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Showing up in person instead of sending a Patronus? I'm suspicious.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I don't know that a Patronus would have been less conspicuous in the middle of the Great Hall.
insertparagraph From: insertparagraph Date: November 17th, 2010 06:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking more in terms of whether it was actually Ruth (I got the impression somewhere that a Patronus can't be faked).
sidealong From: sidealong Date: November 16th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whoa! Way to have a dramatic entrance, Ruth! Wouldn't floo have been quicker than running from the gates?

I'm in suspense here! Great writing... It's making me miss that 8th Harry Potter book though. You know the one where Harry & Ron finish school...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 17th, 2010 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe Ruth did Floo in, and just ran down from the Headmistress's office?
gypsy_thief From: gypsy_thief Date: November 21st, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks again for sharing your Teddy stories. I'm looking forward to the thrilling conclusion.

Congratulations on your personalized rejection! Sounds like good things are on their way.
starnightmuse From: starnightmuse Date: November 22nd, 2010 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)

oh that was so goood to read!

LOVED the obstacle course and Harry's inspiration for it.

and Ron was great too (although i was a bit confused as to whether it was the real ron or an illusion or something, at first)

and oh, oh. I Knew the peace and quiet were too good to last.
19 comments or Leave a comment