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Chapter 3: The persuasion
CI by the extremely talented Eponine@TDA!
I didn’t know it at the time, but as of the next morning, we would never look at each other the same. No matter how hard we’d try to hide it, something would be different in our eyes. But in that moment, I was still happily unaware of what lay ahead. Her eyes could still meet mine without hesitation, and we could smile at each other the same way we had always done. She could place her head on my chest and sigh contentedly, and I could stroke her strawberry blonde hair and be amazed, for the millionth time, at the way she made me feel, and at the fact that there was something inside me that made her feel the same way, that made her want to stay with me.
That thing inside me was on the verge of disappearing. But I didn’t see it coming, not at all – of course I didn’t. I couldn’t have seen any of it coming. Ironic, isn’t it? Because that very thing was what would change everything between us, what would ruin the way we had seen each other for so many years, what would demolish everything we had built. The fact that someone saw something coming - that’s what would break us in just a few short hours.
A chaotic thunderstorm raged in Teddy’s mind as he stumbled through the corridors of the Auror Department, eager to get away from his claustrophobic office and his boss’ content smile. Barrett’s words still echoed inside his head: It’s your sister-in-law… Dominique’s husband is going to murder her. If that was true… no, Teddy thought, it simply couldn’t be.
From the moment that Dominique and Ben Howells had met, everyone had always told her that he was a keeper. No, not the Quidditch kind of keeper – in fact, Ben was such a terrible Quidditch player that Dominique’s cousins had forbidden him from ever playing with them during family gatherings at the Burrow – but a keeper in the other sense of the word. He wasn’t the kind of man you dated for a few months and moved on from. No, Ben Howells was, as Rose had put it, “husband material”. And Dominique must have thought so too, because when Ben proposed after two years of dating, she accepted, and six months later they got married.
The entire family liked him. He listened attentively to Arthur’s stories of the latest Muggle objects in his collection – Teddy wasn’t sure if he did it because he was really interested, or if he was just being polite, but whatever the reason was, he did it. Nana Molly adored him – he even got along with Uncle Percy. Everyone had welcomed him with open arms, and he had done nothing but prove that he deserved it.
Victoire had actually been surprised to see how quickly everyone warmed up to Ben.
“Dom is practically your little sister too, Teddy”, she had said. “Aren’t you going to give him ‘the talk’? Make sure he won’t hurt her?”
Teddy had just laughed at this. “No, I think he’s alright.”
He had never questioned Ben or even worried that he would hurt Dominique. And now, as he made his way through the crowded arrival hall of the Ministry of Magic, he wondered if he – and the entire family – had made a huge mistake.
But it couldn’t be true. He could not believe that Ben was capable of murder. Ben was his friend – he had known him for years, and he was not a murderer, nor would he ever become one. Teddy was sure of it. He also knew that Ben and Dominique’s marriage was great, because if they had had any kind of problems, Dom would have told Victoire. So what should he do? He knew what Barrett wanted him to do – his last words were still ringing through Teddy’s ears.
“I hope that it’s true what they say Lupin, that I really can count on you. I expect you to bring him in here first thing in the morning.”
Suddenly, Teddy found himself standing on the street in blinding sunlight. Muggles rushed past him – Muggles always seemed to be in a hurry – a line of cars had formed by the traffic light a few yards away, and the sound of their engines working, horns and loud voices filled the air. It was a beautiful August afternoon, and it was still warm enough outside for people to go barelegged.
Teddy wasn’t sure where he should go. For some reason, he didn’t feel like going home and answering Victoire’s questions about his day. He needed a little more time to sort out his mind, and he really didn’t know how to tell her what might or might not happen to her sister.
His eyes swept over the people that past him. A little boy who reminded him of Remus looked up at him with a wide grin on his face, and Teddy forced himself to smile back. A middle-aged woman almost ran into him, apologized quickly without meeting his eyes and hurried on. It was then that a short, dark-haired man caught Teddy’s eyes. He didn’t know him, but he suddenly knew exactly where to go.
The Potters had a huge garden. For as long as Teddy could remember, he had played Quidditch in their backyard, chased Victoire or the Potter kids around the big house or swum in the little pond, which was currently reflecting the sunbeams, making it look like an external light source that had been placed there to light up the Potters’ entire backyard.
The gravel path that lead from the gate to the front door was rimmed with purple flowers that Teddy didn’t know the name of, and two large ceramic pots stood on each side of the door. He walked over to it, pushed it open and called:
“Hello? Anyone home?”
Only a few seconds passed before he could hear footsteps on the stairs. A moment later, Lily Potter appeared in the hallway, smiling widely as she leaped forward and threw her arms around his neck.
“Teddy!” she shouted with joy. “It’s been too long!”
“We just saw each other the other day”, Teddy reminded her as he hugged her back. “At Roxanne’s birthday party.”
“I know”, she said, pursing her lip. “But we don’t see each other as much as we used to. With Albus gone, it gets a little lonely around here.”
“I’m sure he’d love for you to visit, Lils”, Teddy said as they walked through the house, heading towards the back door. “And so would we. Vicky and Remus are almost always home, if you should ever need company.”
They stepped out onto the porch, where Ginny and Harry were sitting, drinking a cup of tea and playing cards.
“Look who I stumbled into in the hallway!” Lily said, which made her parents turn their heads.
Ginny jumped to her feet. “Teddy! Is Remus…didn’t you bring Remus?”
She looked so disappointed that Teddy had to laugh. “Wow, Aunt Ginny”, he said. “It’s nice to hear that you’re glad to see me too.”
“Don’t be offended, son”, Harry said and grinned. “She just misses having kids around, that’s all.”
“Well, you do have Rose’s little one now, don’t you?” Teddy said.
“Yes, but Scorpius rarely lets go of her long enough for anyone else to hold her”, Harry laughed. “You’d have to fight him for it.”
“I think that James should settle down and have babies soon”, Lily said. “I’d like to have a couple of nieces or nephews. Wouldn’t that be great, Mum?”
“Sure”, Ginny said and raised her eyebrow. “But your brother has a lot of growing up to do before any of that will happen. Teddy, can I get you anything? Tea, pumpkin juice, something to eat?”
“Actually”, Teddy said, “I came here for a reason. I’d like to talk to you, Uncle Harry.”
Ginny nodded, walked over to her daughter and grabbed her arm. “We should prepare dinner, anyway”, she said. “Will you be joining us, Teddy?”
“I’d love to.”
Lily reluctantly followed her mother, and before she stepped inside she cast a longing glance over her shoulder. Teddy knew exactly what she was thinking – she hated being excluded from stuff. She had always been the baby of the family, the one who was sent to her room when they others had to talk about “grown up things”, and now that she was older, she wanted to know everything. She was the most difficult person to keep secrets from, and if Teddy knew her right, she was probably furious at her mother in that moment for dragging her away.
“What is it, Teddy?” Harry looked concerned.
“It’s Barrett”, Teddy explained. “You know that the Daily Prophet are criticizing him, right?”
“Yes”, said Harry and nodded. “They think that he’s too old. Plus there’s the fact that everyone seems to be killing each other in this country, and he doesn’t seem to be able to stop it.”
“Well, he’s found a way”, Teddy said. “At least he thinks he has. He has hired a Seer, and he will have her predict murders. In that way, Barrett says, we’ll be able to prevent murders altogether. She’ll see it if someone is about to murder another person, and we’ll arrest him before he has the chance to do it.”
Harry snorted. “Teddy, did I ever tell you about my Divination professor, Trelawney? Every day since I was thirteen she predicted that I’d die within a month. And here I am, almost fifty years old…”
“I know”, Teddy answered. “I tried to tell him, to get him to realize how dumb it is…”
“Listen”, Harry said. “You can’t let him get away with this. There are other people at the Ministry that you can talk to. Seamus – he won’t agree to this, will he? And if you need to talk to someone in a higher position, there’s always your Uncle Percy…”
“I wish it were that easy”, Teddy mumbled.
He met his godfather’s eyes. He knew that if anyone could help him or give him advice on what to do, it was Harry. But was there really anything he could do? If he’d refuse to follow Barrett’s orders he could lose his job. But the worst part was: what if the prediction was true?
“What’s the problem, then?” Harry asked.
“She made a prediction”, Teddy explained. “Barrett put me in charge of the assignment. The prediction was… she predicted that Ben would murder Dominique.”
Harry’s almond-shaped, green eyes widened in shock. A wrinkle formed on his forehead as he leaned forward, as if to get a better look on his godson. His face had the expression of someone whose mind was in high gear.
“I don’t want anything to happen to Dom”, Teddy said, “but can they really do this? I mean, there must be a billion false predictions every day. Can they really base their verdicts on that?”
“No”, said Harry firmly. “That’s not enough proof. I don’t think you should agree to do it.”
“But what if I refuse, and Ben ends up killing Dominique?”
A loud noise coming from behind them made both Harry and Teddy jump – someone had just slammed the door shut. Expecting to see a furious Lily standing behind them, Teddy turned his head. But it was not Lily’s dark brown eyes that met his – it was his father-in-laws. Bill Weasley’s face was bright red and his jaw was clenched. He stared challengingly at Teddy, as if he dared him to keep talking.
“What is Ben going to do to Dominique?”
Over the next couple of minutes, Teddy watched Bill’s face turn redder and redder as Harry explained the situation to him. By the end of the elucidation, Bill rose to his feet. He looked like he was ready to storm over to Ben and Dom’s house and drag his daughter away from her murderer of a husband.
“Bill, wait”, Teddy said. “I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t anything definite. It’s a prediction, and Merlin only knows if it will come true or not. This is Ben we’re talking about – we all agree that he is a good man, right? Why would he ever hurt her? It doesn’t sound like him.”
“Even so, I don’t want him anywhere near my daughter”, Bill roared.
“Don’t jump to conclusions!” Teddy protested. “Harry, tell him about your Divination professor!”
“Professor Trelawney?” Bill asked. “She was there when I went to Hogwarts too. But I don’t care how many humbugs there are out there… don’t interrupt me, Harry”, he warned when Harry opened his mouth, “because if it was any of your kids who were going to get killed…”
Harry shut his mouth. His eyes flickered towards the back door, towards the spot where Lily had stood just a couple of minutes earlier.
“What if it was Remus, Teddy?” Bill continued. “Would you really have told me to sit back down and relax if it had been Remus?”
Teddy knew he was right. He knew that he had only one option – he had to do what Barrett had asked of him. It didn’t matter that it didn’t feel right, or that his gut wanted him to scream in protest. This was not a matter of choice, of defining his character. It was simply something that he had to do – if not for himself, for Bill and Fleur. If it had been Remus… the thought made Teddy shiver, but he couldn’t stop himself from thinking it… if it had been Remus, he would have wanted someone to do what he was assigned to do now.
“I’m going over there”, Bill said.
Both Harry and Bill seemed surprised to hear the obduracy in Teddy’s voice. Bill stopped in the middle of his movement and waited for the continuation, and Harry crossed his arms over his chest.
“You can’t just show up at their house and drag her away from there”, Teddy said. “Firstly, she’ll refuse to go. Secondly, they won’t understand why you’re doing it. You have to let me take care of it.”
“What are you going to do?” Harry asked.
“I’m supposed to bring Ben to the Ministry in the morning. I’ll head over to their house after breakfast, explain everything and take him with me. Hopefully, he’ll be reasonable enough to come willingly – it’s not like they’ll just ship him off to Azkaban, right?”
“And once he’s in custody, I’ll talk to some people at the Ministry about this plan that Barrett has created”, Harry said. “Dominique will be safe, and we can sort this whole thing out in peace. Is that okay with you, Bill?”
Bill nodded. He put a hand on Teddy’s shoulder, took a deep breath and said:
“Can we not tell anyone about this? Fleur can’t know. And don’t tell Victoire, Teddy. None of them can know anything before Ben is in custody and Dom is safe.”
“Fine”, Teddy said. “And I know Lily is going to beg on her knees for you to tell her what we’ve talked about, Uncle Harry…”
“But I won’t”, Harry promised.
There was a squeak as the back door opened again, and Ginny stuck her head out.
“Dinner’s almost ready!” she called. “Bill… weren’t you going to talk to Lily?”
“I’m sorry, but something came up. I have to leave”, Bill said. “Tell her I’ll stop by this weekend instead. Teddy… let me know how it goes.”
When he had disappeared, Ginny turned her attention to the others.
“Do you need another minute?” she asked.
“No”, Teddy said and stood up. “We’re coming. I hope you’ve made plenty of food, Aunt Ginny, because I feel like I haven’t eaten in weeks…”
A/N: I would really appreciate if you could share your thoughts on this chapter. Any reviews will be very appreciated :)