Chapter 4 : All Work and No Play
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Teddy opened his eyes and looked at the stand of trees that surrounded his grandmother’s house. With a sigh, he picked up the sheets of blank music paper and tried to scribble down the notes he had heard while listening to his surroundings. The sound of the wind ruffling the summer foliage had a celestial quality to it that he couldn’t quite capture yet. The breeze picked up, setting nature singing again, and he smiled to himself as he drew a sixteenth note onto the page.
It was a beautiful afternoon. The scenery was cast in pinks and yellows as the sun slipped down towards the horizon, and Teddy could easily trace the outline of the full moon from his perch on the front steps. Someone was humming an old Weird Sisters song while cooking in the house behind him and tantalizing scents were wafting out onto the porch. In the distance, a dog howled. Just as Teddy had decided to see what it was that smelled so delicious, a peal of laughter broke out from the trees causing him to pause.
He didn’t see anyone in the trees, and it was unlikely anyone would be there anyway, as they lived in a relatively isolated part of the English countryside. He listened intently, but it seemed that even the birds had stopped singing and the forest had grown eerily quiet. The only noise that remained was the woman humming from the kitchen. Suddenly feeling uneasy, Teddy quickly began to gather his sheet music.
“Teddy,” someone sing-songed from the trees, followed by another shout of laughter and the sound of crashing waves. Teddy froze on the porch, the hair on his neck standing on end. He thought he must be going mad, because the only nearby body of water was the little pond they had on the edge of the property. He listened once more, and as the last rays of sunlight left the clearing, there was more laughter from the trees, except that this time the laughter ended in a terrified scream. The papers slipped from his hands as he recognized the voice.
“Victoire!” He shouted as he took off running towards the trees.
“Teddy!” A different female voice shouted from behind him as he heard the front door slam shut. “Wait, no…come back!”
“It’s ok, Mum,” he shouted back over his shoulder, catching a flash of pink hair from the corner of his eye, “I’ll be back in time for dinner.”
It seemed that he reached the woods far too quickly. Up close, the trees seemed stretched and distorted, growing together thicker than they had looked from the porch. Everything was so still and quiet that it didn’t feel real. Something was very wrong. He spun around, thinking he might head back towards the house, but there was only fog. With fog behind him and an endless forest before him, Teddy felt trapped and unsure of what to do. A twig cracked nearby.
There was the crunch of leaf litter and the soft padding of feet, and out from the shadows of the trees stalked a gigantic wolf. Teddy took a step back from the intimidating beast, but it merely sat down and cocked its head to the side as if considering him. Teddy felt his fear dissipate, like he was in the company of an old friend. He moved forward to try and touch the wolf when it gave a tremendous howl. Teddy jumped backwards in fright and surprise. The air became thick and still with tension.
Pain suddenly erupted all over Teddy’s body; it was far more severe than any of his morphs or the ankle he broke when he was seven. Shaking violently, he dropped to the ground. He felt as though he had been tossed into a fire while his bones rearranged and truncated themselves. There was an intense itching, and Teddy looked on in horror as fur replaced his flesh…
“You’re listening to WWN. I’m DJ Derek, and that was the latest by The Jazz Magic, “Babbity Rabbity Pulls a Fast One.””
Teddy sat bolt upright in his bed, his father’s journal slipping off his chest and tumbling onto the bedspread. Breathing heavily, he clutched at his body making sure there was no fur and all his limbs were shaped correctly.
“And if you’re planning on Flooing into work today, you may want to reconsider. The Floo Network is reporting fifteen minute delays on all fireplaces in the Diagon Alley area…”
Teddy wiped the sweat from his brow as the DJ droned on about a contest they were holding for tickets to the sold-out Wendelin concert at the end of July. He picked up his father’s journal and glanced at the entry he’d been reading before he fell asleep.
Last night was my first transformation alone in ten months. It was horrible to be locked up again when Moony had gotten so used to “running with a pack” as Sirius says…
Teddy sighed and snapped the book shut, setting it on his bedside table. With a groan, he flopped back down onto his bed, hoping to get another fifteen minutes of sleep in before work. As the radio started to play Wendelin’s newest hit, Teddy reached one hand up and blindly smacked the snooze button on his enchanted alarm clock.
Forty-five minutes later, the dream was all but forgotten. Teddy was showered, dressed, and bounding down the stairs in search for sustenance, whistling as he went. He took the last two steps at a jump, landing with a reverberating thud on the hardwood floors. He tapped out a few notes on the piano as he passed it on his way to the kitchen where he met his grandmother, who was already dressed for work and pouring herself a cup of tea.
“Good morning,” he said, officially announcing his presence as he strolled in with the ease of lifelong familiarity.
Andromeda gave her grandson a smile that clearly suggested she thought there wasn’t another teenage boy on Earth who could manage to make so much noise in such a small expanse of time. “Good morning, dear.”
Teddy grabbed his favorite box of cereal from the cupboard and headed towards the icebox for the milk only to be circumvented by his grandmother, who handed it to him as he passed. Leaning against the counter, he pulled a handful of cereal from the box and stuffed into his mouth. He was just about to follow it with a swig of milk when a very stern “No” sounded throughout the kitchen. Teddy, cheeks puffy with food, gave a guilty start and looked at his grandmother. Andromeda stared back at him, looking very proper as she sat at the kitchen table, napkin in lap, eating her buttered crumpet and tea. With a roll of the eyes, he reached into the cupboard behind him for a bowl and set about eating breakfast like a “decent human being”. As he sat at the table, his grandmother set a fresh cup of tea before him as well as the spoon he forgot to grab.
“Judith’s sick, so I’m taking her shift,” Andromeda said, setting herself down across from her grandson again. “I probably won’t be home until about nine.”
Teddy looked at his grandmother, not failing to notice the bags beneath her eyes and the thick hair that was mostly grey now. She was still a handsome woman despite the losses she had suffered, and had retained the fine features of the infamous Black family into her late sixties. Still, Teddy couldn’t believe a woman her age was taking a double shift at the apothecary’s located in St. Mungos Hospital, when she ought to be thinking about retiring and relaxing like her and Grandpa Ted has planned. In fact, before his grandfather had been killed during the War, Andromeda hadn’t worked as an Apothecary or anything else since Teddy’s mum had been born. The Tonks’s had had a comfortable life living off Ted’s salary as the Owlery Manager of the Diagon Alley Post Office, and Andromeda got to stay home with her beloved daughter. Teddy couldn’t help but feeling a little guilty, knowing that he was the reason his grandmother still had to work. He would never forget being four-years old and waking up to the sound of sobbing. He remembered slipping quietly out of his bed and peering through the semi-open door at his grandmother crying on stairs, her bare feet blistered, two crumpled pieces of parchment in her hand. That was back when Andromeda had to work two jobs to make ends meet, but Harry had fixed that.
“I was hoping to get to the market today,” Andromeda was saying as she finished her tea pulling Teddy out of his thoughts, “but would you mind picking up some things on your way home from work?”
“Not at all,” Teddy said with a bright smile as his grandmother set a list of groceries on the table along with some gold she pulled from her purse. He noticed that his favorite cereal, something Andromeda would never eat, was at the top of the list. He stared thoughtfully at the little pile of galleons and sickles slowly chewing his food while Andromeda stood to wash her dishes.
The sun shone brightly down on Teddy as he crouched low in the grass, examining a ladybug that was crawling across a stick. Victoire, always eager to imitate her favorite playmate, crouched so close beside him that their noses nearly touched. The sky was a perfect shade of light blue, and the good weather set the field near the Burrow in pastoral beauty, like a scene from an Impressionist painting. Neither Victoire nor Teddy was old enough to appreciate the picturesque quality of the day; all they really cared about was that it had finally stopped raining and they were allowed to play outside.
“Victoire,” Fleur called, her voice carrying softly over the light breeze. Victoire stood up, the trance the ladybug had put upon her broken by her mother’s summons. Teddy stood too, trailing behind his little friend, who was toddling back to her mother as fast as she could go.
As Teddy trundled out of the grass, Victoire was showing Fleur, Ginny, and Molly Sr. the shiny pebble and flower he had given her. “Teddy likes me best.”
Fleur smiled up at her cherubic daughter, adjusting a sleeping Dominique in her arms, while Ginny looked on amused as she helped Victoire’s grandmother finish setting out the picnic lunch she had packed.
“Do you have presents for the rest of us, or is Victoire special?” Ginny asked her godson playfully.
“Everyone’s got something,” he answered annoyed, not liking to be teased about his affection for Victoire. And with that, he tuned out his pockets to distribute the treasures he had collected on his adventure with Victoire. To Ginny, he gave a smooth, black pebble with an orange stripe in it, Molly got a emerald green Muggle bottle cap, and both Fleur and baby Dominique got a flower. Teddy still had three flowers left when he sat down on the blanket to eat his lunch.
“Who are those for, Teddy?” Ginny asked.
“Grandmum,” the little boy answered, his mouth full of sandwich, “she was sad last night, so she gets extra.”
Ginny smiled down at him sympathetically; Teddy knew that all the grown-ups were still sad sometimes about the War four years ago. However, his mind was on the papers stuffed in his pockets, the ones he made sure not to take out when he gave away his presents. Feeling guilty, he grew quiet. He picked at his sandwich, pulled at a tuft of grass, squirmed in his seat, and bit his lower lip. Finally, guilt overwhelmed him. Teddy pulled the papers out of his pockets and confessed his crime to his godmother, “I know I shouldn’t have taken them, but they were making her cry!”
Ginny, who had been taking in the scenery, looked perplexed by this outburst, but she took the two pieces of parchment he held out to her. The first was a bill for an overdue mortgage payment, and the second was a notice from the grocer that he would no longer be extending credit to Andromeda until her balance had been paid.
“Your right,” Ginny breathed, “you shouldn’t have taken them; your Grandmother is going to be so worried when she can’t find these.” Teddy’s face blanched; he hadn’t wanted to cause his grandmother more anxiety. “It’s ok, Teddy, we’ll fix it.”
As if on cue, there was a round of cheers from Molly and Fleur as Harry strolled into view, Auror robes slung over his arm, brandishing the forgotten jug of pumpkin juice. Ginny showed Harry the letters, and the rest of the afternoon seemed to rush past Teddy in a blur of hushed conversations and adult errands. All too soon it seemed, he was being delivered to his front porch in Harry’s arms.
“Harry!” Andromeda said, sounding harassed, as she opened the door. “I wasn’t expecting you for another two hours.” She vainly attempted to smooth her usually neat hair.
“er…yeah…sorry about that, can I come in?”
Andromeda stepped back from the door to let him pass as Teddy cried, “Grandmum, I got you these!” He handed over the bouquet, a little wilted now from its eventful day. Andromeda took them with a smile.
Harry set Teddy down and strode without invitation into the sitting room. Andromeda followed, looking simultaneously embarrassed about the disarray the house was in and confused by Harry’s behavior.
“Looking for something?” He asked casually, indicating the room.
“Yes?” Andromeda asked suspiciously, gracefully lowering herself onto the sofa. She indicated that Harry should take the armchair across from her, but he chose to remain standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, like a boy about to be reprimanded. Stepping forward, Harry pulled the stolen letters out of his pocket and handed them over.
“Teddy had them.” Upon hearing this, the little criminal buried his head in the arm of the sofa his grandmother was sitting on.
“Theodore Remus Lupin…” Andromeda breathed in shock and dismay.
“It’s ok, though, right? I mean you got them back?” Harry interjected quickly, obviously hating having to rat out Teddy. “And I was also wondering if you could sign this?”
Andromeda looked truly confused now as she took the document that Harry held out for her. As she read, the worried wrinkles that had formed between her eyes relaxed and her pursed mouth grew slack—she was in shock. Harry decided to take advantage of her silence and press on. “I want to transfer the remainder of Sirius’s inheritance from Alphard into your account.”
Andromeda glanced up from the parchment at that sound of his voice, only to gape like a fish out of water before lowering her eyes back down to the paper.
“I mean, he was your uncle, too.” Harry said, vainly attempting to fill the awkward silence.
“I can’t accept this.”
Harry smiled as if he’d been expecting her to say that. “Listen, I don’t need it; Gin and I make plenty without having to dip into my inheritance. Besides, I know Sirius would’ve loved to help Remus’s kid, especially since its his favorite cousin’s grandson. And I know that you and Ted had to use most of your savings after the Muggleborn Registration act cost him his job, and that your savings were completely gone by the time…everything…was over and with Teddy too little to be left. It’s understandable that your struggling now; just let me help.”
“You help plenty, Harry. You take Teddy all the time—“
“Yeah, but he doesn’t need toy broomsticks and Quidditch jerseys,” Harry interrupted, “he needs his grandmother. He hardly ever gets to see you. Think about it; you’d only have to work one job or even just part-time.”
Teddy had remained extraordinarily quiet for a four-year old throughout the conversation. He took in all the words, but understood little. At Harry’s last statement, however, the boy crawled across the couch and into Andromeda’s lap, resting his hands on her shoulders. She looked down at him in surprise, an adoring smile playing over her face. She stroked his turquoise hair out of his face with a loving hand.
“And he is going to need to start lessons soon, too. Look at how big he’s getting.” Teddy straightened up, proud that Harry considered him a ‘big boy’.
Andromeda finally tore her eyes away from her grandson to look at Harry. It seemed as though she was debating whether to hex him or hug him. Teddy’s godfather stood in the middle of the room, looking frightened by fruition of either possibility.
“Fine,” she sighed, anti-climatically, “I’ll sign for the transfer.”
Harry smiled triumphantly.
“This came today,” Andromeda said, calling Teddy back from his thoughts again.
“Sorry?” Teddy asked.
“This,” Andromeda repeated and with a plop a large, thick envelope landed in front of him, “it took two owls to carry it.” She smiled down at him with something caught between pride and sorrow, as though she was recalling a day many years ago when a similar package had arrived at the house.
Teddy examined the outside of the envelope, focusing on the part that informed him that it came from the Ministry of Magic, Department of Magical Law Enforcement. It was the application for Auror training he had sent away for earlier that year. Teddy suddenly felt intimidated, knowing that inside was the key to a future he had worked so hard to obtain. He knew he needed three recommendations, two personal essays, a passing physical exam by a Healer from St. Mungos, a complete psychological questionnaire, not to mention a clean criminal record and N.E.W.T. qualifications in Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Herbology. It was a very competitive program, and, despite knowing that he was well on his way to fulfilling all the requirements to apply, Teddy had to admit that the application’s presence scared him a little. It was summer; he didn’t really want to have to think about it right now. With that thought, Teddy flipped the envelope over so that he only saw the inconspicuous, cream-colored back.
“Merlin, look at the time,” Andromeda said, suddenly flying around gathering the things she would need for work. Before she left the kitchen, however, she stopped by Teddy. “Look at you, almost a man, and I still see a turquoise haired baby staring at me from the crib.”
Teddy shot his grandmother an embarrassed grimace at her sentimental outburst. Andromeda laughed at his expression, kissed the top of his head and ruffled his hair before leaving. He finished his tea slowly, trying hard not to think about the application and the expectations people from Kingsley Shacklebolt on down to little Lily Potter had for him. He stood, brought his dirty dishes to the sink, and prepared himself mentally for another day in the wonderful land of retail. With the grocery list tucked safely into the pocket of his robes, Teddy headed out for work. The money his grandmother had left remained on the table.
Teddy was humming to himself later that day as he stocked books at Flourish and Blotts when he heard the bell above the door chime, followed by Victoire Weasley’s delighted squeal as she spotted him. “Teddy!” she exclaimed breathlessly.
Teddy barely had time to register her arrival before he found that all the books he had been holding were on the floor and Victoire was clasping firmly on to his upper arms as she jumped up and down, babbling incoherently about a concert.
“Vic,” Teddy admonished, extracting himself from her grip, “what are you doing here? Why aren’t you at George’s shop?” He surveyed the store carefully as he crouched to pick up the books, making sure his supervisors weren’t lurking nearby. They were very strict, and Teddy had already had a stern talking to this week for being three minutes late back to work after lunch. He had eaten with Victoire that day and lost track of time joking with her as they meandered back to work. So, while his bosses were unsatisfactory, Teddy’s summer was brightened by the fact that Vic appeared to have returned her normal energetic, slightly giddy self.
Victoire had crouched down, too, and began handing him books as she continued to speak in the same excited tone; “I won tickets to the Wendelin concert today!” She pulled two tickets out of the sleeve of her maroon joke shop robes and waved them in Teddy’s face.
“That’s awesome, Vic!” Teddy said as he crawled down the aisle after a children’s book shaped like a Pygmy Puff that had rolled away. He didn’t notice Vic crawl after him, and jumped in surprise when he turned around, after extracting the book from under a nearby shelf, to find the pretty blonde kneeling directly in front of him. Her blue eyes were wide and shiny, which combined with her pale skin and the constellation of light freckles across her nose gave an impression of angelic innocence. She wore a slight, timid smile. And Teddy just knew that whenever Victoire made that face that she was about to ask him to do something he wouldn’t want to do.
“What?” he asked, eloquently vocalizing his suspicions.
“I talked to Mum and Dad about it, and they were worried I’m too young to go to a concert in London—it’s not like I work in London, or anything—“
“At your Uncle’s store.” Teddy felt it fair to point out.
She waved away his comment with her hand and continued to speak as though he hadn’t. “Anyway, it sounded like they weren’t going to let me go, so I told them that you were coming with me,” she finished, anxiously biting her lip.
“You told them I was coming without even asking me first?”
Victoire shot him a pleading look. “They weren’t going to let me go!” She whined, tugging on the sleeve of his robes. “Please, Teddy.”
Teddy grimaced and stood up, Victoire mirroring him. He was not a big fan of the all witch rock group, Wendelin; he admitted their songs were catchy but they only ever wrote one verse a song and repeated it continually. “You know how I feel about Wendelin, Vic; besides, I have a reputation to uphold.”
Victoire rolled her eyes. “Stop being such a music snob, Teddy Lupin, or I’ll tell everyone at school about how you used to sing along to Celestina Warbeck at Grandmum Molly’s Christmas parties. What’s with the hair anyway?”
Victoire had changed subjects so quickly, that Teddy was confused for a moment before he realized she was asking him about his uncharacteristically dull appearance. He self-consciously ran a hand through his sandy brown hair, the “natural” hair color he had inherited from his father. “My employers didn’t think turquoise was very professional.”
Vic smiled sympathetically, but continued to stare at him, pouting slightly. And who could say no to that face? “Fine,” Teddy relented, “I’ll go with you, but I resent being treated like a chaperone.” He shot her his most serious face, which only caused Victoire to laugh as she hopped into his arms to kiss him on both cheeks, causing the books to tumble to the floor again. He felt heat spread to the place where she had kissed him, and took in the smell of the ocean and, faintly, gunpowder as her long blonde hair swept over him. This prompted him to think that he wasn’t completely immune to her Veela charms after all.
“You’re very French sometimes”, he chuckled as she pulled back from him, though she lingered in his arms.
“But, of course. I am quite charming, no? My mother would be very proud.” Victoire said in rapid French, finishing with a cheeky grin.
Teddy, who’s spoken French had been declared hopeless by Fleur, merely rolled his eyes. “Charming,” he agreed. Somewhere a browsing customer cleared their throat, causing the duo to break apart abruptly. Teddy bent down to pick up the fallen books for the second time that day.
“Well, anyway,” Vic said, hastily changing the subject as though fearing he would change his mind if he dwelt upon the concert too long,” I know that you’re giving Fred and Roxy their guitar lessons tonight, but do you want to hang out tomorrow night?”
Teddy shook his head, “Can’t; Kingsley’s niece wants to take up the piano.”
A woman twisted her head around towards where Teddy and Victoire stood, as though shocked that a teenager just referred to the former Minister of Magic by his first name. Victoire was oblivious as she was too busy giving Teddy a death glare fierce enough that it prompted him to yelp, “It’s one of the few lessons I get paid to teach!”
It was true; Teddy refused to accept payment from the Weasleys or the Potters for the music lessons he gave the children. That didn’t stop them from trying however, and once George even had a small change purse full of gold chase Teddy around like a Bludger until he accepted it. Teddy had spent every Knut of it at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, figuring that was the only way George was going to let him give it back. The recommendation of Teddy as a music teacher by the large family to their well-connected friends was payment enough, and business was booming.
“Fine,” Victoire finally sighed, relinquishing Teddy from her death stare, “but you work too much, you know that?” she teased.
“Yes, well, we can’t all have rich Uncles to overpay us to sell magic tricks”
“Uncle George would overpay you, too, if you worked there.” Vic replied. Teddy shrugged, dismissing her comment. Even if what she said was true, Teddy wasn’t keen on the idea of taking handouts from family friends.
“Next year is my last year at Hogwarts, Vic. I’ve got to save up some gold for when I have to go face the big, bad world,” Teddy explained, “besides, I like teaching.”
“Which is why,” she responded loudly, poking him in the chest, “you’ve got to spend all the time you can with your utterly adorable best friend before your off to adulthood. So what are you doing Friday?”
Teddy felt sheepish as he responded, and could feel himself blushing. He cleared his throat. “It’s the book release party for Hermione’s new translation of the Tales of Beedle the Bard, and they needed a piano player—“
Victoire looked disturbed. “Really?”
Teddy smiled apologetically. Her shoulders sagged with disappointment. “Couldn’t they just enchant a piano to play itself?”
“Apparently even wizards find that creepy.”
Victoire smiled for a second before frowning again. “Saturday?” she asked meekly, staring up at him from underneath her eyelashes.
“Well, its Lily’s piano lesson in the morning and then—“ Teddy found himself cut off again as Victoire pushed two fingers to his lips to silence him. Much to his mortification, Teddy found himself enjoying the sensation of her touch. It was reminder of the feelings he was desperately trying to ignore.
“Then,” she said slowly, deliberately,” we’re hanging out.” She nodded forcefully and removed her fingers as she stepped back from him. Teddy instantly missed her proximity, a feeling that caused him to blush even more furiously. His voice oddly absent, he nodded back to her in agreement.
Victoire beamed at him, said goodbye, and headed out of the bookstore, the door jingling as she pushed it open. Teddy heaved a sigh and continued stocking books, pausing to rub the place on his cheek where Victoire had kissed him.
A/N: So, you're probably thinking: Wow, what a super long chapter where nothing much happened. But, I'm trying to establish some relationships and plot points that will be important later on in the story. I hope you enjoyed it, anyway. I promise there will be more Teddy/Vic goodness in the next chapter. Thanks for reading and please review!
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