Chapter 3 : Saviour
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“I’m going to tell you now something I shouldn’t, even though Harry authorized me to. I shouldn’t tell you because it will change things. It will change how you think of me, it will change you. It will pull you down the rabbit hole, it will end the dream. And I’m sorry for that, petal. I am so, so sorry.”
Rose knew without quite being able to frame it in words that the next few minutes would mark a turning point in her life. Two roads were opening up before her; she could close her eyes, her heart and her mind and Disapparate from this place, forgetting this conversation had ever happened, and continue trudging away at her safe, comfortable, predictable existence.
Or she could remain where she was and learn the reason for the shadows behind Teddy Lupin’s eyes, the lines etched lightly on his chiseled face, the air of disillusion that had settled around him, dampening the passionate intensity that had had radiated from him for as long as she could remember.
“I want to know,” Rose said finally, breaking the silence which had stretched to breaking point between them.
Teddy nodded, his expression grave, but his eyes warm. “I thought you would. I wish I didn’t have to ask for your help, but your knowledge of Mermish, goblin dialects and dark creature lore is unparalleled.”
Rose shrugged, but her cheeks lived up to her name. “Not many people are interested in obscure languages and want to spend their lives translating old books,” she said drily.
Teddy shifted in his chair restlessly. “Even if there were, I still would have come to you,” he said earnestly, leaning forward. “I’ve kept this secret for so long, I don’t think I could tell a stranger.”
“Tell them what?” she pressed. His allusions and evasions were driving her mad; she had to know what he was hiding, why she was here.
He took a deep breath and then got up, coming to stand near her. She frowned, not liking that he towered over her as few men could.
“I’m an undercover Auror,” he blurted suddenly. His shoulders sagged as he spoke, as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders as the words which had choked him for so long escaped into the atmosphere to hover between them.
Rose raised an eyebrow. “There are no undercover Aurors,” she said flatly.
Teddy's grin was a lopsided flash of teeth. “We wouldn’t be much good at being undercover if people knew about us,” he pointed out sensibly.
She gritted her teeth and his grin widened. “I’ve known you my whole life, " Rose said shortly. "There’s no way you could hide that for all these years.”
“I’m very good at concealment,” he said simply. It was a matter of fact statement without any of the arrogance that she would have expected to accompany it. Rose realized with a pang that he had changed when she wasn’t looking. Sometime Teddy Lupin, the eternal boy, had grown up, and this made her feel far older than graduating and moving out of home ever had. She wondered at what point the laughing boy who had teased her mercilessly, given her extra flying lessons quietly and been an immovable fixture in the rosy hallways of her childhood had disappeared.
The man who wore his face, youthful if you ignored his eyes, took Rose’s arm and led her gently across to the wall covered in bookcases, his free hand running across the cracked leather spines of worn volumes lovingly.
“Harry trained me himself. It’s all I ever wanted to do, to be like him.. be like my parents.. learn to fight.. Hermione helped us build this room. . it was her idea, I think, for Harry to have a secret force of under cover agents no one knew about it. . Ron was very enthusiastic about it, but they’re all too famous to be any good.”
Rose groaned. “Dad loves James Bond,” she admitted ruefully. “Worst thing Mum ever did was introduce him to the telly..secret agents are his favourite – oh sweet Merlin, you’re the perfect agent,” she realized. Teddy had downplayed his Metamorphagi abilities for so long, and she was so used to the subtle colour changes his eyes and hair underwent with the strongest of emotions, that it was easy for her, and therefore easy for the world, to forget that Theodore Lupin was a Metamorph.
He laughed, a proper laugh this time, and his hair turned a turquoise blue that was the colour of serenity, of childhood, of unconditional love lapping at the shores of unexplored territory. “It does give me an unfair edge in disguises and concealment,” he said, still smiling.
Her quick mind had seized on this piece of information was absorbed in extracting every last drop of meaning from it. “You could never be detected by any of the spells which neutralize normal attempts an concealment. . you could have your wand taken away from you and still transfigure yourself!”
“It’s an internal ability, so only when my powers are dangerously depleted is it a problem,” he confirmed. “It’s got me out of a few scrapes, believe me,” he said, an expression of mischief chasing away the last vestiges of uncertainty hovering behind his eyes. An answering gleam of fun peeped from Rose’s eyes and she threw off the constraints of maturity and gravity happily. She half walked, half ran to the boxes she had noticed when entering the room a thousand years ago and gleefully began rummaging through them.
“You’ve been a hit squad member, I see,” she said, tossing aside the distinctive red and grey robe to pull out a muggle sailor outfit. “You joined the navy?” she asked incredulously.
He patted the creased white fabric fondly. “I’ve been a sailor, a policeman, a magi zoologist, a construction worker, a Ministry secretary.. and that was just in the last two years,” he rattled off.
“For how long has this been going on?’ she demanded. His gaze slid from hers and he paused before answering.
“Since I left Hogwarts,” he admitted. “The year I took off to ‘go travelling’, your first year at Hogwarts, I wasn’t backpacking through India. I was being trained in mimicry, reading body language, and even muggle style hand to hand combat.”
A thought struck her and jumped out of her open mouth before she could stop it.
“Did Victoire know?” she asked, wincing at how pathetic she sounded. She loved Vic, really she did. Most of the time. Even if she had broken Teddy’s heart.
“No,” Teddy broke into her reverie, an unpleasant smile twisting his mouth. “She hated that I was always away, that I was always tired, that I had.. a boring nine to five ministry job.” Rose opened her mouth to say something, anything, but Teddy saw the pity in her eyes and rushed to continue. “Only Harry, your parents and three other agents I work with know what I really am. What I do.”
“And I,” Rose said with forced lightness.
“And you,” Teddy agreed, an unreadable light flickering in his eyes.
“Aren’t you exhausted?” she asked, looking at her oldest friend as if for the first time. He was tall, not in the lanky fashion of her father and brother; he was all broad shoulders and coiled strength.
“You’ve been working two jobs for years apparently; no wonder you don’t have time for your friends and family, or for a girlfriend!” Realizing how dangerous the words that had tumbled carelessly out of her mouth were she risked a glance at him and was relieved to find him looking thoughtful rather than offended.
“I intend to make time,” he said quietly. Rose felt an unexpected swoop of sickness in her stomach at this and glanced down, puzzled. She never got food poisoning, she had inherited her fathers insatiable appetite and iron constitution.
“What have you done to your hands?” Teddy asked abruptly and Rose unclenched her hands automatically to reveal vicious tears in her white palms from the jagged nails that that been digging into her soft flesh for the last ten minutes. She had not noticed the pain and waved Teddy off as he tried to absorb the spots of blood. He firmly took her hands in his large ones and flipped them over, examining them closely.
“Episkey,” he murmured and her sinew and muscle knitted itself together before her eyes.
“You’ve been a healer as well, haven’t you?” she asked drily, making the mistake of meeting his gaze in an attempt to be distracted by the sensation of his hands lightly squeezing hers.
Rose Weasley was sensible. She was not the type of girl to be drawn in by good looks alone; although she had dallied with the incomparable Scorpius Malfoy, that affair had been as much for the allure of the forbidden as anything else, a childhood fit of rebellion she had sensibly grown out of. She had dutifully gone along to one or two dates her incorrigible mother had set up; all nice, successful, respectable young men, some of which she had enjoyed the company of. But she was always in control. She was a Weasley, a brilliant witch, a respected researcher and no one ever forgot it.
Here she was just Rose and he was just Teddy, secret agent or not. He was Teddy and he had always been stability and the safety, a pillar and an almost relation, not rushing white water rapids and tumbling over sheer cliff faces, to fall or fly. The doors of her mind have been determinedly shut for many years now, but an impossible possibility is dimly illuminated, strains to worm its way in.
Rose took a breath and ignored it, like she ignored the amusement in his eyes as he watched the clockwork turns of her mind, like she ignored the question asked by his quirked eyebrows, the peculiar pursing of lips when she stepped back and freed her hands from his hold.
When it came down to it, he was Teddy. That was what was important, that was enough. He was Teddy. And he would make some glamorous, successful, exciting woman the happiest on earth. Rose being Rose, she should analyses why this causes a sour taste to seep in her mouth, but Rose being Rose she searched for answers to the problems of the world rather than in herself.
“It doesn’t make sense,” she said, as much as to break the curious silence as anything else. “Surely the Ministry has had secret agents before, why did Uncle Harry need his own special unit? Why aren’t there more of you?”
“You've shot straight to the heart of things as usual,” Teddy noted wryly. “It started off because Harry wanted me to have as much of a normal life as possible. He’s lived in the spot light always; he wanted me to be as normal as I could be. Then things changed.. the wizarding world is not like it was a few years ago.. the Ministry likes to keep very tight control of their assets these days. Uncle Harry is watched, especially in the current political climate..” he trailed off to look at Rose questioningly.
She grimaced in reply. “Do you think, considering my mother, my uncle – wait, my whole family, that I wouldn’t know all about James van Roden and his ridiculous, disgusting, unbelievably popular movement to tag and track non-human magical animals?” she asked sardonically.
He did not grin in reply as she expected, he knew Percy and Hermione almost as well, if not better than she. His face was somber as he looked down at her.
“Van Roden has been gaining followers at a tremendous rate over the years. There have been accidents, attacks, kidnappings of magical children that he blames the werewolves for, or the vampires, or the centaurs-”
“My father’s convinced they are set ups by van Roden,” Rose said, screwing up her face in distaste.
“It’s impossible to find any evidence of him being behind it, and with Harry being sick, Percy being overseas and Ron always out on missions, its been up to your mother alone to fight him legislation for legislation.”
“Don’t I know it,” agreed Rose. “Teddy. What does this have to do with me? I appreciate – more than you can know – you letting me into this, but I know you didn’t do it willingly. What do you need me for?”
Teddy bit his lip, hesitating for a moment before replying. “There’s a summit in Transylvania on werewolf regulations I am speaking at. We’ve had reports trickling in of an alliance between goblins and vampires, plans of an uprising. I need a translator so I can negotiate with them.”
“Why can’t you use spells?” she asked instantly, her eyes narrowing suspiciously.
He sighed. “They want us to go in without our wands,” he said relunctantly.
Rose felt her hand curl instinctively around her wand, easily the most precious object she owned and shook her head so violently he red curls swung through the air.
“You’re insane,” she said unequivocally. “They will rip us apart, and eat us alive, and I won’t allow that, Theodore.”
“There will a team of agents nearby monitoring our every move, getting ready to rush in if we so much as trip and fall over,” Teddy said earnestly. “Do you really think your father and godfather would agree to you risking your life?”
She shrugged, still horrified by the idea of shelving her wand. It would be worse than cutting of a limb, or losing vision in one eye. Magic was her life, her power, its endless possibility, were things she relied on, things she needed. She could not let them go.
“Come with me,” he said one more time, a note of real pleading in his voice. “I need you, Rose. I can’t do this without you.”
She glared at him, for forcing this choice on her.
“How important is this meeting?” she asked reluctantly, snapping her frown back into place as his face lit up.
“You know I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t crucial, petal,” he said seriously. “This meeting could prevent another war, or start one.”
She stalked past him to flop into the more comfortable of the two chairs that were the sole furniture in the room. Everywhere she looked, she saw reminders of his cause, from the books on dark creatures lining the book cases to the plethora of costumes spilling out of boxes. Rose put her face in her hands and groaned.
“Think of it as an adventure, Rose,” Ted said softly. She did not need to emerge from her self constructed haven of fingers to know that he was kneeling before her, his face written over with need. “You’ve spent your whole life doing what is safe, and predictable, and dull. Live a little. This is an adventure of a lifetime, a chance to make history, not just read about it.”
Rose let her fingers fall to her lap, where she twisted them about restlessly. She looked into Theodore Lupin’s face, hovering inches away from her, smiling infectiously and her scowl deepened. This was no laughing matter.
Two roads opened up before her, two paths one Rose could tread. They would define her, change her, make her. They were real; she could almost see their spectral forms superimposed behind her vision of Teddy. She closed her eyes, and it made no difference, she could still see the roads. His face.
Rose made her choice.
dun dun dun!
So there is ONE more chapter left (yes, I know this is short, but this was a oneshot I split into four. I'm toying with the idea of making it longer, but I have three other WIPS..) Please let me know what you think!
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