Chapter 2 : An Auror Boring Alice
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Victoire was now rapidly gaining on Teddy and he could no longer pretend to not hear her, as she was now quantifiably measureable on the Richter scale.
“Victoire darling!” He graciously reciprocated the enthusiasm displayed for him, noting that it was the kind of enthusiasm only a dog could have, (probably for something it deems to be edible, even though the warnings on the package say otherwise.)
“Oh Teddy, I missed you soooo much.” She caught up to him now and pulled him into an embrace so tight he felt like tapping out. “I was so lonely without you, I missed my little Te-ddy-Bear”, she emphasized every syllable by poking Teddy in the chest in a manner that was meant to be endearing, but in reality qualified under Muggle law as physical abuse.
“I Oof.. I missed you too,” Teddy gasped, as a stray finger found its way to his stomach, completely knocking the wind out of him. He buckled over onto his knee to catch his breath, and heard a squeal that orbiting satellites mistook as a message from earth to self-destruct as the Armageddon had started.
“Ohmygod… Ohmy god… OhmygodohmygodohmyTeddy!!!” Victoire was hopping up and down now, both hands clasped and her eyes watering with tears that Teddy was not altogether convinced were not some form of corrosive acid. “Teddy yes, yes, a thousand times yes!” A journalist nearby took notes, and in the article printed later in the paper all bystanders were referred to as innocent, as there was nothing anyone present could have done to deserve the assault on the senses that was occurring. Teddy looked up, confused, disoriented, and in need of earplugs.
“Victoire, yes what? What’s going on?” But Victoire was in her own element now, asking passing muggles if they had wizarding cameras to preserve this “Kodiak moment.” Teddy would have preferred the vicious Alaskan Grizzly bear to Victoire at the moment. Victoire had managed to find her friend fellow 5th year Tanya Grimmauld, who was now snapping photographs at a frenzied pace. Victoire posed, re-living events that had happened 5 minutes previous with an exactitude that would be the envy of many a Civil War re-enactment battalion, as Teddy was blinded by the rapid fire flash of what he assumed to be a strobe light. Finally, he stumbled to his knees, blind, nearly deaf, temporarily unable to breathe, and utterly confused as to what was happening and why it was happening to him.
“Victoire… what’s going on… why… are you trying to give me a seizure…” Victoire whipped around to face him now, as if noticing him for the first time.
“But Teddy,” she said, her voice not reaching levels not audible in space for the first time in months. “Teddy, where is the ring?” The last word hung on the air like a threat.
“Victoire, what ring, what are you-“ Teddy’s eyes widened now, and a look of apprehension crept over his features like a plague. “Victoire, I wasn’t - I wasn’t proposing to you,” Victoire was now openly weeping, and the smoke rising from the floor seemed to confirm Teddy’s suspicions. “Victoire, come on now, I mean, you’re only 16, you didn’t honestly think I was going to marry you?” Teddy took his first breath in what seemed like years, pausing to find a way to let her down from her pinnacle of ecstasy to the depths of despair without giving her the bends on the way down.
“I mean Victoire, do you really think this is how I would propose? This isn’t anywhere near romantic enough. There would be candles, and wine, and the French countryside at sunset through a bay window…”
Victoire didn’t look fully convinced. He had to act fast to avoid a full meltdown. “Baby,” Teddy put on the charm now, with a voice that could melt butter, “Baby, when I propose to you, it’ll be under the moon, with flower petals cascading over waterfalls and the sun rising over a calm sea,” ignoring the impossibility of being under the moon and at a sunrise at the same time; mere technicalities. Victoire was sniffling now, assured of the most beautiful proposal ever.
“Oh Teddy, I should have known you weren’t ready, this was my fault, I just assumed…” Teddy kissed her on the hand.
“Victoire darling, you never need to apologize for thinking I love you, cause you know it’s true.”
Teddy was allowed a respite from the seven minutes in Hell that had been his time with Victoire by the arrival of his godfather and his family. Time had been kind to Harry Potter, as in the last 18 years he looked like he had aged only 10, despite weathering the hazards of his occupation as an auror. For his first few years as an auror, every wizard with a pentagram poster and a dark mark tattoo had tried setting traps for him, longing the infamy that would come with being the one who took down the great Harry Potter. But as Harry dispatched more and more dark wizards, denizens of the dark had come to give him a begrudging respect as the talented auror that he was. He had finally risen to the rank of head auror when Saladin Savage passed away. Savage held the distinction of being the first head auror to die of natural causes in nearly half a century, but was unremarkable in most other aspects. Under Harry’s guidance, the Ministry’s had a new respect from the populace and instilled fear in potential dabblers in the dark arts.
With Harry came Lily, Albus, and James Potter, three of the most famous children in the wizarding world. When Lily was born the Daily Prophet offered an obscene amount of money for the exclusive rights to Lily’s first pictures. When Harry modestly but firmly declined, Romilda Vane, a former classmate of Harry’s and now head of the celebrity news at the Prophet, took matters into her own hands. When the pictures were released (having been taken from an air vent above the hospital room,) Ginny cursed Romilda so effectively that she was summoned to a criminal trial in front of a triumvirate of wizengamot judges. Fortunately, word had spread as to Ginny’s proficiency with the Bat-Bogey hex, and the judges, preferring not to have their snot grow wings and attack themselves viciously, ruled in her favor.
“Teddy,” Harry offered a hand with a smile. “Seems like it was only yesterday you hid that spider in James’ bed. Now you’re going to Hogwarts as Head Boy, and I hear you’re married to boot-“ Harry laughed as Teddy turned scarlet. “But in all seriousness, your last year is your most important. It’s time to decide what field you’ll go into after you graduate, and how you’ll spend the rest of your life… but you shouldn’t have any troubles, what with the grades you’ve been having – although they’re nowhere near Voldermort’s…” Teddy blanched. He had hoped Harry wouldn’t find out, although he seemed to be taking it in stride.
“Gran – gran told you about that, did she?” He swallowed.
"Yes she did,” Harry answered. “And while I like a good laugh as well as the next, I have to say that I am surprised that you’d give your aging grandmother such a fright.” If disappointment from Andromeda was embarrassing, from Harry, it was like dying.
“I’m, I, uh..” He stammered, not even bothering to think of a line of reasoning to justify himself.
“We all make mistakes,” Harry saved him having to try; “it’s what we learn from them that separates us from our peers.” Teddy was used to hearing Harry say wise things. He really was much greater than he was willing to admit. “Besides,” Harry continued, “you’ll make plenty of mistakes before you get the hang of it as an auror in the ministry.” Teddy froze – had Harry just given him a job offer? “Proudfoot just announced he’s taking an indefinite leave of absence,” Harry explained, “Something to do with killer begonias and hearing voices. If you asked me, he’s fought one too many dark wizards in his time. He’d been on edge for months. Truth is, when you start fraying, better to retire than endanger yourself or others on new missions. Anyway, I got them to delay finding a new auror until the start of next year, so the position should be yours if you want it. Your grades are outstanding and with your abilities as a metamorphmagus, you should be a shoe-in.”
Teddy reveled in the thought that he – he would be an auror! There hadn’t been a new one accepted in five years, as they were so efficient and talented already. He remembered a story Harry had told him a couple years before on Christmas. For Teddy’s whole childhood, Harry told him only the good stories and the funny stories about his late father. But on that Christmas, when Teddy was in fifth year, Harry had told him about a fight they had. Remus wanted to join Harry on the secret mission Dumbledore had entrusted to Harry, Ron and Hermione. Harry had gotten angry at Remus and Remus at Harry, and there had been words exchanged which haunted Harry to that very day. Even though Remus had later thanked Harry for his clarity, Harry told Teddy, he had always regretted that moment. Now Teddy would get to do what his father Remus never had the chance to – fight dark wizards with Harry Potter.
Harry snapped Teddy out of his reverie. “Teddy,” he cautioned, “I want to make one request of you this year. I know that you’ll want to get ahead this year at school in preparation, and that’s all well and good. But do not attempt to plumb the depths of dark magic on your own. Many have thought themselves up to the task and it consumed them. Wait until you’re an auror, under our supervision you’ll get all the answers you need. But… I cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to get involved in dark magic yourself at this age.”
As the train rolled out of King’s Cross, Teddy stared out the window. Landscape flitted by and slowly became a blur as Teddy fell into an uneasy sleep. Teddy Lupin, auror… Now how would an auror go about breaking the heart of a girl who worshipped him?
Teddy looked down into the gently frothing cauldron in front of him. The brew inside was quite enticing. It looked like honey and had a come-hither aroma that was impossible to ignore. At the same time though, there was something off about it, something vaguely… sinister? wafting in its wake that signaled an altogether different use.
“Dolce Mortius,” a cloaked man swept into the Potions dungeon from his inner chamber. “Or in modern parlance, the sweetness of death,” he relished the words as if they were a fruit soon to go out of season. “A potion so cunning, so ingenious, that only the greatest and most wicked of potioneers have attempted it. Is anyone here familiar with its composition?” he queried, as he surveyed the room, stopping to look at each student individually.
There were only three students in the class, as NEWT level potions were notoriously difficult and unnecessary for most wizarding professions. Teddy looked around at his classmates, to immediate right was his fellow Gryffindor and best friend Claudius Le Fay. He and Claudius had met in line for the sorting in first year, (Lupin and Le Fay were right next to each other,) and had immediately bonded over their shared interest in the Chudley Cannons and things that explode. Claudius came from a very old and prestigious (and in some cases infamous) family, and was the last male in the line of Le Fay’s stretching back into the mists of time. Accordingly, his father wanted him to act in a manner befitting a Le Fay – with austerity, aplomb, and arrogance. Claudius preferred asininity and alliteration. To Teddy’s far right, (all the way on the other end of the dungeon in fact,) was Brion Mueller, a Slytherin and an avowed hater of anyone wearing Cannon orange or Gryffindor gold.
“Anyone? Anyone? Mueller?” The room was full of young wizards, and here was a joke for old muggles. Professor Borage paused for what seemed like an age, presumably to build suspense but in reality because he had completely lost his train of thought. Licentus Borage was the younger brother of the famous Libatius Borage, author of Advanced Potion-Making and amateur kite enthusiast. Licentus shared his brother’s panache for potions as well as his eccentricities. He was probably the single most skilled potioneers alive, but like Hagrid’s famous cookies was an acquired taste.
“Dolce Mortius,” he finally continued, “has two main active ingredients. The first is sorrel. It can taste sweet, like kiwi or strawberries. But beneath its veneer of saccharinity lies a deadly poison, oxalic acid. Ingest too much sorrel, even without making it into a potion, and you will die an untimely death, unless,” he smirked, clearly tickled by the notion, “that is the time you wish to die. But there is another ingredient, much more powerful and mythic – crocodile tears.”
“Crocodile tears? Those don’t exist,” exclaimed Brion haughtily, “everyone knows crocodiles don’t have tear ducts.” Professor Borage looked at him with a sly glint in his eye and a piece of spinach in his teeth.
“What is the difference between lie and fact?” He mused. “A fact is merely a lie that enough people choose to believe. In this case, the Ministry spread misinformation about crocodile tears from its very inception. They are too dangerous and easily acquirable for the average wizard. The truth is, crocodiles do have tear ducts, and the do cry – but only as they kill a victim. This makes them somewhat of an inconvenience to collect, and as a result they are quite rare, not to mention valuable. These two ingredients form the basis for the brew, although there are a myriad of other ingredients and the mechanics involved are complex. Does anyone know what Dolce Mortius does? Anyone?” Claudius raised his hand.
“Well professor,” he began, “I heard it can add up to four inches to –urp” that was as far as he got before Teddy elbowed him in the ribs. They couldn’t afford more detentions.
“Dolce Mortius,” professor Borage pressed on, the mystique of the moment having passed with Claudius’ comment, “causes the most curious urge when drunk. The drinker will be seized by a sudden incomprehensible yet inescapable notion. He or she should kill themselves. It doesn’t matter how – results may vary depending on the creativity of the drinker and the supplies at hand. The inevitability of their demise is certain. The feeling is so strong – the coming of death seems to them the greatest idea since self-cleaning cauldrons. We are making this not for future use, but for proper identification in the field. I have been apprised that some of you,” he nodded towards Teddy, “may be facing some dark wizards in time. It is of the utmost importance to be able to know the arsenal of the dark potioneers and how to counteract their potions. Hopefully, you will be able to identify it by its distinctive aroma before ever tasting it. If you do unwittingly drink it and feel an insatiable urge to off yourself, you can self-administer the antidote within the first 20 minutes or so to prevent certain death. The antidote, curiously enough, is a single drop of basilisk venom. It consumes the crocodile tears, while the oxalic acid strips the venom of its fatal elements before it can in turn kill you. Before you use this antidote, you better be damn sure you were poisoned and that you’re not just having a bad day. If you don’t have the poison in your system and you drink basilisk venom – you will die, quickly and excruciatingly.” The final words dripped forth from his mouth almost lovingly; Professor Borage was weirder than a horn-crumpled snorkack (which had been proven existed ten years prior by Luna Scamander.)
Teddy gulped. Maybe Mad-Eye wasn’t as paranoid as the stories said. Maybe there are just always dark wizards trying to kill you when you’re an auror.
“I’m mellllting, I’m meltingggggg.” James had bewitched a set of Muggle army men to animatedly recreate the Battle of the Bulge. Fred, two years older than James and thus wiser, had pointed out that it would be funnier if they recreated the battle as it would have played out in Hell. James capitulated, and they had spent the last half hour watching what the reckoning would have looked like had it taken place in the midst of World War II. Fred was circling the common room taking bets as to which side would win. He seemed genuinely surprised when the Axis won (and he raked in over 20 galleons), despite having placed a flame retardant charm on them before the game had started. “How? How did the Allies melt and your pieces didn’t? You cheated!” James accused.
“I guess the Nazis are just used to the fires of Hell by now,” Fred waxed philosophically. He and James together rivaled the makers of the four marauders in the amount of havoc they wreaked. While Teddy and Claudius would casually dabble in prankery as hobbyists, Fred and James were devoted to it religiously, and treated it as an art form. There was a delicate line between mischief and terror – Fred’s philosophy was you were safe as long as you stayed on one side of the line. He failed to specify which side.
“How could you not have told me?” Claudius fumed. “Professor Borage trots it out like some prize hog piece of information that he’s privy to, and I’m stuck there with my mouth open like a gargoyle!”
Teddy was on damage control duty. He hadn’t told Claudius that he was to become an auror, and Claudius had ended up finding out when Professor Borage had let it slip in class. “Listen Claudius, I just found out myself, right before I got on the train, I didn’t have time to-“
“Then you should have told me on the train. Or in the Great Hall. Or on Monday. Or Tuesday. Christ Teddy, its already Wednesday, you’ve had four days to tell me? What could have been so pressing to you that you failed to tell your best friend probably the biggest news since the Weird Sisters broke up?!” The band had broken up when they realized that everyone thought they were weird and nobody took their music seriously. They subsequently reformed as The Normal Sisters who are Normal and Not Weird, but for some reason nobody wanted to listen to them.
“I didn’t know if it was a sure thing… nothing’s set in stone…” Teddy started.
“Oh, and I suppose the fact that you’re brilliant and the head auror’s godson won’t count for anything then,” Claudius snarled sarcastically. “Honestly Teddy, do you realize some of the things I’ve told you about my family, I probably wouldn’t even be allowed to go to school here. They’d make me go to Durmstrang for sure! And here you are withholding things like a parent who thinks they know what’s best for their child…”
Teddy finally gave in. “Do you want to know why I didn’t tell you Claudius, is that it?” He asked. “I’ll tell you why. It’s because I was scared. Scared that I wasn’t good enough. Scared that wizards, possibly the same wizards who killed my parents, will be after me now. Scared that I’m a head boy who is a wiz with books, but will freeze up in the field, like some armchair explorer who thinks themselves intrepid when they read about adventure on the high seas, but throws up on the side of the boat and locks themselves in their cabin on a cruise to the Caribbean!” Teddy hadn’t meant to get this worked up, but all his pent up frustrations seemed to be pouring out torrentially.
Claudius laughed. The tension that could have been cut with a knife dissipated. “Is that what you’re worried about Teddy? Seriously, I would have thought you’d have more sense. Do you remember when we were cornered by the Acromantulas in the Forbidden Forest, and I accidentally performed and engorging charm on one and it looked like we were goners? You could have frozen up, or turned tail and run, but what did you do? You changed into a freaking basilisk. Who does that? Voldermort himself couldn’t have done that! You have serious chops! Besides, you have me to help you. We can… we can research dark arts together, we can get you ahead of the curve!”
Teddy shook his head. “Harry told me in no uncertain terms that I shouldn’t research this stuff myself. I’ll have to go in cold.”
“But you won’t be alone, Teddy, you’ll have me to help you out if you’re in a bind – I saved you with the Acromantulas and I can save you again,” Claudius winked. Teddy relented.
“So… let’s say we do try a little light research… where would we even begin? How would we even start to figure out what dark magic could be used against us?”
“Well mate,” Claudius rubbed his hands together craftily, “we could start by getting our hands on an all access pass to the restricted section.”
Getting a pass into the restricted section hadn’t turned out to be all that hard. Teddy had plied Professor Borage with a coffee table book about kites, where the actual pages were kites. The professor had been ecstatic with the gift, and was so caught up in its tips (“when flying a kite, it’s important to remember not to leave infants on top of the kite, as they will most likely fall off at high altitudes,”) that he would have signed an execution order if Teddy had asked him to. Victoire had cornered him in the common room, and was trying to extract information about what her birthday present would be. Teddy told her he had to go.
“I’ll go wherever you go, I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth!” she had proclaimed in a warbling wail that wilted nearby fauna.
“Well, erm, I’m going to the library…” Teddy had answered.
“Oh, I guess I’ll see you later then,” she flounced away, rather put off. The library was Victoire’s kryptonite. A place full of books (not a teen magazine in sight,) and you had to be quiet? Not to mention Madam Pince didn’t appreciate students doing their nails there…
Teddy looked up from the weathered tome he had been attempting to decipher. It was written in Chaucerian English, that is to say it was unintelligible but very highly regarded by people who find gibberish to be the highest form of literature. The title page informed the reader that it was written in the middle Ages, by a wizard named Theseus Black (a distant ancestor to Sirius Black,) who was actively dying of the Bubonic Plague at the time. He had in fact inadvertently caused the plague while attempting to make a soup. It had spread throughout Europe before hygiene was discovered, thus effectively ending the plague’s reign of terror throughout the civilized world. Historians speculate that Theseus’ involvement was reason for the nickname “Black Plague” given to the epidemic. Others posit that it just sounded scarier than “Maroon Plague.” Teddy gave up on it when there was an entire chapter devoted to Theseus’ favorite sauces. Claudius wasn’t having much better luck. He had pored through a six volume series titled “The Darkest of Arts” before realizing that it was dedicated to doing things in the dark. There were chapters like “How to Garden in the Dark,” “Yodeling in the Dark,” and an epilogue titled “Things that go Moo in the Dark – Animal Sounds.” Claudius slammed the book shut in disgust, inadvertently engulfing himself in a cloud of dust motes in the process. “Utter rubbish,” he grumbled. “Now I get why this section is restricted. It’s for people who’ve gone off the deep end!”
Teddy wasn’t paying attention. He was engrossed in a book called “Concerning Metamorphmagi, Animagi, and Amoveomagi.” He had known he was one of the rare Metamorphmagi since he was a child, and he suspected that he had certain Animagus abilities as he had turned into a basilisk when he and Claudius had been on the brink of death. But he had never heard of an Amoveomagus. He leafed gingerly through the pages, as they were so brittle to the touch that the book seemed it would disintegrate at any moment. He turned to the introduction.
Deare reader, it began, by dynt of your ability to reade this, you are a chosen heir of mine. Only one of my descendants in a generation has the ability to change their forme at will as a Metamorphmagus, and only a Metamorphmagus can read this book, as it is invysible to anyone else. I wille attempt to open up to you the realme of possibilities that your abilities truly offer. A metamorphmagus innately has the abilities of an Animagus, but also possesses the ability that I alone amonge all wizards have managed to achieve – to become an Amoveomagus. The detailed instructions you will find herein will enable you to become the most powerful wizard of your generation, and to further the causes that have been parte of your blood lyne for centuries. When you have finished reading this book, it will disyntegrate permanently, and the secrete of the Amoveomagus will be upon you to give over orally to your similarly endowed successor.
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