Chapter 3 : Lemurs Playing Pinochle
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“Hi Colin,” Teddy responded, resigned to a conversation with possibly the most annoying ghost in Hogwarts – and that’s including Peeves. Most ghosts stick around because they are afraid of death or because there was some overwhelming reason to stay on earth. Colin had chosen to stay forever enmeshed in some pseudo-limbo state as a ghost because he had wanted to see how his latest batch of photographs turned out. As fate would have it, he had left his finger over the lens for most of the pictures, so he would live out eternity in a state neither living nor dead for the privilege of seeing his index finger in various scenic locations. Colin was happy though, as now that he could float through walls it didn’t matter if his prey slammed the door in his face.
“I was just thinking – you know I was just thinking Teddy, the other day, you know I heard that you and Harry will be working together at the ministry,” Colin blurted out in what would have been one breath if he had the ability to breathe.
“So someone told you about that,” Teddy mumbled crossly, wondering how long it would take for the news to spread to the whole school now that Colin knew.
“Well no one so much told me as much as I… overheard,” Colin replied, “as I was visiting the teacher’s lounge to discuss the relative merits of different shades of purple with Professor Enigmus, who had a lot of experience with the color purple while in Albania, and he mentioned that he heard Professor Borage remarking to Neville…, erm I suppose I should call him Professor Longbottom, even though we were acquaintances…” Colin trailed off, as even he could not pick his point out of his long-winded soliloquy.
“So then, there are like different shades of purple for different uses?” Teddy changed the subject, somewhat tickled by Colin’s peculiarities when it came to obsessions.
“Yes well, as you may well know I’m teaching a photography class now,” Colin boasted. His brother, Dennis, now had his twins enrolled in Hogwarts as first years, and if it wasn’t torture enough to have Dennis Creevey as a father, he had foisted his semi-late brother on them as a photography teacher. Caroline and Leibovitz were doomed from the start. Colin had convinced his brother to name one of the twins Leibovitz, not after the famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, but after her nephew Randy, who enjoyed taking pictures of cats in dog costumes. “And we were discussing the use of color in pictures. Purple in particular is fascinating. Amethyst is perfect if you want it to sparkle, Fuchsia is the workhorse of purples, plum gives your photo a sense of gravitas, and then there’s lavender,” Colin was now frothing at the mouth, clearly angry, “masquerading as purple when it’s clearly its own color. People see pictures and say oh that’s a nice shade of purple but little do they know it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as lavender is so much different than purple , so trite, so hackneyed, lavender should just jump off a building and be done with it-“
Teddy was sorry he had asked. Seeing Colin fuming at a color’s choice to exist was worse than talking about himself. “Um Colin?” Teddy interrupted Colin from his diatribe. Colin had turned eggplant purple in his anger, but Teddy chose not to point it out. “Colin, I’ve got a rather lot on my mind, d’you mind if I take a rain check? I’ve got to go find out some things about Salazar Slytherin, so…” he hadn’t meant to mention what had been running through his head as if on a loop for the last half hour – it had just slipped out.
Colin snapped out of his dark place. “Slytherin? Whaddya wanna know about that git for? Bloody lot of good he did for wizards.” Teddy started inching towards the portrait hole. “You know, I reckon if you want to know anything about the man, the Bloody Baron would be the best one to ask. He was a student of Salazar Slytherin himself. Although he’s rude and doesn’t seem to appreciate photography…”
Teddy whipped around. “The Baron was a student of Slytherin?!” He had always thought of the Baron in a sort of abstract sense as having been born a ghost.
“Oh yes,” Colin relished the interest he was getting for once. “They say he was his prized pupil. Back in those days they didn’t have photography you see, they had paintings, and everyone thinks Da Vinci was this great painter, but he actually had a cousin named Francis Ford A Capella who painted the antecedent of what would later become the Dogs Playing Poker series by Coolidge except with pinochle, and they weren’t so much dogs as much as lemurs, which is weird, who ever heard of a lemur playing pinochle…”
Teddy heard none of this, as he was halfway across the castle looking for Slytherin’s star pupil.
The Baron was on top of the Astronomy tower, one of his favorite haunts. Teddy, thoroughly winded from running across the castle and up the stairs, stood bent over, hands on his knees, wheezing and gasping for air. After a comically long recuperation time, during which the Baron stared at him with a mixture of curiosity and disdain, Teddy regained his composure.
“Er, sir Baron, or rather Your Bloodiness,” he started off rather haltingly, surprised that he didn’t even know the Baron’s proper name. He cocked his head to one side in universal dog sign language for confusion. “Come to think of it, I don’t know how to properly address you sir. What’s your name?”
For what seemed like an interminable amount of time, silence. Then: “My name?” The Baron seemed almost pleasantly surprised. “My name? No one has asked me that for over a hundred years… a young Albus Dumbledore… ever since my youth I was taught reciprocity young man. How about you give me your name and I give you mine?” Teddy thought this a fair enough exchange.
“My name is Teddy Lupin sir, 7th year Gryffindor.” He decided not to mention the head boy thing as it sounded too Percy Weasley. Ron had told him that when Percy was first made head boy, he would introduce himself as “Percy Weasley, Head Boy” to strangers at urinals.
“Lupin, Eh? There was a Lupin in my day, quite a trouble maker, thought rules were meant to be bent. Well, I guess I owe you my name now. Cadmus is my name. They used to say it was quite apropos, as I was such a cad. Why have you sought me out, young Master Lupin?”
Teddy was surprised at the Baron’s civility. “Well, Cadmus sir, I was looking for some information on, well, I guess I’ll just have out with it: have you ever heard of an Amoveomagus?” In a split second, Cadmus’ demeanor twisted into one of barely restrained rage. Teddy could see a vein throbbing in his forehead even though he had no blood to speak of.
“Where… where did you hear that word? Are you trying to taunt me? First student I talk to in a century comes here to poke fun at me…who do you think you are?!” Teddy retreated a few paces, taken aback by the ferocity of the onslaught directed at him. There were actual flecks of spittle flying out of the Baron’s mouth, in clear contradiction to his lack of existence.
“Cadmus, Sir Baron, please, calm down, I – I meant no offense, I’m just curious, I – I heard the word somewhere…”
After what seemed an age, the Baron softened. “Well… you know what they say, curiosity killed the cad,” he laughed heartily at his own joke. “But I must ask where you heard about the Amoveomagus. You see, I have only ever heard my grandfather talk about it, as he was one himself, but it was the one secret he refused to teach me. I, who have made a mockery of death, was not privy to the art – it was denied me, my grandfather said it was destined for someone worthy of its power-“ Teddy’s interest was piqued; an indirect link to someone else with the ability!
“If you don’t mind me asking Sir Cadmus, who was your grandfather?” He hoped it was not too forward of a question – he would quail under another barrage from the Bloody Baron in all his wrath. But the Baron remained calm, even amused.
“Why, don’t you see the resemblance? My grandfather, on my mother’s side, was Salazar Slytherin!”
“Normalcy is like an onion!” three voices sang in what would have been perfect harmony if the singers had chosen different notes. Teddy was curled up on an ottoman in the common room, perusing the invisible book he had stumbled across in the library. It was hard to concentrate, what with Molly Weasley blasting The Normal Sisters at a perfectly acceptable level. “On the outside it looks boring like an onion, but if you peel off a layer, it’s a slightly smaller onion (yun yun yun ).”
He had decided it was best to keep the Baron out of the loop on the whole Amoveomagus thing, as he wouldn’t take kindly to knowing that a secret Salazar Slytherin kept from his own grandson was entrusted to a student. He had made a vague excuse about seeing the word inscribed on a bathroom stall and made a beeline for the common room. He hadn’t even told Claudius what had caused him to stumble out of the library earlier. He kept asking people to shush as he was reading, which everyone took as some sort of absurdist humour as he was quite clearly staring at his hands. (What with the book being invisible and all.)
The wizard and witch have long been saddled by the need for an extraneous object, an inorganic component, in performing magic. The wand is seen today as essential in performing charms and curses, hexes and spells. Yet it was not always so. “We like eating yogurt, cause that’s what normal people do,” crooned the voices from the wizarding radio. In fact, the earliest known witches and wizards started off as Muggles who had discovered that they could do extraordinary deeds just by wishing it. “We definitely don’t dress in drag anymore, as that would probably be considered weird,” The truth is, this ability was universal to sorcerer and sorceress alike, yet was lost many years ago, as generations grew lackadaisical about their abilities and unappreciative of the nature of their gift. “And that time we spliced together a boggart and a house elf, that wasn’t us cause that’s weeeeeeeeeeeird!” But it has not been lost… just forgotten. “Although you do have to admit that it’s pretty ironic to have those you fear the most acting with the most servilityyy.” I have managed, with much dedication and my own considerable genius at my disposal, to rediscover the lost art of the Amoveomagus. I bequeath it to you, my heir, to p-
“Hey mate, I know you admire yourself in the mirror too much, but this seems a bit thick even for you.” Claudius was looking at Teddy with a peculiar look on his face. Teddy realized that to the casual observer it seemed as if he had been studying his hands with an intensely studious look on his face for the last half hour.
“You do know we have Defense against the Dark Arts in like 5 minutes right? Are you coming or should I tell Professor Enigmus that you just discovered that you have appendages?”
Teddy carefully placed the book in his bag. He couldn’t miss a Defense against the Dark Arts class. Not if he wanted to be an auror.
For the last 10 years, Defense Against the Dark Arts had been possibly the best class at Hogwarts. Professor Chang taught the class with an intensity that could only be borne out of love or loss; she had experienced both. In Teddy’s first year alone, she had taught them the shield charm and the stunning charm, and by his fifth year she had taught the class such a dazzling array of spells and jinxes, curses and counter-curses, that most of the students felt they could fight Voldermort himself. People said Cho was re-living the best months of her life by teaching the class, that she had devoted herself body and soul to the class because it was Harry Potter’s favorite subject. People said professor Chang, who had briefly dated Harry in Hogwarts, was still desperately in love with him. Teddy was inclined to agree. In fact, Teddy had heard Cho slip up once or twice when the class was in full swing and refer to the class as the DA, which everybody knew was Dumbledore’s Army, a group that she had been in in her sixth year of Hogwarts with Harry. Once when Teddy had performed a particularly explosive disarming spell she had even called him Harry – and the look she had given him at the time was not one he was altogether comfortable with. Truth be told, Teddy didn’t care why Professor Chang was passionate about her subject – she taught it well and had brought about a renaissance in the subject within the school.
But that didn’t prepare you for NEWT level Defense against the Dark Arts. Professor Chang taught until NEWT level, but Professor Emek Enigmus taught the NEWT students. He was the only Professor not to have gone to Hogwarts. He had taught himself, as his parents felt he had too much potential to be bottlenecked by conventional schooling. He had taken the NEWTs at 14 and passed the Defense against the Dark Arts with such flair as to be compared to Dumbledore himself by the instructor. He had spent years in the field, gaining so much practical knowledge in the Dark Arts so as to rival the great Harry Potter, who was now considered the foremost expert in the subject. Whispers were told of his deeds in far off lands, of the time he summoned a battalion of golems to combat an army of giants when he found himself surrounded on the mystical Moldoveanu Peak in Romania. Unfortunately, he expected no less out of his students.
“Welcome.” Teddy, Claudius, and the few other brave souls taking NEWT Defense against the Dark Arts filed into the room. There were no textbooks. Textbooks, according to Professor Enigmus, were for people who could not act. There were no chairs either, as a good wizard never rests on his haunches. They expect danger at any moment, as danger does not consult you to see whether you can fit it into your schedule. Even Claudius would sober up for the class.
Without warning, Professor Enigmus’ hands started dancing. The students already had their wands out, as they were always on their toes in his class. They had almost no forewarning of the type of curse he would use, as only nonverbal spells were allowed in his class. They had to make quick guesswork based on the caster’s motions, their stance, and their prior proclivities. Within seconds, half the class was down. Egmont Hobday was convulsing with seizures induced by the Creptio Curse, while Griselda Jorkins was rocking back and forth in the fetal position, a typical reaction to the acute claustrophobia caused by that permutation of the Phobus hexes.
Claudius charged forward with a flurry of jinxes, only to be repelled deftly time and again by Professor Enigmus. Now the professor went on the offensive. Teddy was used to his favorites by now and managed to counter them adroitly. Claudius was not so lucky, and was caught square by the Dolor Ortus curse, which simulated the pain of childbirth. It was considered second in painfulness only to the Cruciatus, and thus illegal. Claudius’ knees buckled and he went down with an unearthly screech.
Only Teddy was left now to deal with possibly the most formidable opponent in the world. He had been practicing obsessively for the last two years to beat the professor, and the knowledge that he would be an auror caused him to redouble his efforts. He saw most of the curses coming, and for those that he didn’t he improvised. He managed to catch his foe with the Rumpere hex, which tears the ligaments in the body. Professor Enigmus’ cruciate ligaments in his knees were now shorn straight through, which in addition to be exceedingly painful compromised mobility.
Teddy had no time to commiserate with his opponent’s pain in the midst of a sparring match. Professor Enigmus taught them that 9 times out of 10, a wizard’s empathy is what got them killed in the line of duty. Teddy attempted a full body bind, but Enigmus swatted it away with such force that Teddy was propelled through the back wall into the hall. He reached for his wand to retaliate but realized it had probably flown out of his hand during his “relocation.” He saw Claudius fighting to come to grips with the pain he was enduring while Egmont looked like he was having some sort of religious revelation. Professor Enigmus limped slowly towards Teddy, with not a hint of emotion on his features. He started making a slashing motion with his wand. Teddy knew what was coming. Harry had told him the stories about the battle at the Department of Mysteries, of Dolohov’s signature curse.
Teddy didn’t mean to do it – it was involuntary. But then again, there was something so natural about it, it felt as if something he had always known but forgotten was flowing through him, and suddenly he didn’t need a wand, didn’t even need spells – everything around him slowed down. Emek’s hand was still in its downward trajectory, the curse wouldn’t actually be sent until the slight flick at the end. Teddy felt fully confident in his ability to repel the curse, and even had an idea of one that would cause the professor to be encased in a black box within which any magic would be impossible. Teddy knew no one had ever done such a spell before, but limitations were not something he felt at the moment. Emek’s eyes widened as he saw a faint shimmer of energy coming from Teddy, an aura of immense power. Teddy readied for the clash with the adrenaline of a boxer and the calm steadiness of a surgeon. The hand was in the flick now, it wouldn’t be long…
Crack! Professor Enigmus went down. Claudius stood above him, shaking uncontrollably and the palest shade of white. The Dolor Ortus charm had started to wear off, but it was clear he was still in a tremendous amount of pain. He had seen it all - seen Teddy wandless, seen Professor Enigmus about to perform the infamous Dolohov’s curse – and with sheer power of will he had overcome acute agony and punched Professor Enigmus out cold with a single right hook. Professor Enigmus was unconscious on the floor, and he looked almost peaceful without the glare of intensity that often occupied his features.
“Look Teddy,” Claudius marveled as he sank to his knees with sheer exhaustion, “it’s a beautiful baby boy.”
Professor Enigmus came to after a stiff Revival Draught. No one was in any particular hurry to have him conscious again – they had all been in exactly his position at one point or another during the class. This was the first time anyone had taken down the professor though, and with a move Claudius had learned from watching Muggle movies no less. Emek looked around. “Claudius,” he started. Claudius prepared for the worst. “That was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. The resolve it takes to do that while in paroxysms of pain… You surprise me.” Claudius looked prouder than Teddy had ever seen him; praise from Emek Enigmus was about as common as pork in a kosher restaurant. “Yes… I was very surprised today…” his eyes flicked towards Teddy as he said this and he gave him a curious look. He got up to his feet and performed all the necessary healing charms on himself and the students, except for Egmont who’s seizures had inflicted brain damage and needed to be taken the hospital wing.
“Sand." Professor Enigmus looked around at the blank faces surrounding him. "That is what Claudius just did. If you lose your sword in battle, you throw sand in your opponent’s eyes. An underhanded move, but the people who win are the people who do whatever it takes to disable and dismantle their adversary. Later in the term we will have a series of lessons focused on what to do if you are left wandless, when it is impossible to perform magic,” he glanced at Teddy at this point, “how to attack and defend yourself in the classical Muggle style. Today though, we are going to foray further into the realm of the psychological spells with a study on the Phobus hex in the form of Acrophobia, or fear of heights. The subject is made to feel as if they are balanced precariously on a wire thousands of feet up in the air…” the already ragged class plodded on doggedly through the use and defense of the hex. The amount of energy exerted overcoming phobias with sheer will sapped them of whatever little they still retained after the grueling battle. Teddy felt anything but drained though. He had just experienced his first taste of what it meant to be an Amoveomagus.
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