Chapter 6 : Taken
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The file was mostly old newspaper articles, with the occasional picture, and the writing was smudged and mostly illegible, but if he focused on the titles he was able to work out what they said and was able to type them into the search engine. He did so one at a time, reading through each article he could find that fit the criteria he'd come up with in his mind - the date realist agent had said that the house was built and the street the house was on.
In the beginning, the articles were about the family who built it and their fortune, meaningless news he didn't care about. But a few years after that the articles grew darker and caused his stomach to turn on more than one occasion. The last one he found told Teddy that he was on the right track - the spirit in his house had to be the daughter of the man who built the house; Victoria Winters. He remembered the name from the pictures Albus, Alexa and Scorpius had found and cursed for having ignored the coincidence in the names at the time.
But he knew now and it couldn't be anyone else.
He just wished that it would tell him what the woman wanted and why she was able to hurt them, even while dead. He'd been around spirits numerous times thanks to Nicky and, unlike Victoire, he had never been afraid. Because Fred and Cassie and the few others that Nicky was willing to speak to had never given them a reason to be afraid. He'd never known that the dead could still hurt the living.
By the time the librarian had come to tell Teddy that they were closing up, he had enough information to give to Victoire and hoped that with his news and after the incident in the house, she was finally willing to give up on her project and get away from the place for good.
They wouldn't stay there anymore; he couldn't allow it.
Victoire was sitting with her father by the fire when he got back, unable to stay still due to her worry. Her eyes tried to stay focused on Ryan, who was been rocked to sleep in Fleur's arms, but he knew that she watched the door just as often when she turned to him and finally exhaled in relief.
"What took you so long?" she demanded, trying to sound angry over how long he had been gone. But after everything that had happened, she was just glad to see him.
Teddy held up the file, filled with the added information he'd found, and handed it to her. He let himself drop into the nearest chair, exhaustion setting in; sleep was all he wanted now.
"I can't believe this," Victoire whispered, the sudden sound forcing him to open his eyes. "But why is she doing this?"
Bill took the file from her gently, his own eyes widening as he read through it. He promised to show Fleur later, his voice barely able to work as fear kicked in properly and he grew scared for his daughter, his family.
"I need to talk to Nicky, maybe he can find out."
"I'll call him," Bill said, ready to stand.
"No, leave it until tomorrow," Fleur told him softly. "Right now, everyone needs their sleep. As does Nick, if you want his help. I'll make up your old bed, Victoire. Teddy, do not ask too much of Nick, he goes through enough already."
Teddy swore that he wouldn't, hoping that he would be able to keep it. Fleur accepted that he would at least try, knew that it was all she could hope for, and carried Ryan upstairs.
"So, what are we going to do?" Victoire asked quietly, her feet tapping and her hands shaking, but her voice was strong and hard. Teddy was unsure of what to think; he was worried that Victoire's hard tone of voice might allow her to be stubborn, but he also wondered if she was just acting for her father.
"We're selling the house, Vic. I mean it, we're not staying there anymore, I'm not letting Ryan back in that house," he told her, determined to get her to agree.
"You're looking at me like you're waiting for me to disagree," she frowned.
Teddy shrugged awkwardly and wisely told her the truth. "I am."
"I'm not crazy and I know when to quit; I'm not letting Ryan back into that house either," she promised him and he believed her, he knew he could trust her. "I also know when to admit that I was wrong; I should have listened to you when you said it was creepy and wanted to keep looking, I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault, Vic," he told her softly, his hand on hers and he refused to release eye contact with her until she believed it herself.
"You two should get some sleep." Bill cut into their moment softly, standing up and holding out his hand for Victoire to take. He pulled her to her feet and lead her to the stairs, making sure that Teddy followed.
Ryan was sleeping in Victoire's old crib when they got to her room, Fleur leaving a chaste kiss good night on his forehead before leaving them alone for the night. Teddy handed Victoire a nightgown, kissed her cheek and left for the bathroom, only pausing to acknowledge what he'd seen coming for a moment.
He left Victoire to cry in the privacy of her own room.
Victoire couldn't say when she had finally fallen asleep, if she'd been alone or if Teddy had crept in, all she could say for sure was that her tears had still been falling when she'd succumbed to the dark. Ryan's cry woke her up, forced her to open her eyes and come back to the real world. She reached out to Teddy, only to find his side of the bed empty; she knew that he had most likely gone back down and slept on the couch, and though she was grateful to him for allowing her to have her private moment, she wished he'd come back. She needed him with her. The room was too quiet with his mutterings.
It was that thought which brought Victoire back to the reason she had woken; Ryan had been crying. But now there was nothing, there were no sobs coming from her son. There wasn't even a breeze from the open window. And it unnerved her more than she cared to admit.
Had she imagined Ryan crying? Dreamt it? She didn't know.
Cautiously, Victoire switched on her lamp and moved to the crib. But the dread building inside her threatened to come up like bile; she swallowed it down, refusing to admit to what her mind was telling her, but she knew that she was right.
The crib was empty.
Victoire told herself to breathe, still ignoring what her own subconscious was now screaming at her, not letting herself give into fears. Ryan had been crying and Teddy had heard, he'd come for the baby. Or one of her parents had.
She fled the room, rushing to the couch to check on Teddy. He was there, asleep as she had predicted, and he was alone. Then she let out a sob, loud and filled with every fear she had; it woke Teddy quickly and he jumped up to soothe her.
"What is it? What's the matter? Victoire!" he snapped desperately, catching Bill and Fleur at the bottom of the stairs, both with the same worried look on their face. "Vic, please tell me."
"Ryan isn't here," she whispered. "I heard him cry, then it went quiet. He's not in the crib. He's not here, Teddy."
"That's impossible," Bill said adamantly, already moving to check the room again. "He can't be gone."
Fleur stopped him, tugged the sleeve of his robe to force him back down. Her eyes never left Ted and it only took a moment for him to realize that they'd drawn the same conclusion. He waited for her approval, the sharp nod that would give him permission to do what he needed to do, and when she did, he apologized.
It killed her to do it, but they had no choice. Not now, not with Ryan in danger.
Teddy let Victoire go, running to the fireplace and calling out Kieron's address. It took a few minutes for Kieron to come and another couple before he understood that Teddy was serious and they needed help. Only then did he get Nicky.
"What?" he asked nervously, more awake than he should be so late in the night.
"I think Ryan's at the house and I need you to help me get him back. Please, Nicky," Teddy pleaded. "Help me get my son back."
He held his breath as Nicky and Kieron argued, a vague understanding about what they were discussing; Kieron wasn't going to let Nicky go alone and he was winning. Teddy heard Nicky sigh, then come back to the floo.
"We'll meet you at the house."
"Good. Once we're there, you can explain to me how a bloody ghost managed to take my son."
A/N: Hey, guys. Sorry for the wait and that it's shorter, but there was nothing else to add without ruining it and I wanted to leave all of the action for the next chapter. :)
I hope you enjoy. Please let me know what you think. :)
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