Pairings: Teddy/Bill, mentions of Teddy/Victoire, past Remus/Bill and Remus/Sirius
Word Count: ~19000
Warnings: Some dirty talk, some bondage, some D/s
Summary: A discovery in Andromeda Tonks' attic sends Teddy Lupin on a quest to find out the truth about his father. He is led to Bill Weasley, and he gets more questions than answers
Author's Notes: This was written for violet_quill in the 2008 hp_summersmut fic exchange. A big thank you and a dozen candy necklaces to thescarletwoman, who not only beta'd this fic, but ran the whole fest brilliantly. There is a sequel in the works, which will be entitled "Bill and Teddy's Excellent Adventure" because I cannot help myself...
The dust particles rose up so thickly it almost looked like it was snowing in front of the large, round window in the attic. Teddy covered his nose instinctively. His allergies were always close to the surface, easily set off-- he'd never understood how in the thousand-odd years of recorded Wizarding history, no one had ever worked out a potion to get rid of dust- and pollen-related allergies.
The attic looked like a miniaturized Hogwarts, a model built entirely of old boxes and trunks. Turrets rose here and there, one teetering so precariously, it looked like it might do a Pisa at any moment. And all around, the snowflake-sized dust motes danced, disturbed from their years-long slumber by Teddy's intrusive presence.
He remembered coming up here when he was very small, and Nana had wanted to show him pictures of his mother when she was very small. Nana, who did not resemble Teddy's mother in any way that Teddy had ever been able to discern, had placed a significant emphasis on how much he resembled Nymphadora Tonks. Beyond the very obvious, the fact that they were both metamorphmagi, Teddy also had her naturally mousy brown hair and brown eyes, whenever he actually let them stay natural. Which wasn't ever for long. She had been much shorter than he was now, though, and he'd always had an impression, not of dumpiness or even plumpness, but of a roundness to her, a softness. He knew he must take after his father in his gangliness, his too-long limbs. He sometimes wondered about the keen sense of smell, too. He actually figured he knew more about his namesake, Grandpa Ted, than he knew about Remus Lupin.
There were surprisingly few pictures of his father around. Nana had banished them from the house, even going so far as to blast his little moving likeness out of the few family photographs she'd kept around. In those images, a late-twenties Tonks could be seen staring worriedly off to the side, as though the banished-Remus was lurking just out of sight. The baby Teddy never seemed that concerned. After all, the baby Teddy in those photos had no idea that he would grow up not knowing his parents, outside stories of staggering heroism and classroom hijinks.
If he hadn't been up here since he was nine or ten-- he knew it was before he'd gone to Hogwarts for the first time-- it looked as though his Nana hadn't either. Everything looked about the same as he remembered it, only dustier and, through adult eyes, just a little bit smaller. He wasn't sure why exactly he'd prowled up here beyond a natural, insatiable curiosity. When his grandmother had asked him to house-sit for her, his first thought had been about as far from snooping through old boxes as it could get-- it had, in fact, involved snooping under Victoire's robes, if she would let him.
And she wasn't in the mood to let him, yet again. Even though this was the best chance they'd have to be alone together in who knew how long-- Teddy still lived with his Nana, who was nearly always home. Victoire was off with stupid Blythe Shacklebolt, though, that pompous, posturing git who thought he was so great just because his father had been Minister for Magic for something like a decade. So sodding what, was what Teddy wanted to know. Clearly, being the son of two fallen war heroes, being the spawn of a werewolf, and being able to turn his hair blue and morph cool scars across his face, which he damned well knew she liked, just wasn't good enough for her.
The floorboard under his foot creaked in protest, an almost human groan beneath his weight. He walked softly, on the balls of his feet, across the attic. The window was covered with a filmy grime, years of neglect made tangible. It proved a stark contrast to the rest of the house, which was so meticulously upkept. Perhaps he could clean it out for her. If she would like that.
He danced his fingertips lightly along the edge of the nearest box. In a spray of ink, it was marked "spellbooks-- Nymphadora's." He smiled slightly at the remembrance of these-- Nana had tried to convince him that he didn't need new books for his first year at school, that he should be proud to carry his mother's bleeding thirty-year-old textbooks into a classroom full of kids who would already think he was a freak for about eighty different reasons.
Uncle Harry had talked her out of the notion, after a tearful fire-call one evening to appeal to him. Teddy had always gone to Uncle Harry-- his favourite uncle, if truth be told-- when these sorts of things came up. It had nothing to do with Harry's last name and everything to do with the fact that no one else understood quite so well what it was like to have two parents killed in a war, leaving you an orphan without a single memory of them, and leaving you with a legacy of magical skill and history that the entire school knew about before you'd even learned your classmate's names.
Reaching into one of the many inner pockets he'd sewn into his black robes, he removed his favourite pocket knife. Its ivory handle, fashioned from a walrus' tusk, was curved exactly to the palm of his hand. He kept the blade killingly sharp, striking it every few days against a rock and watching the sparks spray away from the violent contact. With the care of someone who had done this a time or two in the past, he sliced away the twine holding the box closed and popped off its top. Inside reposed the textbooks of a school-aged Nymphadora Tonks, untouched by the intervening years. Lovingly, he lifted the first one out, running a practiced finger down its leather spine. The book was in terrible shape, misused for at least a year or two. His mother had been a klutz and must have had no respect whatsoever for books. The spine was creased, the binding frayed, and he could see at least three huge stains on the front cover alone.
Still, the leather was in decent condition, and while many of the pages had been crinkled-- and sweet Merlin, she'd dog-eared pages. How could a mother of his dog-ear a page?-- they were all legible. He dug his glasses out of his pocket and perched them on the bridge of his nose. The Standard Book of Spells Level 5. He thumbed gently through the tome, pausing each time he glimpsed her handwriting. It was a script he knew well, from years of reading old letters and notes she'd left behind. A part of her that he could hold onto, when there was nothing else left but other people's stories. She'd been a doodler, and had inked some truly crude cartoons in the margins. He smirked at one that seemed to involve Albus Dumbledore and a goat, and another that had to be Flitwick not being allowed onto a Ferris Wheel at Wizarding Disneyworld because he was too short to ride the ride.
She'd inscribed Douglas Whittleby's name on several of the pages, sometimes surrounded by a heart, sometimes crossed out. He made a note to look into the name and see what the story was there, and then he placed the book beside him and reached in for the next one.
He spent an hour or so mentally cataloguing her books, all in rough but usable shape. He couldn't bring them to the Muggle bookseller that signed his paycheque, obviously, but he wondered if his Nana would very much mind them being rescued from obscurity in a box and placed on his own shelves. If he transfigured a new shelf above his headboard and maybe moved the Muggle astronomy section over to one of the window-side bookcases...
He moved on to the next box, but it was only old dress robes. He waded through the piles, deeper into the attic. He'd never played this far toward the back wall as a child, and he didn't know what he would find in these boxes. They were unmarked, and some of them tingled with magic.
Well, his grandmother was a Black, when all was said and done, and he knew better (from experience) than to touch any of her enchanted things without express permission. He'd already spent one weekend in St. Mungo's having five Venus Flytraps removed from various places from whence they'd sprouted out of his body. If he didn't have the ability to change his appearance, he'd still have a scar directly between his eyebrows.
In the corner lay a heap of rolled up parchments, some small and some quite large. He gazed at them hungrily, and without thinking he unfurled the nearest. A map of some sort-- a Muggle subway system, perhaps? Or--
He blinked. The vaults of Gringotts. He was sure of it. These were train tracks, certainly, and he didn't think the tube system was numbered like this, or went down so deep into the earth. Had his Nana been planning a heist of some sort? He wouldn't put it past her, at least in her younger days. He opened the next parchment and found another set of plans, this one outlining a forest somewhere. He felt a shiver of awareness traverse his spine. These were Order documents, he was sure of it. He'd thought they had all been secreted away, into some museum or department at the Ministry.
He lifted a third parchment up, and saw that the whole pile had been stacked not against the wall but against a column of books. Behind the parchments lay a stack of heavy leather-bound journals. He itched to grab them and run, claiming them for his own. Instead, he sat down on the floor and plucked the first one off the top.
Order plans. Minutes of meetings. Copies of correspondence An aborted attack on Malfoy Manor in 1995. Vitriol about the traitor Severus Snape. Musings about Dumbledore's will, and whether his portrait might provide any clues to the fate of the Order.... Teddy didn't immediately know whose hand had written these journals, but the script looked familiar. Old Blott, Junior would pay a fortune to display these in his shop. Even a conservative appraisal would put this volume alone at hundreds if not thousands of galleons.
He flipped through the entire tome, nearly photographic memory copying every word he read into his brain. This was a book of war, a first-hand account of the desperate days before the final fall of Voldemort. Forgoing the need to explore the rest of the attic, he swished his wand at the journals, levitated the whole stack, and directed them back down the stairs. He had all weekend before Nana returned from her conference. He wanted to read these at his leisure. And he wanted a veal sandwich.
Teddy had tried the vegetarian thing for a while, around the same time he'd started adding just the smallest hint of eyeliner to his lower lids. He wasn't sure whether his Nana hated the makeup or the new eating habits more. The eyeliner had gone by the wayside. So had the vegetarianism. He blamed the werewolf genes for making him love red meat-- not that he changed into a wolf or even got grouchier than usual around a full moon or anything remotely cool. He'd lasted seven months and three days on a diet of lentils, vegetables, fruits, and grains before succumbing to a barely-cooked roast beef his Nana had placed in front of him. Formidable woman that she was, she nearly always got what she wanted. It surprised him a little, though. He'd have thought that she would like him getting away from an obviously Remus trait. She was never subtle about her dislike for Teddy's father, or her disappointment that her only baby girl had run off with an out of work half-human when she could have had the likes of Bill or Charlie Weasley.
That put him into weird territory, he thought as he munched his thick, juicy sandwich. If his mum hadn't married his dad, there would be no Teddy (though he'd done the math, and he knew that they must have been married so soon after their courtship began because she'd already been pregnant). And if his mum had instead married Bill Weasley, there would be no Victoire, or else it made him hypothetically, metaphysically related to her, or something, and you didn't want to be related to your girlfriend.
And she was his girlfriend, even if she didn't bloody well act like it at times. Or ever. Except she was incredible in bed (he'd had sex with two women and one other bloke, so he knew what he was talking about), and she was gorgeous and she knew it. Uncle Harry had commented more than once that she was exactly what you would expect from two parents who were both good looking and both damned proud of it.
He turned the page of the third volume. It had taken him half of the first journal to figure out that these had been kept by Molly Weasley-- he could tell by the affection bestowed on any Weasley appearing in the narrative, by the ire shown toward Sirius Black, and from the fact that he'd seen her handwriting on twenty years of Christmas jumpers and birthday cards.
It was difficult to divine Molly's attitude toward Remus in the journals, though it was clear she'd liked Tonks. Tonks' ideas and reports were documented with care, and more than once a side comment had appeared regarding how very well Tonks got on with Bill Weasley.
Remus, though, appeared at first mostly in commentary about how Sirius needed to be restrained and talked out of fights in the middle of meetings, and the fact that he lived at 12 Grimmauld Place and so usually could be found there, even when no one else was around. Teddy ground his teeth in frustration. Apart from Uncle Harry's stories of the year that Remus had taught Defense and shown him how to drive away a Dementor, he knew achingly little about his father. No one had pictures. No one could tell him anything as basic as what the man's favourite colour might have been, or if he'd had a dog growing up. Remus' family, apart from Teddy himself, were all dead, and so were his friends. What knowledge there was of him existed in that vacuum reserved for legends about heroes. Exaggerated, vague, and not even a little bit edifying.
At least the minutes of meetings gave him a little bit of his father's dialogue. He didn't know what Remus' voice might sound like, but he could see that Remus spoke most to Severus Snape before the supposed betrayal, to Bill Weasley, to Sirius Black, and to Albus Dumbledore before either of their deaths. Oddly, he almost never interacted with Tonks in these pages until the wedding was alluded to in volume 4. But Bill... Bill was the only person left alive whom Remus seemed to have had any rapport with at all.
With an absent but powerful Accio incantation, Teddy summoned parchment and ink to him, and retrieved a bit of quill nib from his back pocket. He wasn't sure where exactly Bill was these days-- somewhere in Australia, he seemed to remember Victoire mentioning, supervising a treasure-hunting expedition for Gringotts. His owl, Burroughs, was a resourceful creature though, and he had every trust that his message would reach its intended recipient.
While cleaning up for my grandmother, I came across some evidence that suggests you were mates with my dad. Please let me know if that's the case. I don't know much about him, but maybe you do. Would like a chance to talk to you about it.
Teddy Remus Lupin
"Theodore Lupin, you will not walk away from me while I'm talking to you!"
Teddy growled under his breath as he stomped down the stairs-- well, stomped as best he could, consider the stairs were made of dense, hard concrete and didn't reverberate well. "I don't want to have this conversation yet again!"
"Well, you're going to have it!" Nana hollered down into the cellar. "No grandson of mine is going to waste his potential in some ridiculous Muggle hole in the wall when--"
"I'm not answering!"
"--he got he most NEWTs of his entire seventh year class!"
"Can't hear you, Nana, in the cellar!"
"And when his mother was so bright!"
With a flick of his wand, Teddy slammed the cellar door and cut off any of his grandmother's further shouts. After a moment or two of silence, it became apparent that she'd either taken the hint or assumed he'd Disapparated. Shaking his head, he slumped into a dank, cobwebby corner, glowering at a small spider who was somehow hardy enough to survive down here. He was so sick of this same old conversation. He wasn't living up to his name, he was disgracing his mother's memory, he could have a brilliant career at the Ministry, and on and on it went. It wasn't Teddy's bloody fault that he'd done so blindingly well on his NEWTs. He was just a good test-taker. It came naturally to him, as naturally as his love of musty old books.
And speaking of which, as his eyes adjusted to the almost total darkness, he realised he was sitting next to a pile of them. He cast a Lumos spell and peered around. The cellar was in even worse shape than the attic had been. Who'd have ever guessed that Andromeda Tonks was such a pack rat?
He held his wand up to the pile of boxes that he was inadvertently leaning against. Each had a label scribbled across it in ink: "Old dishes," "Nymphadora's baby clothes," "The end." Teddy arched a brow at that-- what of his mother's would be in a box with such a label?
Pushing himself to his feet, Teddy ripped the twine off the box and flipped it open. Inside were stacks of parchment, some covered with writing, some blank. This box was a veritable treasure trove, everything that his grandmother hadn't wanted him to see, or maybe hadn't wanted to look at herself. His mother's diaries, sealed Order parchments, notes from friends, notes from Remus. These he stuffed into the pockets of his robe for later, for leisurely reading. He didn't want his Nana to remember what was down here and confiscate it before he could return.
Underneath all of that... Teddy sucked in a breath. Remus' personal effects. He'd always wondered where his father's things had gone, had always assumed that most of what had been in their little cottage had been destroyed in the war or looted in its aftermath. Indeed, there was pitifully little here. A framed picture of Sirius Black, who had been his uncle, grinned rakishly at Remus. Several shabby old Muggle novels reposed therein-- Teddy blinked in surprise to see that his father had not only been a reader of Muggle fiction, but had apparently liked some of the same authors that Teddy did. Allen Ginsberg, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlotte Bronte. The last one especially surprised him.
And at the very bottom, another stack of correspondence, letters to Remus. Some were Tonks' handwriting, but most were in other hands. These, too, Teddy pocketed. He replaced the box, used a spell to redistribute the dust over it so it looked untouched, and Disapparated from the cellar. He reappeared behind the bookshop he worked at, and made his way in through the back door.
The old Muggle who ran the store, Mrs Jenkins, didn't look up as Teddy entered, and Teddy didn't acknowledge her either. They got along well because neither of them bothered the other and both loved the books to which they tended. Mrs Jenkins was used to Teddy coming and going even when he wasn't scheduled to work. The store was simply too good a place to get away from his Nana, his relations, and the various and sundry witches and wizards who called him friend because of his heritage and parentage.
He ascended the rickety metal spiral staircase at the back of the store that brought him up to the second level, a mezzanine-style half-floor that overhung the rest of the shop. Curling up in one of the slightly mouldy, overstuffed beanbag chairs in the Manga section, he slid his glasses on. Shuffling through the yellowed parchment, he ran his gaze over the signatures in the stack of letters to his dad. Most were from Sirius or Tonks, a few from Snape-- he set those aside to discuss with Harry-- and a couple from Harry himself. Several were signed only with initials. He assumed KS was Kingsley Shacklebolt and MM was Minerva McGonagall, though he wasn't sure about WA or LJ.
The letters for his dad ranged from dead boring to... well, interesting to say the least. The notes from Sirius Black were mostly word play and thinly veiled innuendo, reminiscences of old times and bitterness about Sirius' current situation. They revealed much about Sirius' state of mind but little about Remus', and Teddy set them aside.
Correspondence from McGonagall, Dumbledore, and Snape were all pure Order business, and the first few from the mysterious WA were as well. But as Teddy read on, he began to detect a note of friendship, or at least of amiability between the writer and his father.
The Big Cat has called off the Lightning Strike. Return to base at once.
Do you require back-up tomorrow at GB?
Thank you for your counsel on the FG matter. It's cleared up now, and everything is moving forward as planned.
No, really, the matter is resolved. As my mother suggested, it's just about putting it out of my mind and concentrating on what's ahead of me. Plans haven't changed, and my convalescence is nearly complete.
Meet me at the LC tomorrow, midnight. I can't stand this, I want to tear my skin off. Fleur doesn't understand-- how can she? I need your help after all.
Fleur? Teddy froze. WA. William Arthur Weasley. "Well fuck me," me murmured. His hunch about Bill and his dad had been right after all. But almost a month had gone by and he'd heard nothing from the man.
Waving away a dust bunny that rolled tumbleweed-like from under the nearest bookcase, he devoured the rest of the Bill letters.
I don't know how I'd have got through that without you. "Just a craving for raw steak" my left arse cheek. Are you sure about that ointment? I've got enough scars as it is.
I heard the news-- congratulations, and fuck anyone who has a problem with you and Tonks. I love you both, you know that, and you deserve each other. Make her happy, and tell her she has me to answer to if she doesn't make you happy too.
I'm sorry. Fuck, I don't know what came over me. I'm really, really sorry. I don't know what to say-- is it the moon? Please don't tell anyone. God, what can I do to make it right?
And there the letters ended. Teddy ran the tip of his index finger over the twenty-year-old ink. The twenty-year-old anguish. What on earth had happened there, and why didn't any more letters come?
Well, one more letter would be sent on the matter. Teddy had to know what had happened. He would send his owl to Bill come nightfall, once he was sure his grandmother was in bed.
"Bonjour, ma petit chou."
Sitting at Uncle Harry's kitchen table, Teddy was utterly unprepared for the voice of his sort-of-but-not-really-related-through-m
Since Victoire had turned down his housesitting invitation two months ago, they'd been on again and off again twice, and apparently now she wanted to be on again. "How'd you find me?" Teddy asked, grateful that his uncle was too obtuse, too solidarity-minded, or maybe just too nosy to get up and grant them a bit of privacy.
"Your grandmere," Victoire said, and somehow managed to shake her sheet of hair becomingly, even with her head in the middle of a fireplace. "She said that if you were not at home, you would be at work or lolligagging about with votre oncle."
That was one thing Teddy hated about Vicky, that liberal salting of her very proper English with French words-- he hated it except when he liked it, which was when she was very close to him and he could smell that cinnamon/floral something about her and then he thought it was sexy as all fuck. Otherwise, she sounded like a Muggle character he'd come across in the used VHS bin at work. Of course, if he told her that her linguistic quirks reminded him of a puppet named "Miss Piggy," he'd never have sex again.
"Sod off," he said, crossing his wiry arms across his Shags-t-shirt-clad chest.
She clucked her tongue, fiery eyes sparking with their own inner light. "Now, now, mon cher, do not be an asshole. I thought you might want to take me to lunch."
"Why, is Gentry Harkiss sick with the Fool's Flu?"
"Be nice, Teddy."
"Maybe Blythe Shacklebolt's busy today, what with his head being shoved up his own arse?"
Harry snorted at that, but remained silent. Vicky, on the other hand, glared at him imperiously. "Blythe is a good friend, and far more a gentleman than you are, Theodore Lupin."
"I thought you liked that I'm not a gentleman," he shot back viciously.
She opened her mouth to snap at him but paused, tilting her head as if listening to something off to the side. She rolled her perfect blue eyes and said, "Mama wants you to come to lunch here instead. Both of you."
Teddy's gaze flickered toward his uncle, who was staring longingly at the Saturday morning fry-up they had made for themselves. He ran a hand through his hair-- dark green today, and spiked into a miniature mohawk. "We're busy, thanks. Aunt Gin's out of town on business and Harry's got all of the sprogs off to school and Saturday breakfast to himself. We've got bangers, we've got mash, and we've got Ogden's Old. What we don't need is you."
Which wasn't entirely true because she was pouting, damn her, and she knew what that did to him. "Drinking at eleven thirty in the morning? Mais non, you will come here at once." Seconds later, a very similar face appeared beside Victoire's, and Fleur Delacoeur-Weasley chimed in.
"Mais non!" she repeated. "You must come to lunch, both of you. Our Bill is home and we wish to celebrate. You will come, oui?"
Harry got to his feet and let his back crack twice. "I suppose," he said, but Teddy knew from the grin on his face that Harry wanted to see Bill. Teddy was a different matter. He hadn't known that Bill was back, and he hadn't asked anyone else about the journals he'd found-- he hadn't breathed a word about them yet. He'd sent Bill two owls, and Bill hadn't bothered to owl him back or even try to contact him. He was hacked off at the older man, but he was also still curious. Might as well go straight to the hippogriff's mouth and find out for himself what kind of relationship Bill had had with Remus Lupin.
"Yeah, I s'pose we'll go," he muttered, glaring at the women in the flames. "Shove over, Vick, we'll come through."
With a bit of Floo Powder and a quick, awful spinning sensation, Teddy found himself sooty and irritable in the Delacoeur-Weasley sitting room. Harry appeared on his heels, nearly falling over as he stumbled out of the fireplace. Fleur caught him and slipped her arm gaily through his.
"Our Harry does not visit nearly enough, does he?" she sing-songed.
"He does not," Victoire chirped, ignoring Teddy entirely in favour of taking Harry's other arm. Teddy rolled his eyes. If she wasn't so animalistically good between the sheets....
A man stepped through the doorway and interrupted his thoughts, scarred face stretched into a smile. Bill Weasley, father of the most infuriating woman on earth, was back from Tasmania. His hair, lighter than Aunt Gin's from all the time spent under the bleaching sun, was pulled back into a ponytail that was cut off at the shoulder. His skin was tanned, so much so that his freckles were barely visible. Vicky had inherited her mother's complexion, though her hair was a very light strawberry blonde, rather than blondish silver. She hadn't a freckle to her name, though Teddy strongly suspected that she used makeup to cover the dusting of freckles he remembered her having when they were teenagers at Hogwarts. Bill, though, was another matter.
"Harry," Bill said, apparently also choosing to ignore Teddy. The younger man glowered. Typical. Just because you were twenty and you hadn't lived through a bleeding war and didn't have people lining up to kiss your ass, no one even thought to say hello. He glared at the marred face before him. Who cared if Bill had been friends with Remus Lupin? Teddy just wanted to go back to his own room and read.
"And Teddy," Bill said with a light smile, after he'd prised Harry away from the female cohort of his family and given him a bear hug. "Still dating my daughter, I see?"
"Depends on her mood," Teddy said with a shrug. Not even a word about the letter? Stupid Bill.
Bill nodded thoughtfully. "Yes, that's about right for a Delacoeur woman."
"Papa," Victoire giggled, smacking her father's biceps. "You are awful."
"And wise," Fleur added. "Come in, all you men. Come and have lunch with us, and we may hear tales of Bill's time in Australia."
Fleur wouldn't think of allowing Harry or Teddy to help with lunch, which was just as well because Teddy wasn't offering. Instead, he chose a seat in the corner and slumped down, glaring at pretty much everyone. Well, everyone who wasn't Harry. Harry rarely pissed Teddy off, though the way he was trailing almost puppy-like after Bill was just a little sickening. Had his uncle not totally wasted Voldemort? That seemed like a bigger deal to Teddy than telling a couple of goblins where to stick their shovels.
Now that he was here, Victoire was pretending that he wasn't, also fawning over her father. Bill, meanwhile, was moving with a slight limp through the kitchen, helping his ex-wife in spite of her protests that he should sit and rest his knee.
"Can I ask you something?" Teddy said, watching the older man's lopsided shuffle.
Bill paused, a plate of ham balanced in one hand, his wand in the other directing a bread knife to chop up a rustic, thick loaf. "Fire away."
It was Teddy's turn to pause, noticing that not only had Bill stopped and focused his attention on Teddy, but so had everyone else. Teddy flushed under the scrutiny of the Delacoeur women, unsure how to ask about his father in front of everyone. Tongue-twisted, he muttered, "What happened to your knee?"
Bill smiled at Teddy again, that light, non-committal smile. "Manticore."
Teddy suppressed a real flare of interest and said, sounding bored, "Oh, one of those."
"Yep. One of those." Bill started up the break knife again. "You want to hear the story?"
"No," Teddy said, but the chorus of yeses from everyone else in the kitchen drowned him out. He sat in sullen silence for the rest of the prep time, ignoring the great heroics of Bill the Treasure-Finder (big deal that the said manticore had been guarding a horde of sapphires in the Sahara, and anyway, anyone could have survived a horn through the thigh in Teddy's opinion), Bill the Bounty Hunter (how on earth was Harry Potter impressed by the tales of Bill tracking a renegade Death Eater wannabe through a live volcano?), and Bill the Ladies' Man (which Teddy thought was in particularly poor taste, considering that the man's ex-wife and daughter were in the bloody room). It wasn't until everyone was seated and generous portions of French-English hybrid dishes were being passed along that Bill looked at Teddy directly. "Are you working, Teddy?"
The question caught him off-guard after the barrage of Bill-centric stories. "Excuse me?"
"Working. You know, earning a living, making enough sickles to treat my daughter as she should be treated?" Bill's eyes were twinkling, but Teddy was in no mood for noticing such things.
"I'm saving up for my own place, if that's what you're driving at," he snapped, biting viciously into a bit of baguette. He swallowed and said, "And I've got a fine job, thanks." His glare was so ferocious that Fleur and Victoire exchanged bewildered glances.
Bill shrugged. "Just curious. Harry, how's the Auror business treating you? Ron sent me a picture of that Theo Nott's jinx victims-- yikes."
Teddy bolted after the meal, disgusted by the way everyone fell all over Bill, and by Bill's overly paternalistic attitude-- who the hell was Bill Weasley to act like Victoire's guardian when he didn't even live in England anymore? And further, who did the man think he was, not addressing Teddy's owls even once?
Irritated by life in general and Bill in particular, Teddy decided to seek out the solace and solitude of his bookstore, a shabby Muggle affair that resided to the left of the Leaky Cauldron-- or, to Muggle eyes, directly beside a used record store. He didn't have a shift today but he often stayed at the store anyway, helping out or burrowing into a corner and reading for uncounted hours. He slipped into the gardens behind Shell Cottage, intending to Apparate to the Leaky Cauldron.
Fleur had gorgeous gardens, Teddy had to admit. And he didn't just think so because he'd shagged Vicky against at least three of the large trees growing here, and behind that rose bush. He still had a scar on his arse where he'd rolled into some nasty thorns.
He could hear the women's voices weaving gaily together, and he frowned. Stupid part-Veela women thought they were so bloody fantastic. He didn't know how Bill put up with their shit for so long, but it didn't surprise him that he'd finally relocated to a different continent permanently. He didn't know if Bill had moved because of the divorce or divorced because of the move.
He stalked further into the labyrinthine gardens. He just needed a good spot to Disapparate, and then he could forget this stupid idea that Bill might know something interesting about Remus Lupin. The guy's head was shoved so far up his ass, and the asses of his adulating fanbase, that he probably through the sun shone out of his own rectum.
His dark thoughts were were interrupted by a shadow falling across his path. He frowned up into the shadow's source.
"I take it you and my daughter are off again?" Bill asked, lips twitching into a half-smile. The scars on his face, older than Teddy was, were a mottled, muted pink. No longer angry like they must have been two decades ago, they seemed an almost natural part of his features now. They blended with his skin, scything one eyebrow in two, trailing across his nose and left cheek, tugging the corner of his mouth upward at all times.
"What makes you say that?" Teddy muttered, glaring defiantly at the older man.
"It's been awhile since I saw you last. You seem surlier than I remember you."
Teddy didn't expend the energy to roll his eyes. "Have you ever read Muggle comic books?" he asked, ignoring the query entirely.
Bill leaned easily against a tree, brushing a low branch aside. "A few," he said.
"There's one I like-- we sell a lot of them at my shop." Teddy traced the patterns of bark absently. "The hero is pretty dark. He's cool because he uses all of his money and a ton of ingenuity to create gadgets that do all the things Wizards can do with magic."
"I think I know which one you mean."
"Well, one of the villains is called Two-Face."
Bill's marred face twisted into a scowl. "I have the feeling I'm about to be insulted in my own former home."
I was going to say your scars are cooler than his, but whatever."
Bill snorted and touched his ruined cheek. "They're almost legend now, aren't they. I don't think your generation even know how I got them."
"A duel, we know." Teddy shrugged. "It's more that no one really cares anymore."
"I don't care."
Bill tumbled carelessly into the grass, leaning back on his elbows. "I'm glad you don't let Victoire push you around too much."
Teddy snorted at that. "Oh, she pushes. I just push back now and then."
"I suppose so."
"Look," Teddy said, tired of this witless small talk. He carefully found his wand under his robes. "Nice chat and all, but I must dash. If you can think of anything worth talking about, you know where to find me."
Before Bill could answer, Teddy Disapparated faster than he'd ever done in his life. He had some satisfaction in the startled expression on the older man's face before he disappeared.
You're an arrogant arse-wipe. I just wanted to be sure you knew that.
Dinner at Aunt Gin and Uncle Harry's the next night promised to be a quiet affair, at least. Of all of his family, Teddy liked them best, and he liked that their house was quiet, without a thousand other friends and relatives underfoot. And his grandmother had never particularly warmed to Harry, which meant that she wouldn't be accompanying Teddy to dinner.
He was still prickling with anger at Bill's total snub, and his hair was a bright cerise to match his temper. No matter what had happened between his father and Bill, it was no excuse not to say anything at all. Even a "None of your business, kid," would have been better than silence.
He knocked on his aunt and uncle's door, wondering what restaurant Sunday dinner had been ordered from. Rebelling against their own childhoods, for different reasons, neither of the Potters went near their kitchen, if they could help it.
After a few moments, the door swung open to reveal a beaming Aunt Ginny. "Teddy! We were just talking about you."
"Oh?" Teddy slouched out of the darkness and into the house. He could hear his uncle chatting up a storm with someone in the parlour, and he felt a dragon's egg start sinking in his stomach.
"Yes, Harry's brought Bill by for a visit! I didn't even know he was back in England." Ginny looped an arm through Teddy's and dragged him down the hall. They entered the parlour and Ginny marched right in, though Teddy lingered in the doorway.
"You ran off rather suddenly yesterday," Harry said. "Everything all right, or are you and Victoire at it again?"
Bill cleared his throat. "I'm afraid it's my fault, Harry. I asked Teddy to go fetch something from Andromeda for me. Is your grandmother well, Teddy?"
"She is. She thinks I should keep my hair shorter and get a real job." Teddy scrutinized the older man. Why was Bill covering for him?
"I know what that's like," Bill said.
Teddy shrugged. "If she didn't complain, then I'd know something was wrong. Aunt Gin, do you mind if I just run to the loo?"
She nodded assent, but her attention was already absorbed by her older brother-- and Teddy could hex himself for not realising that Bill would come by to see his baby sister. All he'd wanted was a quiet evening. Instead, The Great and Daring Bill Weasley Who Couldn't Be Bothered to Answer His Mail was here.
Turning into the spare bedroom next to the loo, Teddy collapsed on the bed, back to the door. He had only a few moments to himself before a voice interrupted his seething thoughts.
"Why did you run off yesterday?" Bill Weasley asked. Teddy didn't look up. Instead, he concentrated on resettling his features, letting his hair darken until it was so black it was reflective. He blended his eyes to match. The black/black combination unsettled people. He'd picked it up from a the portrait of Severus Snape in the headmaster's office at Hogwarts.
"I had things to do, and clearly you're too busy and important to spare me even a word."
"I? I'm not the one who sends inquiries he clearly cares nothing about. You're just like your father. He never answered important letters either."
"I sent you two different owls," Teddy fumed, "and you answered neither of them."
Bill shook his head. "You sent one and I sent you four replies."
At that, Teddy rolled up into a sitting position and gave Bill a considering look.
Bill flinched. "What did you...?"
"I heard what you said. Why did you do that to your face?"
Teddy fought the urge to stick his tongue out at the infuriating older man. "What do you mean?"
"You look nothing like you did ten minutes ago." Bill took a step into the room, reaching out as if to touch Teddy's face from five feet away. "I know you're a metamorphmagus like your mum was. Are you doing that deliberately?"
"Obviously. You like?" he asked sarcastically, fighting not to smirk in triumph.
"Your mum used to change her hair all the time," Bill not-quite-answered, crossing the floor and gestured at the bed. "It made your dad smile. May I?" He sat down next to Teddy without waiting for a reply. "I wrote you four owls, asking you why you thought I knew your dad, what evidence you'd found. I didn't hear back from you."
"I never received those letters," Teddy began, and then he froze. Of course. "Nana."
"What about her?"
Teddy cursed under his breath. "She's a Black, that's what about her. She's a Black, and she's never wanted me to know about my father."
"She's been intercepting your mail?" Bill asked, frowning. His scars forced his mouth into a deeper grimace.
"Wouldn't be the first time," Teddy said, remembering the confiscated letters from Jake Thomas two years ago-- because members of the Black family didn't write letters like that to members of their own gender, no matter what had gone on in the prefects' lavatory. "So you got my original letter, huh?"
Bill was studying him intently, worrying his lower lip between his teeth. "Yeah, I did. What do you know about your dad?"
Teddy rummaged in one of his deep robe pockets and handed over a couple of the old letters. "Not much: werewolf, Marauder, teacher for one year, big war hero, my grandmother hated him, he died. Every one of his friends are dead too, except you. If you were his friend."
"I don't know if you could call us friends." Bill lounged backward on his elbows, the way he'd done in the grass yesterday. "Your dad was pretty preoccupied with this issue and that. He was hard to get close to."
"But you were close to him?" Teddy leaned forward, trying to contain his boyish excitement. "What did you know about him? What was he like? Did you have a falling out?"
Bill took a breath, but was interrupted by footsteps. He jumped to his feet, looking almost guilty as Ginny appeared in the doorway.
"There you two are. We were wondering what happened to you." She gave Bill a stern stare, reminiscent of Molly Weasley. "You're not antagonizing the poor boy, are you, William? It's not his fault your daughter is a handful."
"She'd better not be his handful," Bill said, tone light but mocking.
"I've got to go," Teddy said, gathering the parchment off the bed and stuffing it into his robe. "Really not feeling well, but thanks, Aunt Gin. I'll see you next Sunday dinner, yeah?"
"All right," she said, frowning at them both. "Next Sunday it is."
An owl was waiting on his bedroom window, looking most impatient. He opened the pane and creature held out its leg daintily. It was a smallish brown bird, and as soon as the missive was off its leg, it made the most peculiar barking sound and flew out the window.
Teddy held his breath, waiting to see if his Nana had heard the commotion, but he suspected she was long since asleep. Formidable she may be, but she was also pushing seventy and a heavy sleeper. When no inquiring old woman appeared at his door, Teddy smoothed open the parchment, recognizing Bill's handwriting from the older letters to Remus.
Thank you for asking me for careers advice. I think it's admirable that you finally want to take a step into a proper Wizarding vocation, and I'd be delighted to let you in on the answers to some of the questions you posed to me tonight. Why don't you meet me in at the Leaky Cauldron tomorrow at 11 a.m.?
Teddy grinned in spite of himself. Even if his grandmother had intercepted this, she could hardly complain about its contents. He resolved to leave it lying on the kitchen table tomorrow morning before he left for work.
The next day, he took his lunch break early and slipped next door into the hidden pub. The Leaky Cauldron was nothing like it had been in decades before. Seamus Finnigan had bought the place ten years after the war and, as Harry liked to say, classed it up. Solid oak, self-cleaning tables ran the length of the hardwood floors, enchanted never to become sticky no matter how much beer was spilled on them. Wall sconces every few feet kept the place bright and cheerful, and the fully stocked bar supplied every drink one could think of, not just the same Ogden's Old. Apart from the sometimes-raucous karaoke parties the pub held sometimes, it was a respectable place to dine or do business.
Bill Weasley was already sprawled in a chair by one of the big, cozy fireplaces, unlit because it was still fairly warm for autumn. He was chatting with a laughing, middle-aged man sporting dark dreadlocks, who Teddy vaguely recognized as Lee Jordan. Lee nodded his good-bye as Teddy walked forward.
"Careers advice, huh?" he asked, taking the seat across from Bill.
"You're a lost boy, in need of answers," Bill said philosophically. "Who better than the manticore-killer to give you those answers." He glanced at Teddy's features, but didn't comment on them. Teddy had gone for a David Bowie-influenced look, right down to the mismatched pupils.
"Answer me this," Teddy returned. "Who was my father, and how well did you know him?"
"Right to the point. I like it. That's more your mum than your dad," Bill said. "I knew them both fairly well, and I was pretty ecstatic when they got married. Your dad had some doubts-- that's probably not something I should tell you, though."
"Well, it was more prompted by you than by anything else." Bill's lips twitched into a sarcastic smile.
"Yeah, I've done the math on that one," Teddy said. "But come on, whose parents didn't get married because of pregnancy in those generations? What was my dad like?"
"Don't you know?"
Two glasses of water shimmered into being on the small end table between them, followed by a house elf dressed in a black-and-white waiter's uniform. Teddy thought the little creature looked like a penguin.
"Good afternoon, sirs. I is Schmoopsie, and I will be serving sirs today. May I take sirs' orders?" The elf had a quill and parchment poised in his hand.
"Come back in ten minutes, will you?" Bill said, not taking his eyes off Teddy. The house elf bowed low and disappeared with a loud POP.
Teddy tossed the letters he'd found in the cellar onto the table. "Clearly you're WA. Were you friends before these? What happened in them?"
Bill stared at the parchment. "My God, I'd have thought these long destroyed." He was silent for a lingering moment. "Yeah, we were mates. Your dad mostly only had time for Sirius, when I first got to know him. But he was a decent bloke. Took his tea black, liked to read with almost no light-- probably enhanced eyesight from the lycanthropy. Do you--?"
"I see pretty well in the dark, but I need glasses to read," Teddy said. "I don't think I inherited any major werewolf traits, if that's what you're asking."
"I was curious," Bill admitted. "I wondered what sorts of traits Victoire would inherit, too."
"She's pretty Veela," Teddy said. "And she knows it. Is that all you can say about my dad?"
"I don't know what you want to know."
"I don't know anything!" Teddy shouted, rising to his feet. "Do you know what that's like, not knowing a thing about your own father? You know everything about your dad! You know what his laugh sounds like and that he likes to take televisions apart in your tool shed! You know the way he looks at your mum, and the way he carried you on his shoulders when you were small! I don't even know how tall my dad was, let alone how he liked to spend his evenings or how he felt about politics or my mum or anything!"
Lee and Seamus, at the bar, were staring at them, as were several other patrons who had filtered in for an early lunch. Bill rose slowly to his feet, took Teddy firmly by the shoulder, and steered him off to the side, where the private parlours had been refurbished. He shoved the younger man in without a word.
"Remus' voice was soft but confident," Bill said after he shut the door. "He had a way of looking at you that made you think he understood the way every cog in your head cranked. He would read for hours and hours every evening, and he liked to cook. He was the only one who could control Sirius after Sirius came back. He was passionate about werewolf rights, but he was also downtrodden, weary from a life of being told he was a second-class citizen at best and a monster at worst."
Bill hadn't let go of Teddy's shoulder, but his grip relaxed. "Your dad helped me through a time in my life so rough that not even Fleur knew what I was going through. Don't you know how I got these scars?"
Teddy shook his head. "Wizarding duel with a Death Eater the night Dumbledore snuffed it, is what they say in History of Magic. Though I could never figure out what sort of hex would leave scars like that."
Bill snorted, letting go of him. "Same old Ministry, covering up past mistakes. They don't want to admit they let a psycho like Fenrir Greyback roam free for so long, so they wrote him out of the textbooks. He was a werewolf, Teddy, the same one who turned your dad. Only unlike your dad, he lived for mayhem and for killing. He attacked me when he was in human form, and did this to me with his bare hands and blunt teeth."
The thought sickened Teddy, a sudden, vivid image of a huge, hairy man throwing Bill to the ground and raking his teeth across Bill's face. "So you got mauled by the same bloke who turned my father. That's kind of twisted. Wait, does that make you a werewolf too?" He'd never thought of that before, and tried to remember if he'd ever seen Bill on the night of a full moon. Did that make Vicky part-werewolf, like Teddy was? It would explain her monster hormonal mood swings.
"It gave me wolf-like tendencies. Like the first month, when I cut furrows in my arms with my own nails. It felt like I was trying to shed my own skin and I couldn't stop from scratching." Bill drew one sleeve up, showing faded scars all along his forearms. "It was your dad who talked me into drinking aconite tea and applying mandrake lotion. And who got me meditating. Your dad got my head screwed back on straight, and helped make sure I actually made it to the altar. I might not have married Fleur otherwise. I was too afraid of what I was becoming."
Teddy studied Bill's features. The scars, which had seemed so commonplace all his life, stood out livid against Bill's skin now, set into sharp relief by their history. He tried to think of what to ask next when a huge old grandfather clock standing in the corner tolled its stately bell.
"Bloody hell, I've got to get back to work," Teddy muttered. "Look, meet me for dinner, all right?"
Bill winced. "Thing is, I have to get back to work too. I'm leaving tonight for a dig in Nepal."
"But I need to talk to you!"
"Write me. I'll try to answer what you want to know, and I'll send my letters here for you, all right? Seamus has been good in the past about playing post office for me."
Teddy nodded, and Bill squeezed his shoulder again lightly before striding out of the room.
Onward to part two...