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Dear Teddy,

Yes, you are staying at Grimmauld Place this year, and yes, it’s fine for Jason to stay – does he want to bring his family with him? How many of them are there? It’s just him, his parents and his sister, right? Ron and Hermione might come with their kids too – quite how everyone will fit, I don’t know, but we’ll manage.

Professor Dermot simply said that you were disrupting the class and questioning his authority as a teacher. He may well have over-reacted, Teddy, but you have to be prepared about these sorts of things.

Behave yourself; don’t give Professor Dermot an excuse to have a go at you!

Love,

Harry.


“Was that from your Godfather, Teddy?” demands Mickey, as soon as I finish reading. “Have you told him about me? When can I meet him? What’s he said about me?”

“Nothing,” I reply wearily, folding up the letter and trying to ignore Jason, who has a fist stuffed in his mouth. “I haven’t told him about you.”

“Why not?” Mickey exclaims, outraged. I swear, you can actually see the angry little monster throwing a tantrum behind his eyes.

“I guess I forgot,” I shrug. I turn away before he can say anything more to me, and grab Jason by the upper arm, dragging him away from the breakfast table.

“Why did you even sit next to him?” asks Jason, chortling.

“I didn’t!” I scowl, throwing him a glare. “He came and forced his way between that third year and me. Seriously, I’m going to have a bruise the size of a Quaffle on my arm from where he gripped it.”

“Why’d he grip it?”

“Wanted to know whether that was really Harry’s owl. Anyways, where’s Alfie?”

“Oh, he got a detention at dinner last night for flicking peas at the Slytherin Prefect. You were at detention with Dermot.”

“Oh.” We climb the stairs, heading for the Common Room. I’m glad it’s the weekend. We only had three days of the school week, but I’m shattered already.

“Let’s turn all the portraits around so they face the wall,” says Jason suddenly.

“I- what? Where did that come from?”

Jason shrugs. “Impulse – come on!” With that, he sets off at a sprint down the first floor corridor, turning every portrait around and laughing his head off as he goes. I race after him, laughing my disbelief. Within a few minutes, I lose my head and help him – doing all the portraits on one side of the corridor, while he does the other.

Not only do we turn all the portraits around, but we also roll up the long rugs on the floor and hide them behind the statue of Bertha the Barmy.

Jason is elated by the whole thing, and I feel a deep sense of guilty pleasure and smugness – the sort of feeling you get when you successfully steal from the cookie jar. I have never really been “naughty” before. Maybe that’s why I’m being so rebellious now. Before, I always felt like I was a… guest, of sorts. Because I was not Harry’s or Molly Weasley’s child, I should be on my best behaviour, and Grandma… well, there’s not much in the way of pranks that I could do at Grandma’s house. It’s just me and her. And I never want to upset her by being naughty.

But now, at Hogwarts, I can do whatever I want. The teachers can’t make me feel guilty by giving me a mere detention.

Of course I’m behaving myself, Harry…

Jason and I are just rolling up another carpet when…

“Oh, guys – you started the party without me?” Jason and I turn around to see a grinning Alfie.

“Back from your detention, then?”

“No, I’m still cleaning trophies,” he replies sarcastically. “Are you two doing this with a purpose, or is it just mindless vandalism?”

“I don’t look at it as vandalism,” chirps Jason, “I look at it as creative expression.”

“Look at it how you want, but I passed Filch on my way up here; I reckon he’ll be here in about… two minutes?” Jason looks at me, an expression of terrified exhilaration on his face.

“Run!” he yells, and it’s a gleeful yell of fear. We dart down the corridor, laughing and shouting about how Filch is coming, even though there’s no way Filch could catch us with his bad leg. All I can think about is about how truly wonderful Hogwarts is.

The idea of wanting to leave, the thought of wanting to go home seems bizarre, ridiculous. Not even the stories of Hogwarts I had been told could have prepared me for this. I remember with amusement how I had unwillingly dragged myself out of bed on the first of September, how I had confided in Harry my fear of being teased and disliked.

Sure, Dermot dislikes me. Well, hates me would be a better word. But apart from him, everyone here seems to like me. There is nothing that can ruin this feeling. I am happier than I have ever been in my life.

This is what Harry must have felt after the war. This unbelievable release, this amazing feeling of freedom. No doubt he felt it on a much larger scale than I did, but for once I know where I am going to sleep next week – I don’t have to continuously ask whether I will be staying at Grimmauld Place, the Burrow or Grandma’s house. It is strange how routine can be so much more exciting and new than uncertainty.

***

A few days later, I head down to the lake. I have not been there yet, and, for once, both Jason and Alfie are in detention when I am not.

Harry doesn’t admit it, but when Ron got a bit tipsy one Christmas, he told me and Victoire about he would spend hours down there, sitting in silence, away from everyone else. Harry always said he didn’t spend hours down there, but he did like to go there because it was peaceful, and there were certain areas where he could sit and think and no one could see him.

I go, and I find a small patch of trees. I sit under them, but then stand up again because the ground is cold, hard, wet and just generally uncomfortable. So, I stand and look out at the massive black lake.

It’s all right, I suppose. Sure, it’s pretty and everything, but I can’t imagine spending hours here, because it’s a bit boring after a few moments. Then I remember that Harry said he came here to sit and think, but I’ve got nothing to think about, whereas he had too much to think about.

All I can think about is my potions essay. Then, because I am bored and I want to do something vaguely dramatic and memorable down at the lake, I open up the letter I received this morning.

Dear Teddy,

How’s Hogwarts? I can’t wait until I get to go! It sounds so exciting! Except for the Defence teacher of yours, he sounds horrible. I hope you’re having a good time. I’m getting really bored. Now that you’re gone, our den in the apple orchard at the Burrow has been taken over by some nasty Muggle boys, and I tried to get Mummy to get rid of them with magic, but she said she wasn’t allowed. Daddy says they’ll go away when they get bored of it, but I still whish you were here so that you could turn into a really big and scary teenager like you did last time!

Miss you lots and lots,

Vicky.


I smile at it, happy that she’s missing me, but annoyed that our precious den, so pain-achingly crafted out of sticks found and then dragged from the forest near the village, has been taken over by the stupid Muggle boys. I can’t wait until the Christmas holidays, when I can introduce Jason and Vicky to one another, and I can show Jason the den. Still, it’s a long way off, and I’m bored of the lake, not to mention freezing.

So, with a wet bum and an acute sense of anti-climax, I begin to plod my way back up to the castle again.

***

September passes in a haze of mischief making, detentions and several letters from Harry and Grandma, pleading me to become a geek. As the first day of October rolls around, bringing harsh winds from the North and starting to strip the trees of their gold-brown leaves, I find myself in my twenty-sixth detention with Dermot. I’m a bit annoyed that he’s here, really, because he’s been away for the past couple of days, and I didn’t think he was here today.

To be honest, he is rarely at school. When he is, he makes his presence pretty well known, but it is always a relief to see Professor Allen walk in, all fairness and grace. Sure, she can be pretty scary, but only when she has to be – only when we deserve it.

As for my detentions, I keep getting more, because I can never resist snapping at Dermot when he insults my parents. It’s annoying, because he always does it in a subtle way, so I always come across as being really cheeky for no reason. Harry and Grandma have actually stopped sending letters telling me off, because I get detentions so often.

Well, I don’t really mind. Jason and Alfie think it’s hilarious, and place bets on how long I’ll be kept. I always make up stuff about things I’ve found or seen in Dermot’s office, so there are now rumours flying around the school about how he has six bottles of whiskey in his drawer, has ladies shoes next to his slippers and has been snogging Professor Allen in the supply closet.
But that is beside the point. At the moment, I am lying on my back with a special chisel thing, chipping off bits of chewing gum from the underside of a desk. It’s disgusting – bits keep falling onto my face, and I know that Dumb Dermot could have these desks sparkling with one sweep of his wand.

Dumb Dermot himself is sitting at his desk, scratching away at some essays with a black quill. He looks like he just recovered from a bad cold – his eyes are all bloodshot and he looks uglier than usual. Maybe he’s tired from his stupid missions that he always harps on about, or maybe he’s just born ugly.

“Can I stop now?” I ask rudely, letting my arms fall heavily to my sides. I have long since given up on being polite to him.

“No,” he replies smoothly, continuing to write at the old fashioned, parchment-laden desk, his face eerily illuminated by the low light of flickering candles. The dark circles under his eyes are only exaggerated by the bad light.

I let out a huge, exaggerated sigh, raising my now aching arms, and carry on chipping away at a piece of Droobles Best Blowing gum, imagining that it is Dermot’s ugly, sickly face. After ten minutes or so, the door opens, and I look to the side to see a pair of shiny women’s shoes walk through the door.

“Hello, Adrian.” It’s Professor Allen, her voice as kind and friendly as ever.

Adrian? Ha, ha – Jason’ll be able to think up a rhyme for that…

“Ah, Professor Allen – I’m just doing a detention at the moment.” I slide out from under the desk.

“Hi, Professor!” I say cheerfully, waving from the dusty floor. I turn my hair a shocking orange in greeting. Well, why not?

She stares at me with wide, blue eyes. “Another detention, Mr Lupin?” she asks incredulously.

“Afraid so,” I reply, a grin on my face. Well, what can I say? Hanging around Alfie’s made me a bit cocky and cheeky. Plus, her expression seems to be that of a mixture of pity and exasperation, so I guess she doesn’t approve of Dermot giving me loads of detentions.

She turns back to Dumb Dermot. “Have you got any assignments coming up?”

“Yes, I’m working around Halloween, probably. There’s been trouble in Azkaban – old Death Eaters kicking up a fuss again. I’ll need to go at the end of the month to help interview a couple about a planned outbreak – they think that no one knows what they’re up to. But the Aurors are worried they might put up a bit of a fight, so I have to go along too.”

“Halloween? You’ll be missing the feast then?” Her eyes are narrow and cold all of a sudden. Her lips have turned into one thin line.

“I wouldn’t go even if I wasn’t working.” Dermot stares at her with an expression that could kill.

Blimey – the way those two are glaring at each other! I feel really uncomfortable. Professor Allen is sending such a look of hate at Dermot that I’m surprised he hasn’t burst into flames.

“Er…” I mumble, trying to break the deafening silence.

“You can go, Lupin,” snaps Dumb Dermot, still glaring at Professor Allen, who is breathing heavily through her nose all of a sudden. I can hear them begin to yell at each other as I run from the classroom, but I don’t stop to listen.

***

“Hmmm, I wonder why they don’t like each other…”

“Er… who asked you?” replies Alfie rudely. The girl stares at him. To be fair, she was listening to our conversation, and she did just interrupt, but there was really no need to snap at her like that.

“What Alfie meant to say was, who are you?” I say apologetically to her. We are in the Gryffindor Common Room, lounging about on the worn, but still very comfortable rug infront of the crackling fire. The girl is sitting on one of the scruffy chairs nearby, watching us intently.

“Edith Gunner,” she says, looking rather embarrassed. Edith has dark blonde, curly hair, which she has in two messy pigtails. Her face is rather long and broad, and the first signs of acne are steadily creeping onto her face from her jaw line. Her pale blue eyes are wide, and she has a rather large gap between her two front teeth. Despite all this, she still comes across as quite pleasant looking, if a little grumpy.

“Edith’s a grandma name,” says Alfie. I really have no idea why he’s being so rude.

“Alfie’s a granddad name,” Edith retorts, but she still looks embarrassed at being teased.

“Ignore him,” says Jason with a teasing look at Alfie. “He’s just grumpy because I wouldn’t give him any of my chocolate frog.”

“I am not!” he counters angrily, but everyone ignores him.

“What were you saying?” asks Jason pleasantly, a smirk on his face as he gives a sideways glance at Alfie.

“Well, before I was rudely interrupted,” she says with an angry look at Alfie, who splutters in protest, “I was wondering why they don’t like each other.”

“Well, it’s hard not to hate Dermot, isn’t it?” I reply. Indeed, I do not know any students who do like him. Although he picks on me most, he’s really harsh and strict to everyone else too – not even the Slytherins like him, and he’s the head of their house. I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered him the teaching position because everyone in the Hit-Wizard department was getting fed up with him. Maybe they bribed Obando.

Edith shrugs, her two dark-blonde pigtails bouncing on her shoulders. “Maybe, but why would Dermot hate Professor Allen?”

“He hates everybody,” I shrug back, as if it’s obvious. Which it is.

She considered me for a moment. “You’re probably making it up. Every time you come back from a detention, you make something up.”

“I do not!”

“Just last week you were saying that they were snogging in a broom closet.”

“It was a supply closet, actually, and maybe they’ve broken up.”

“Look, if you’re just here to argue with us, go away,” responds Alfie.

“I’m not here to argue, I’m just-”

“Go away.” Alfie says firmly.

“Leave her alone, Alfie,” reacts Jason, looking slightly alarmed at Alfie’s behaviour. “She isn’t doing anything wrong.” Alfie gapes at Jason for a few minutes, and then storms off out of the portrait hole, muttering angrily under his breath. Well it’s his own fault – he shouldn’t bicker like a silly little kid, should he?

Edith smiles smugly. “At least someone here is nice.”

“I haven’t been horrible to you!” I splutter. She shrugs again. Then she looks at me very hard, with an expression as if she’s only just noticed I’m sitting here. Or, as it turned out, who I am.

“You’re Teddy Lupin, aren’t you?”

“Yes…”

“Your father was a werewolf.” She says this as simple statement, as if remarking on the weather.

“I know he was.” She looks slightly disgusted, but also quite excited. Then she nods, gets up, and walks away.

Jason turns to me, dumbfounded. “What was that about?”

“I dunno.” Maybe it was about Harry or something, though I can’t imagine why she’d look disgusted. Maybe I was imagining it.

He seems to relay the conversation in his head. “Your dad was a werewolf? Er… are werewolves the same in the wizarding world as they are in Muggle fairy tales?”

“I dunno – what are Muggle fairy tales like?” I’ve only ever been told Beedle the Bard – Harry loves them and Grandma says that it’s a grandmother’s duty to read to their grandson before bed time, but she’s only got wizard stories.

“Well… in Muggle stories, the werewolves are always horrible monsters, that kill people and hunt down children. They’re always evil.”

I laugh. “Don’t be silly; my grandma and my godfather both say that all being a werewolf means is that you literally turn into a wolf once a month, but if you drink a special potion, you still know what you’re doing. You just go a bit furry and… four-legged. Being a werewolf isn’t bad. Werewolves aren’t evil – it’s just a… condition, I suppose. Like a disability. Everyone knows that.”

“Oh, right. Okay. Hey, will you teach me how to play that game you keep talking about? Gobstones, or whatever it is?” 


A/N   Please feed Kevin-the-review box some reviews. He needs them to fuel his cheering up of Evie, who is in the middle of exams and very sad. :(

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