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“Teddy! Hey, Teddy!” James hollered, sprinting towards him, Fred hot on his heels and Louis sauntering along far behind. “Teddy Teddy Teddy Teddy Tedd-”

As soon as James got within range, Teddy grabbed the top of James’s head in one hand and his chin in the other and shut his mouth for him.

“Mrf,” James said reproachfully, grabbed Teddy’s arm and hauled him out of the stream of people heading into the stadium.

“Quit doing that,” Teddy said, disengaging James from his arm.

“Sit with us! You sat with Al at the first one, it’s our turn!”

“I was planning to sit with Al this time as well, actually,” Teddy said. “Sorry, James.”

James looked horrorstruck, betrayed, and then despairing, in that order.

“What! Why? Traitor!”

“Well, apparently someone’s been spreading it around that Al’s the literal reincarnation of Voldemort and I thought he might need some cheering up,” Teddy explained, changing his hair to bright red for annoyance, because James was actually not that perceptive and needed obvious clues. 

“…yeah, but I apologised for that and Al’s probably over it by now,” James said. Maybe the clues needed to be more obvious. “Seriously, it was two weeks ago, why is everyone still so mad at me?” He folded his arms and sulked.

“Because everybody hates you,” Fred said.

“Fred, shut up, yeah? Come on, Teddy, Al’s boring and the Slytherins are all evil anyway, you’d have way more fun with us,” James said, grabbed Teddy’s arm again and beamed up at him.

“Al’s not boring and some of the Slytherins aren’t evil,” Teddy said. “James, you do realise that was a horrible thing to do, right?”

“It was only a joke!” James protested, flailing about protestingly as usual. “And I promised Dad I wouldn’t do anything to Al any more even though it’s all his fault and he shouldn’t keep hanging around with Malfoy anyway and he’s making us all look bad. You know Nana Molly killed Malfoy’s great-aunt, yeah? And she got an Order of Merlin First Class for it. Anyway I dunno why everyone’s still mad at me.”

Yeah, it’d be good if James could stop having a go at Al, assuming this wasn’t like all the other times James had decided he was never going to talk to Al again.

“This is about Bellatrix Lestrange, then?" Teddy scrubbed a hand through his hair and decided to go with "You shouldn’t be talking about Malfoy like that, either. He’s Al’s friend and he hasn’t done anything to you.”

“It’s still creepy,” James pointed out, with an air of finality. “His great-aunt and his grandad and his dad killed people right here, you know. McGonagall should have told them to send him to Durmstrang.”

“…You’re right, James. Grand-nephews of Bellatrix Lestrange shouldn’t be allowed at Hogwarts in case they try to eat the Muggleborns,” Teddy agreed brightly. 

James brightened up. “Exactly!”

Teddy sighed, ruffled James’s hair and turned away.

“Teddy? Where’re you going?”

“To find Al, where’d you think?” Teddy said, and flung back over his shoulder as he left “And I don’t think Prof. Longbottom appreciated you telling everybody about his parents, either!” on the basis that that might get to James where logic, common sense and thumping him in the head all failed.

On the one hand, James didn’t know about Teddy's nan’s sisters, and he wasn’t literally stupid. He was good at maths, he was near the top in the two subjects he actually made an effort in and he knew more long fancy words than a kid his age should.  On the other hand, he was really, really thick. 

…Maybe if James started to bother with actually thinking at some point then he’d improve.





“…Do you think he's mad at me?” James said.

“I’m sure he’ll get over it,” Louis reassured him.

“It’s probably a half-werewolf thing. Peculiar relatives and all that,” Fred said.

James shot him a cold look, and Louis a warning one. “No, Teddy’s dad was cool."

"Fine, sorry, very cool," Fred said.

"Anyway, Teddy’s not a half-werewolf.”

“Fine, sorry, don’t get your knickers in a twist over it,” Fred said, and yawned ostentatiously. “Can we go find somewhere to sit now?”

“A half-werewolf’d be someone who turned into half a werewolf every month,” James said. “That’d be stupid. Which half would it even be? Anyway they’d have bits falling out.”

“That would be stupid,” Louis agreed, and started steering him gently towards the stands.

“Unless it was like a minotaur!” James said suddenly.

“You’re right, it could be exactly like a minotaur,” Louis agreed, with a puzzled glance at Fred.

“You know, half-human and half-werewolf,” James explained, with a brilliant grin.

Oh. Fred and Louis, being pretty familiar with how James’s mind worked, waited expectantly for him to start composing (and acting out, and doing dramatic voices for) Harry Potter and the Half-Werewolf and the climactic battle where James’s dad beat the half-werewolf to death with a shark that was on fire. Which, true to form, he did.





Teddy shoved past the train of Durmstrang students winding into the stands and stared up at them, looking for the Slytherins. It was hard to pick them out - for starters there were only about thirty of them, and compared to the couple of thousand people packed in by now that was a very small percentage.

He guessed if he’d come down to the stands before the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang lot had shown up they’d have been easier to find, but he’d been looking for Victoire up at the castle. Not that he’d found her, obviously. That was annoying.

Slightly more annoying was that the stands were set up around the Whomping Willow. Teddy hoped Victoire knew how to deal with that, but since to the best of his knowledge there were about fifteen Whomping Willows in the entire world, the knothole had been put into this one especially for his father’s benefit and she wasn’t taking Herbology for NEWT, he wasn’t holding out much hope.

He examined the crowd again and was about to give up on finding the Slytherins at all when a huge colour-changing VICTOIRE banner caught his eye and, right above that, a fairly distinctive platinum-blond head. Hopefully Scorpius Malfoy was sitting with the other Slytherins, and hopefully his head was still attached to the rest of him, but Teddy thought those were likely enough that he could risk it.

He bounded up through the stands, treading on several dozen people (“Whoops! Sorry!”) until he got up to the Slytherins (and it was the Slytherins, thank God, not that that was a sentence he’d ever thought he’d say) and looked expectantly up and down the rows for Al.

“…Where’s Al?”

“Bugger you, not telling,” said one of the first-year girls, the tall one with the brown braids whose name Teddy couldn’t quite remember.

“Grim! Grim, look!” Rookwood said, elbowing Grimalkin in the ribs and gesturing frantically. “It’s that guy who thought he was king of us last year!”

“Head Boy, I think the term is,” Grimalkin said. “Let’s stab him!”

Rookwood went off into some sort of hysterical babbling fit like she usually did. Teddy ignored her because he’d found it was best to do that when she was in one of her stabby moods. Avery looked up long enough to check that Teddy wasn’t going to be any trouble and then went back to his book.

“Oi! Why’d you want Potter, anyway?” the unexpectedly profane first-year girl said.

“I’m his cousin? Teddy Lupin?”

“Oh! Yeah, you’re that guy!” the brown-haired girl said. “He went to the loo. He said he’d be back before the interesting stuff happens. Wish he’d come back and hold his own bloody banner, though, dunno why I’m doing it for him.” She didn’t look like she was about to drop it, though.

“We’re his friends,” the other girl, the tiny dark-haired one, reminded her conscientiously, holding her own end of the banner up nearly over her head. Teddy took it from her and settled down between her and Scorpius Malfoy, with a cheerful smile at Scorpius (which didn’t help much, because Scorpius was steadfastly gazing into the far distance in the opposite direction to Teddy. Teddy felt all sad and rejected.)

“Hey, Malfoy!”

Malfoy looked up sharply. So did the girl with the brown braids. She was scowling and looking just a wee bit murderous, but Teddy wasn’t particularly concerned about that. So he just grinned at Scorpius and said “Did you know we’re second cousins?”

Going by his expression, no, Scorpius hadn’t known that.

“Yeah, your nan Narcissa and my nan Andromeda are sisters. Small world, huh?”

Then Scorpius did something odd - before, he’d looked startled and confused, just like Teddy would if someone suddenly dropped a new cousin on him, but then his face smoothed over and went totally, icily empty. “I think you’re mistaken. My great-aunt Andromeda died of scrofungulus when she was twenty.”

….ah.  

“It’s quite a common name, so it’s an easy mistake to make,” Scorpius added, the blank face shifting to something very slightly challenging.

“Sure, no problem,” Teddy said, switching his eyes to bright blue for maximum sincerity. That wrecked Scorpius’s careful blankness entirely, which was hilarious. Hey, Scorpius was Teddy’s baby cousin (even if he didn’t know that) so Teddy was allowed to have a little fun at his expense.

“…okay, wha-?” the brown-haired girl started, looking between them, but was interrupted by the second task.

“Witches! Wizards! Visitors from abroad!” Mr Finley shouted, still very reedy despite the Sonorus charm. “Welcome to the second task of the Triwizard Tournament!”

“Sod. Tell me later, then,” the brown-haired girl said, leaning forward to watch.

And Victoire was coming out! Damn, and he’d nearly missed her. That was a shamefully cavalier way to treat the light of his life.

“As you can see, the focus of this task is Hogwarts’ famous Whomping Willow! The challenge facing our three champions is to retrieve their own token, or golden ring, from the topmost branch of the tree!”

Come to think of it, Al hadn’t got back yet. Teddy hoped he’d managed to find a seat with a decent view.

Victoire and the other two champions were spread out in a triangle around the Whomping Willow, and she’d turned to look at Finley when he started talking. She was too far away for Teddy to see her expression, though. Teddy took a look at the tree - it was very still, not even swaying in the slight breeze, and being February the branches were still pretty bare. He thought he could see something glinting right at the top.

“Champions, are you ready?”

Victoire nodded, as did the other two.

“Then let the challenge begin!” Finley said, and blew his whistle.

The  whistle must have been enchanted, because the Willow reacted with a sudden jerk of its limbs and started lashing out wildly in all directions, and Victoire had to dive to the ground and roll to avoid being pulverised. Teddy yelped, and the little dark-haired girl looked up at him concernedly.

Victoire was on her feet again immediately and casting Freezing Charms. The other two champions were doing the same, but they could only freeze one branch at a time and the Willow was much-

Anthoine Aquestre, glancing over at the Durmstrang champion as she fluidly evaded one branch before getting hammered right in the solar plexus by another one and sent flying, got knocked down himself by a bough that swept his legs out from under him. Taking advantage of the tree’s distraction, Victoire darted in towards the trunk, but the Willow wasn’t distracted for long. A branch scythed out and caught her square under the ribs, flinging her back across the grass. She hit the ground with a thud, and didn’t move.

“Vicky!” Teddy shouted, leaping to his feet. The little dark-haired girl squeaked, both hands over her mouth.

Victoire shifted, got one knee under her and climbed slowly - Teddy winced in sympathy - to her feet. Still, thank God she was standing.

“I’m sure she’ll be all right,” the little dark-haired girl whispered to him, and rather timidly offered him her hand to hold. Teddy took it and stared down at the arena. 

Stooped over, one hand on her ribs, Victoire stared at the thrashing branches and seemed to reach a decision.

"J'aimerais suggesté une alliance avant qu'ont se fait tous les deux cogner à tête!" she hollered across to Anthoine, who had fallen back to plan his next move. He started and looked sharply across at her.

“What did she say?” Teddy asked. Sure, it sounded lovely when Vicky spoke French, but it also sounded like ‘le blah blah blah.’

One of the Slytherin girls, probably a third-year, scrunched her face up and said “‘I’d like to suggest an alliance before…before we both…”

“‘Before we both get our heads stoved in’, I think,” Avery said, not looking up from his book.

“…seriously, how have you not murdered him yet?” Teddy asked, watching Victoire. She and Anthoince were huddled together, conferring hurriedly, just out of range of the Whomping Willow. The Willow had switched all its attention to the Durmstrang champion, who honestly didn’t seem very pleased about that.

“Hurry up! Talking’s not going to get anyone killed!” Rookwood yelled, waving her arms as if that would make the champions hear her better.

It might have worked, because that was when Victoire split off from the Beauxbatons champion and dashed towards the Whomping Willow.

“What’s she doing?” Teddy demanded, as Victoire blasted one of the branches with red light. Hang on. Wasn’t that a Stunning Spell? What on earth was she thinking? That’d only annoy it-

The Willow brought one branch crashing down towards Victoire.

Pétrifie!”

Victoire was already diving aside, but the branch stopped a foot from where her head had been anyway.

“It looks like the Beauxbatons champion and the Hogwarts champion have joined forces!” Finley said. Yes, Teddy could see that himself, but thanks anyway.

Victoire scrambled to her feet as Anthoine dashed to her side and blasted another branch with a Stunner and the Willow tried to whomp him.

Deriguo!”

That branch stopped dead a few feet from Anthoine, slanted at a crazy angle across the last one.

At first Teddy didn’t have a clue what they were doing, but gradually something started to take shape - something sort of like a tangle of branches layered over each other, which suddenly looked much more like a ladder when Victoire and Anthoine started to climb up it.

Now Victoire and Anthoine were past halfway up the tree, and the whole Willow was stooping over them like it was being blown in a high wind. Teddy was watching Victoire intently, but a sudden motion caught his eye - the Durmstrang champion had been hanging back, watching the other two, but suddenly she’d pressed her wand against the palms of her hands and cast a spell. Had she just been biding her time? As Teddy watched and Anthoine and Victoire scrambled up their net of branches, the Durmstrang champion made a dash for the tree, jumped and landed clinging to the bare trunk.

The Willow jerked and twisted around, nearly shaking Anthoine off, but the trunk had never been very mobile. The thin twigs whipped at her, and Teddy briefly hoped that would knock her down - hadn’t somebody lost an eye that way? But that close, and with most of the branches already pinned down by the other two champions, it couldn’t get at her, and in one quick scramble she was up the trunk and grabbing her golden ring from the top.

Teddy let out a disappointed groan and sank back into his seat. The little dark-haired girl squeezed his hand consolingly. Finley blew his whistle. Victoire looked up sharply, to where the Durmstrang champion was straddling a branch near the top of the tree, and the Durmstrang champion lifted her hand to show her the ring.

Teddy saw Victoire flinch, but she kept climbing and he was filled with a sudden rush of pride in her.

“That’s my girlfriend,” he told the Slytherins smugly.

“Yes, we know,” Avery said, not looking up from his book.

“What, the one who just lost? Why are you boasting about that?” Grimalkin asked, in a tone of scientific inquiry.

“…you just killed my moment,” Teddy said. “It was such a beautiful moment, and then you killed it. You’re murderers. I hope you’re sorry.”

“Grim, I forgot, do we put abstract concepts on the daily tally?” Rookwood asked, twirling a strand of hair between her fingers.

Oh, well. Teddy should have known better than to have a moment near Slytherins.

Victoire reached the top, closely followed by Anthoine, and held up three fingers, two fingers, one - they both took their ring at the exact same moment, and Finley blew his whistle for the end of the second task.

“That was hardly fair,” Teddy said, settling back into his seat as Victoire and the other two lined up to be judged. “It seems like Durmstrang Girl didn’t really earn it, you know?”

“Durmstrang Girl didn’t do anything wrong. They gave her an opportunity, and she took it,” Grimalkin said, at the same moment as Rookwood said  “Yes she did, she out-thought the other two. Weasley was terrible.”

“…I think she did all right,” Teddy said.

“She couldn’t even manage to die! Some people can do that when they’re in a coma, you know,” Rookwood said, folded her arms and fumed. “Or underwater. With a bag on their head. Tell her to do better next time.”

Teddy promised he would and inwardly resolved not to.

Teddy didn’t know how they decided which order to go in, but Anthoine got his points first. Seven from McGonagall, nine from Madame Maxime, four from Professor Kohut who apparently didn’t have much of a grasp of subtlety, eight from Finley and seven from Victoire’s Uncle Percy, which made for a total of thirty-five and an overall total of seventy-two.

The Durmstrang champion was next, and she only did a little better. Eight from McGonagall, seven from Madame Maxime, ten from Kohut, nine from Finley and eight from Percy, for a total of forty-two  - though, since she’d been quite a way behind them at the end of the first task, that only put her on seventy-three points.

Victoire was most interesting and therefore, inevitably, last. Eight from McGonagall, seven from Madame Maxime, four from Kohut, eight from Finley. Victoire’s Uncle Percy paused for a moment, then raised his wand and sent out one big silver nine. That got a gasp of surprise from most of the crowd, but Teddy figured out what he was doing - now Victoire had thirty-six points total, one more than Anthoine, which since she’d been one point behind him at the end of the last task meant she was now on exactly an equal footing with Anthoine.

That was pretty good, Teddy thought, handing the end of the banner off to the little dark-haired girl and loping down the stands to find Victoire. He kept an eye out for Al, too, but Al being on the small side and not having a very distinctive hair colour, he was always pretty hard to pick out of a crowd and Teddy couldn’t spot him anywhere.

The Champions had gone to a tent in a little grove of trees behind the stands, where Madam Zeller was fixing them up. Victoire had been perched on the edge of a bed, where Madam Zeller was spreading some yellowish foul-smelling paste out of a jar onto her knee, but when she saw Teddy she jumped up (nearly knocking over Madam Zeller) and limped over to him.

“Vicky, my darling, my dove,” Teddy said, sweeping her off her feet in a passionate embrace before she could fall over and carrying her out of the tent despite Madam Zeller’s complaints about people constantly abducting her patients. “Not that I want to disagree with you, but have you considered sitting-” He deposited her under a tree. “-down?”

He flopped down next to her and tried to pull her into his lap, but she squirmed away.

“So how do you think I did?”

“Absolutely perfectly,” Teddy assured her. “You’re very clever and practical and you shouldn’t worry even the tiniest bit about the Durmstrang champion because she’s nowhere near as wonderful as you.”

“No, I don’t want the boyfriend version, I want the true version,” Victoire explained.

“Oh. Well, it’s basically the same,” Teddy said. “Brilliant plan, all about inter-school friendship and co-operation and honour, very Gryffindor of you. Besides, I was surrounded by Slytherins - literal swarms of them, Vicky, a sea of green stabby loons as far as the eye can see - and none of them spotted the problem, which considering they’re chosen for their diabolical scheming says a lot - besides, neither did Beauxbatons Boy. I think you’re a genius, and you have a cute nose-” He kissed the end of it. “-and colourful hair-” He twined a few strands of her brilliant red-and-gold hair around his fingers. “-and you’re an amazing kisser.”

There was a brief, hopeful pause. Victoire’s cute nose wrinkled up.

“Ted Lupin, you are not subtle-” and then she laughed, and kissed him.

* * *

So where was Al?

More importantly, where was Rita Skeeter?

Rita Skeeter had been stretched out on a grassy knoll watching the second task through a pair of enchanted horn-rimmed binoculars, muttering half-sentences to herself and scribbling in an acid-green notebook. She’d actually been pretty easy to find, once Al had started looking. Somebody should have warned her that florescent pink robes weren’t exactly stealthy.

With the Champions leaving the field, Rita Skeeter climbed to her feet, brushing bits of grass off her robes and straightening her glasses before heading towards the medical tent. Al, wrapped up in his dad’s Invisibility Cloak, followed her at a safe distance (which, according to the Aurors’ Handbook, was about twenty feet).

Rita Skeeter strode along quickly and purposefully, making Al scamper along hastily behind her to keep up. Occasionally she flicked sharp glances to either side and behind her, straight through Al, but generally she acted as if she was perfectly entitled to be marching across Hogwarts property. Al could understand why - it said in the Aurors’ Handbook that the best way to get around an infiltrated building without being stopped was to walk purposefully carrying some files. 

Al followed Skeeter all the way to the tent just beyond the stands, where the Champions had gone after getting their marks. Was she trying to sneak in to interview Victoire again? That’d be pretty stupid after how Victoire had reacted the last time, unless it turned out Skeeter was fluent in French and Russian.

It looked like Skeeter wouldn’t need to sneak in, though, because that was when Teddy came out of the tent, carrying Victoire and bent nearly double under her weight. Skeeter stopped dead, so Al did too and watched her closely to see what she’d do.

What Skeeter’d do turned out to be creeping very slowly to behind a tree, where she peeked out at Teddy and Victoire - who were now lying about under a tree of their own probably being mushy at each other.

Skeeter looked around carefully - up at the top of the stands, towards the exit, right through Al who stood ten feet away and watched her owlishly and invisibly - and moved just a little further around the tree, far enough that she couldn’t be seen from the tent but not far enough that Teddy or Victoire would be able to see her.

Then she took a deep breath. Her entire body seemed to ripple, and then she seemed to fall in on herself and dwindle away into the grass, transforming into… something… as she went.

Al yelped.

Rita Skeeter was an Animagus.

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