Summary: Cedric Diggory was living a pretty normal life, until he met someone who wasn't even born yet.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Warnings: Underage (16 and 17)
Title, Author and URL of original story: Rise from the Ashes by midnitemaraud_r
Author Notes: Thanks to my awesome beta reddwarfer! LJ cut quotes are from Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett.
Over the night, he thought better of it. Messing with the future- or messing with the past- was dangerous. Anyone should know that. He shouldn't go near Teddy.
But when he walked into Defense Against the Dark Arts and saw Professor Lupin look up with a kind smile- a smile that was passed down and intensified in his son- Cedric knew he'd be going to the Room of Requirement as soon as he could.
"So," Cedric said, as they lay across the yellow rug on Teddy's bed. "This room. It can be other things, right?"
It was the Easter holiday. Cedric had told his parents he was staying to revise, which was fine because Easter was not a big holiday at their house, anyway. But it was for other students, and he and Teddy had the castle almost to themselves.
"Yeah." Teddy pushed away his Transfiguration book and flipped over onto his back. "What did you have in mind?"
"You said you're a Seeker," Cedric said with a grin.
Teddy caught the challenge. "Right. Let's see what this room can do."
They left it, and when they entered again the ceilings were much higher, and the room was longer. The walls were soft when Cedric leaned against one, and the floors squishy like gym mats. To the right of the door, there was an assortment of brooms in racks, and to the left, a training box of balls.
Cedric whooped, his voice echoing in the huge room. "Last one off the ground is a wet ponce!" He grabbed a broom and swung on to it, his feet just barely missing Teddy's ear as he took off.
They were whipping around the room, hollering mock insults at each other and avoiding the Bludgers that Teddy had let out of the case. Teddy certainly wasn't lying about his Quidditch abilities, and when the Snitch appeared, they quit chasing each other and both hurtled towards it at breakneck speed.
They played for what felt like minutes, but amounted to two hours. Finally, Teddy turned the room back into his own room, and they both collapsed on the floor, laughing and sweating.
"I wish I had some lemonade," Teddy said. "I can nick food here and there, but beggars can't be choosers and all that."
"Don't tell me you don't know how to get into the kitchens," Cedric said.
"Of course I know how," Teddy scoffed. "I've been doing it since first year. But the less contact with anyone the better, and the house elves count."
"Whatever." Personally, Cedric didn't think the house elves were as bright as Teddy was giving them credit for, but he wasn't going to argue with him about aspects of time travel. Instead, he got to his feet. "Hold tight. I'll go get us something."
Cedric was well practiced at getting food from the kitchens. The Hufflepuff Quidditch team had a tradition that the newest players got food for the older ones, thus ensuring that every Hufflepuff player (and consequently, their friends and most of the house) knew this little "secret". The house elves were as happy as always to oblige.
He'd just purloined a tray of sandwiches, some chocolate pudding, and the desired lemonade when an idea came to him. "Hey. Do you know the room in the castle that can turn into anything you want?" he asked an elf named Barty.
"Oh, yes sir!" Barty squeaked. "The Come and Go Room! Barty has used it many times before."
"Really? Listen, would you bring up some food later?" And as simply as that, it was arranged.
When he got back to the Room of Requirement, Teddy was still laying across the bed, eyes closed. "Out of shape?" Cedric teased, setting the tray down and sitting on the floor. Teddy opened his eyes and slid off the bed, his body fluid like silk falling.
"I had no idea," he groaned. "I haven't sat on a broom at all in weeks." Cedric poured him a glass of lemonade and Teddy drank it down. "I'm going to be in real trouble when I get back."
"Will you go back to the same moment?" Cedric wondered. "Or will the same amount of time have passed?"
"I don't know," Teddy admitted. "I assume the same moment. Otherwise it will be hard to explain."
"I imagine so. Not that I'm trying to push you out the door or anything, but when are you going back?"
Teddy shrugged and took a bite of sandwich. "Not yet," he said around a mouthful. "I haven't done everything I want to do."
Cedric couldn't help smiling. He'd only known Teddy for a few weeks, but the thought of him leaving left him with a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. He blushed and looked down at the sandwiches. Teddy was silent, too, and Cedric wondered if his thoughts were along the same lines.
"So," Teddy finally said quietly, and confirmed Cedric's guess, "do you still see Roger Davies?"
Teddy looked up. "Why not?"
Cedric bit his lip. "It's not like it ever meant anything to either of us, right? No- hear me out. I'm not a total prude," he said, relaxing again and smiling. "It would be one thing if I really liked him. But it was something you said."
"Something I said?"
"Yeah. About my whole demeanor and language being different. Being hostile. I thought about it after, and you were right. And it's not so much that it made me different, but I realized I didn't really enjoy being with him." Teddy smirked, and Cedric smacked his arm. "Not like that, doof. The sex was good- I enjoyed that. But that was I all I liked- the sex. And hell, if all I want is to get off, I can do that alone. Or find plenty of other people. No reason to do it with someone who I don't really want to be around."
"Makes sense," Teddy agreed. "So did you break off with him?"
Cedric snorted. "Not in any sort of big scene or anything. But I haven't gone looking for him, and he hasn't come looking for me. It's done, and that's fine with me."
He thought about it then, segueing the conversation to their relationship. But it seemed so cheap and crass to say, "yeah, I'm done with him. You want a turn?" You wouldn't tell a girl that you'd broken up with your last girlfriend and then ask her out, so Cedric suspected a guy wouldn't be that much different.
Even if he had to admit, he really, really wanted to.
As much as he wanted to, he couldn't stay in the Room of Requirement the entire holiday. There was work to get done, and Cedric found he wasn't concentrating terribly well in Teddy's room. Plus, he needed to be seen upon occasion, just so no one asked unfortunate questions.
However, he really didn't want to be seen by the person he bumped into.
"Careful!" Professor Lupin jumped back, holding his hand over a steaming cup. "Oh, hello, Cedric. I'm sorry. I was lost in thought and didn't see you there."
"Not a problem, Professor," Cedric managed to croak out. He knew he should go, because the temptation to say something was overwhelming, but at the same time he heard himself asking, "I'm glad I ran into you anyway. Do you have time sometime to go over the homenum revelio spell?"
"Are you free right now?" Professor Lupin asked. "The next few days will be busy for me, but I have time right now."
Cedric nodded and followed the professor back to his office, and looked around with new eyes.
It was an impossibly lonely room. There were creatures and anatomical diagrams, books and stacks of parchment. But there were no pictures of friends, family members, or a girlfriend. He wondered if Professor Lupin even knew Nymphadora Tonks-
Whoa, wait a minute. Professor Lupin married Dora Tonks? Cedric liked the man, but what was Dora thinking and how the hell did a bloke like him rate a girl like her? Cedric remembered her as an incredibly attractive, spunky girl, and smart, too. He looked at Lupin with a newfound respect.
"What are you having trouble with?" Professor Lupin asked, settling down at his desk.
"It's mainly the application, this time," Cedric answered. "I'm not sure I understand the legalities." Which, incidentally, was true.
Professor Lupin began to explain. Cedric noticed he was toying with the drink he'd been carrying. It had a distinctly unpleasant odor to it, like burnt popcorn and garlic. Finally, the professor sighed and began to drink it. Judging by his face, it tasted as terrible as it smelled.
"I do apologize, Cedric," Professor Lupin said. "I know it's terribly bad manners to drink in front of someone without offering them refreshment. But-"
"It's all right, Professor," Cedric cut him off. "Judging by the smell, I'm not sure I'd want any." Professor Lupin laughed, and emboldened, Cedric asked, "Is it medicine?"
"Of a sort. Medicine isn't the exact word I'd use, but it's close enough."
Cedric wanted to ask more, but there was something about Professor Lupin's demeanor that strongly discouraged it. He sighed and turned his attention back to the explanation. And by the end, he felt he understood it thoroughly- and probably better than if he'd just studied it with Lupin's son.
"Thank you for helping me with this," he said when they were finished. "Really."
"Any time, Cedric." Professor Lupin smiled. "I'm always glad to help a student. If I may ask, do you have any idea of what you might like to do after Hogwarts?"
"My father would like it if I went into the Ministry."
Cedric sighed. "I'm more interested in medicine." Irresistibly, he added, "Or an Auror," although he had no such desire.
"Well, you have the marks to be considered," Professor Lupin said.
"Maybe. They're hard to get into, though. The last person they took from my house was Nymphadora Tonks. Do you know her?"
Professor Lupin shook his head. "I've heard the name once or twice, but I've never met her."
Cedric couldn't help the smirk that broke out over his face. "Oh, you'd like her a lot, I suspect." And that sort of comment was exactly why he'd been trying to avoid Professor Lupin. He hastily gathered his books together. "Thanks again. I'd better get going- lots of work to do."
He turned and ran for the door.
"So," Cedric said when the room had been transformed back into a bedroom again and they had flopped on the bed. "Would it be changing the space-time continuum if you told me if Hufflepuff is good team in twenty years?"
Teddy grinned. "I'm Captain," he said, waggling his eyebrows. "What do you think?"
Cedric couldn't help laughing. "I can still kick your arse."
"Only because these brooms are so outdated. I don't think it would be violating the laws anything to tell you they're faster twenty years from now."
"No." Cedric sighed. "I probably could have guessed. Harry Potter broke his broom in the Hufflepuff-Gryffindor match earlier this year, and he got a Firebolt. You should see that thing fly." Teddy was silent. "What?"
"Nothing. I… I just didn't know that."
"Oh. Well, I can't imagine the history books talk about student Quidditch roles."
"No." Teddy's answer was very clipped, and suddenly Cedric realized that either Teddy knew Harry, or… or Harry was dead. Perhaps that was it. Sirius Black killed Harry, gained power, and the world Teddy came from (looking to find help from his long-dead, Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching father) was very, very different than the one Cedric knew. The realization was like vertigo, and he gripped the rug.
"Oh, well," he heard himself saying. "My father hasn't shut up about that match, I have to admit. It drives me crazy, but he keeps talking about how I can tell my kids and grandkids about beating Harry Potter in Quidditch." Teddy looked away, and Cedric realized he'd somehow made things worse. "Shit."
"No, it's all right." Teddy turned back with a forced smile. "Let's just change the subject."
There was something so vulnerable in his face, something sad and lost and very alone. Cedric leaned in and kissed him.
Teddy froze for a moment, and then Cedric felt the firm, gentle pressure of his lips as he responded. Then his mouth opened and he traced Cedric's lower lip with his tongue, and Cedric knew he was done for. He lay down on his back and pulled Teddy on top of him, and Teddy began to respond even more enthusiastically.
It was different, he thought afterwards, than being with Roger, and not just because there was kissing and touching and things Roger never would have let him do. It was that being with Roger was just something Cedric did; it was filling a need and nothing more. Being with Teddy, Cedric couldn't deny this was part of who he was.
Teddy was dozing, naked and nestled against him. Cedric ran a hand down his arm, but stopped when Teddy stirred. He kissed his hair gently, then tucked his free arm behind his head and stared at the canopy. It was soft and warm and comfortable. Cedric had never slept beside anyone before, but as he drifted off, he decided he liked the experience.
He told himself over and over again this was a bad idea. Aside from screwing with the future (quite literally, Cedric was perversely proud of that pun), he was getting attached. He could pretend it was all just sex and friendship, but Cedric was essentially an honest person, and he knew it ran deeper than that. Not love- he wasn't that soppy, for Merlin's sake, to think he was in love after a matter of days- but there was something there. And so he stayed with Teddy, because he knew time was short and he wasn't going to miss the little he had.
Time passed, and April turned to May. Teddy still stayed, and Cedric didn't ask why. The newness started to fade and the relationship became comfortable. They talked and laughed, and the sex only improved (not that Cedric exactly had a lot of basis for comparison). Sometimes they argued, and other nights they stayed up late, talking.
Every now and then, Teddy would let something slip. Cedric learned that Harry Potter was Teddy's godfather, which seemed ludicrous since Harry was an awkward, rather shy third year right now, and might have still been in school when Teddy was born. He learned that Teddy was orphaned. Professor Lupin dying was not a surprise, but that Dora Tonks had passed away was. Well, sort of. Teddy didn't say how she died, but Cedric imagined it must be in the line of duty. He tried to imagine what it would be like not knowing either of his parents, but it was hard. The way Teddy talked made Cedric feel like the future was a happy place, so his original thought that Black had killed Harry was cheerfully disbanded. The one thing Cedric would have liked to know was how he knew Teddy, but after a while, it just didn't matter. The Cedric who knew Teddy was a whole different person than the one who was here now.
It was a warm night in May. Cedric knew he would never forget that because, well, being caught naked and snogging your time traveling boyfriend in the Prefect's bathroom by his father who didn't know his son existed yet just wasn't something that slipped your mind too easily.
It had started off so innocently. Okay, not innocent, given that Cedric had every intention of the evening ending up in sex, but innocent in terms of "not meddling with destiny" or whatever. He and Teddy had made full use of the Prefect's bathroom, from roughhousing in the vast tub to mutual blow jobs in a nest of soft towels. They'd dozed together, heedless of other Prefects that might wander in at this time of night. Things were just getting good again when the door slammed open and they both jumped to their feet guiltily.
Cedric only got the briefest flash of the figure before them, enough to know it was an adult. His panicked mind rocketed between the possibilities of Professor Dumbledore and Sirius Black, all while cursing the fact his clothes and wand were on the other side of the room. What had possessed them to not take any precautions at all? Teddy jumped in front of him, and then went stiff. Whoever had burst in had hexed him.
Cedric moved to help him when a familiar voice said, "Leave him be, Mr. Diggory, and stay where you are."
He hesitated, naked and very aware he'd been caught. Then he looked at Teddy and went limp with relief. Teddy had changed his face to look like Davies, again. Thank Merlin. This he could handle.
"Professor Lupin, I can explain," Cedric began, ready to launch into promises that it would never happen again. Lupin ignored him entirely, stalking around the pool and flicking his wand. Teddy slumped to the floor as if he'd been turned to a rag doll, and Professor Lupin knelt on his chest, pointing his want at his throat. "Professor Lupin! Please, wait!" Cedric said, but he might as well have been absent for all that Lupin acknowledged him. His eyes were burning into Teddy.
"Who the hell are you?"
"Professor, it's me, sir! Roger!" Cedric held his breath. Teddy didn't sound a thing like Roger, but maybe…
No such luck. "Nice try," Lupin growled. "If you lie again, I'll Stun you and send you to the Dementors, and you can answer to them." Cedric's stomach started churning at those words, and at the steel in his teacher's voice.
"Please. I can explain," Teddy whispered.
Cedric stepped forward. "Professor, sir, we-"
Professor Lupin turned and pointed his wand straight at him, and involuntarily, Cedric took a step back. In that moment, he had absolutely no doubt that Professor Lupin was capable of killing a person. He thought of the rumors that Sirius Black had been helped into the castle, and right now he began to believe they were true. "Stay where you are Mr Diggory, if you please. I would think you're in enough trouble already," Lupin commanded in a voice of ice.
Lupin turned his attention back to Teddy. "I repeat, for the last time. Who are you? I know you're an impostor, and I know the real Roger Davies is, at this very moment, in his dormitory. Answer me!"
Shit! They were completely and utterly… Teddy whispered something. Cedric couldn't hear it, but whatever it was made the color drain from Professor Lupin's face.
"What did you say?" he demanded.
"The Marauder's Map never lies."
The words cracked the last of Professor Lupin's strained control. He grabbed Teddy by the shoulders. "How could you?" he choked out. "Nobody…." Cedric took another step back, and then forward again as Lupin shook Teddy. "What have you done to Harry? Did Black send you?"
"Stop!" Cedric shouted as Lupin shook Teddy, but only the mermaid in the painting acknowledged him in any way.
And then Teddy's face began to change. It became slimmer, more pointed, with the sandy hair and the brown eyes that Cedric knew far better than he'd ever learned Davies's face. And with them nose to nose, the resemblance was crystal clear.
"Polyjuice?" Professor Lupin asked, but Cedric could tell he didn't believe that hypothesis himself.
Teddy shook his head. "Metamorphmagus." Lupin didn't answer that, and Teddy pressed on. "You saw the map," Teddy said. "You saw my name. Sirius didn't send me, Sirius doesn't even know me, and Harry doesn't know I exist yet, either. It was an accident. I didn't know…"
And suddenly, Cedric wanted to run. To get as far away from this scene as possible, because this was too private, too sacred for him to witness. He could see the gears turning into place in Professor Lupin's head, and the realization dawning. He could see the desperate hope written on Teddy's face, and the way his hands trembled as he restrained himself from catching his father's hand. A lump formed in Cedric's throat.
"The Marauder's Map never lies," Teddy was saying, his voice slow and hypnotic. "You told Harry that, or you will. Everything is so confusing. Anyway, you'll have to tell him now, because he told me. Moony. You know who I am." He paused, waiting for the professor to speak, but he didn't say a word. "Right side pocket," Teddy said, pointing at his robes with his chin. "I'm flat on my back and I'm unarmed. Please."
It was when Cedric saw Professor Lupin remove the Map from Teddy's pocket that the penny dropped. Teddy had called him "Moony." Cedric had seen the Map operate enough to know that one of the authors was a Mr. Moony. Oh. Professor Lupin unfolded the Map.
"It's impossible," he said, his hands shaking.
Teddy sat up and nodded. "Three months ago, I would have agreed. But obviously it is. Possible."
Professor Lupin's face lost any remaining color and he sank to the floor gracelessly, his wand bouncing off the hard marble floor with a clatter as he buried his face in his hands. Teddy gave an inarticulate cry and rushed over, and Cedric had to wipe a very suspicious wetness from his cheeks with the back of his hand. He could feel Teddy's yearning, it was almost a tangible thing in the room. He closed his eyes. Teddy was babbling something, but Cedric tried not to listen. It was far too intimate.
Then there was silence. A horrible silence.
"Oh, my god," Teddy said, his voice heavy and laden with horror. "I'm naked. I'm bloody starkers! I'm sitting here with my father who tried to kill me and I just had sex with my…my…boy—my…Merlin's balls on a broomstick!" He ducked his head, blushing profusely, banged his forehead against his father's shoulder and buried his face against his robes. "I want to die right now," he whispered.
The absurdity of the whole situation washed over Cedric like a wave. He held it down, until Professor Lupin lost it himself, dissolving into heaps of hysterical laughter.
Teddy regarded him with a shocked, hurt expression. "You're laughing? You're laughing at me? I thought you were crying, you sadistic bastard! It's not funny!"
Cedric couldn't help it. He began to laugh himself, both with relief and at them, the three of them, and what a mess this was. He laughed until his sides hurt and he had to bend over and gasp for air, none of it helped by Teddy saying, "Traitor. 'Snot fair." And then Teddy began laughing, and it felt like a spring breeze was blowing through the bathroom.
Obviously, there was a lot more to be said. But as the laughter faded, Cedric realized he wasn't the one who should be saying it. Or hearing it. Teddy and Professor Lupin were looking at each other, and the emotion on their faces was almost too much to bear.
Cedric decided he'd better get dressed, especially when Professor Lupin reached out and traced Teddy's cheek. "I'm sorry," Lupin whispered.
"No, Dad," Teddy swallowed, blinking hard. He cleared his throat. "I'm the one who should be sorry."
"Well, then we'll both be sorry and leave it at that."
Okay. Definitely time to go. Cedric cleared his throat. Teddy turned and saw him standing there, and then stood and gently laid a hand on his arm.
Cedric smiled. "I think that's my cue to leave. That is unless, sir," he turned to Professor Lupin, his face serious, "unless you intend to give me detention."
Lupin smiled. "I think we can let this one slide, Mr Diggory. I do, however, expect you to go straight back to your dormitory. If you don't," he waggled the map in his hand, "I shall know."
"Bugger," Cedric muttered.
"I heard that. I also expect that you'll be, ah, discreet with regard to the events of this evening."
"I think you can depend on that, professor, sir." It was the first sentence that came easily ever since Professor Lupin had burst in.
"Good. Then I won't have to spit and roast you over a slow fire for seducing my son."
"Me? He kissed me first!" Cedric laughed. "Besides, he's older than I am, much older."
"Hey!" Teddy protested. "I'm not that old and you were born years before me. And it was your fault. But I'm glad." He looked Cedric in the eye and smiled. "Really glad."
Cedric grinned back and thumped him gently on the shoulder, his hand lingering for a moment. "Look me up in twenty years, yeah?"
He took in Teddy's face one last time, because he knew this was goodbye. There would be no farewells after this, because so much of this never should have been anyway. But even if it was stolen, it was good. He smiled, turned, and walked away. But when his hand touched the handle, he knew it wasn't that easy. Cedric turned around and walked quickly back to him, grabbed him by his shoulders and kissed him hard. Teddy kissed him back, his hand cupping Cedric's cheek and jaw in a gesture of complete tenderness.
Don't leave, Cedric wanted to say, but he knew he couldn't.
He pulled away first, reluctant, and then saw this was hurting Teddy, too. This wasn't how he wanted Teddy to remember him, and he didn't want to ruin this moment between the Lupins, either. He managed a brilliant grin, nodded to Professor Lupin, and turned around and walked out the door.
It wasn't until he was in his dorm, lights out and everyone asleep, that he let himself cry.
He didn't deliberately stay after Defense Against Dark Arts the next class, and Professor Lupin didn't ask him to. But somehow, they found themselves alone in the classroom.
"So." Professor Lupin stayed at his desk, but he templed his fingers and looked over them at Cedric, who was still sitting in his seat staring at the page of notes which consisted mainly of doodles.
"Is… is he gone?" Cedric asked, although he knew the answer.
Professor Lupin sighed heavily. "He is. We had a chance to talk before he left, though."
Cedric nodded, his throat tight. He wasn't quite sure what to say. It was easy to laugh and joke about it last night in the Prefect's bathroom. Today, sitting in the classroom with Teddy gone and the sunlight filtering through the windows… it just wasn't.
Professor Lupin cleared his throat. "He cares for you very much."
"I know," Cedric said. "I felt the same."
Professor Lupin smiled sadly. "You know, I suppose that's really what any parent would wish for a child, that they could say that. That they care deeply about someone, and that feeling was returned."
"I guess. I've never thought about having kids."
"I haven't either."
It was on the table, so Cedric plunged. "The cancer?"
Professor Lupin jerked back. "What?"
"Is it the cancer?" Cedric asked. "Is that the reason you don't think about children?"
"Cancer? Did he tell you that?"
"No. Oh! No, he didn't tell me anything about you," Cedric admitted. "Caleb and I… well, we figured that's what it was, why you miss so many days and seem- well, sorry sir, but you seem sick a lot- and why you were taking that potion."
"I see." Professor Lupin bit his lip. "That's not quite it, but it's close enough. The fact that I am well into my thirties and have no romantic prospects doesn't exactly encourage the thought of children, either."
"Just think," Cedric thought, counting on his fingers, "assuming you make an honest woman out of your mystery lady, you'll be married in under four years."
Professor Lupin shuddered. "There's a thought to keep me up at night. I've been a bachelor for too long, I think." There was a light tone to his voice that made Cedric think the issue was far more complex, but not something to be discussed. "However, that does lead into something else I wanted to talk to you about."
Cedric sighed. "I'm guessing it's the fact Teddy and I are both male?"
"Smart lad." Professor Lupin got up and walked to the window. "I know the world- both Wizarding and Muggle- has come a long way since I was your age. But I also know that discovering that your sexuality is, well, not the accepted default can be unnerving. And lonely."
"I'd appreciate it if you keep this in confidence, which, ironically, is exactly why I am saying it. When I was in fifth year, there was this man. He was in his seventies, and…," suddenly Professor Lupin began chuckling.
"I'd forgotten. He was involved with your Uncle Andrew."
That caught Cedric off-guard. "You know Timothy?"
Professor Lupin blinked. "No, this was before Timothy. His name was Alphard. Regardless, he was gay. And when I came to certain realizations about myself, he was there to help me through it. Not in any sort of sexual way," he backpedaled quickly, holding his hands up. "But as a friendly ear. It helped."
"Oh." Cedric could see what he was trying to say.
"You may not need it. From what I saw, you seemed like you've adjusted quite well," Lupin said with a leer, and Cedric blushed so hard his cheeks hurt. "But if you need to discuss it, my door is open to you."
"Thank you," Cedric mumbled.
"I suspect I've embarrassed you enough for one day," Professor Lupin said, turning away from the window fully and smiling fondly at Cedric. "But I suppose that if things were very different… well, I guess it's best not to think on it. But Cedric, I meant what I said. If you need to talk about any of this, please find me. We might not be able to discuss certain things, but…"
"But we can at least be silent together," Cedric said. He pulled himself together. "And I did mean it when I said thank you. I'll think about it." He gathered his books together and stood awkwardly.
They faced each other in the slanting sunlight, and suddenly Professor Lupin closed the space between them with two swift steps and hugged Cedric the way a father would hug a son. Cedric stiffened, and then hugged back awkwardly with one arm while his other still clutched his books.
"Thank you, sir," he said.
Lupin only smiled.
Cedric had thought that he'd never bother talking to Professor Lupin about anything more than Defense Against the Dark Arts. His sexuality didn't bother him because he was bi, thank you, and no one had to know that if he chose for them not to, and they couldn't talk about Teddy.
But the emptiness Teddy had left in Cedric's life was like a constant, dull ache. And he couldn't discuss it with anyone- not Caleb, not his parents, not anyone. Professor Lupin at least knew Teddy's name. And once he was there, it became easier to talk about the things he wouldn't say to anyone else.
He didn't go often, because the temptation to say too much was overwhelming. But late at night, when he couldn't deny that he didn't only think about girls, he was glad to have a friend.
"Cedric! Cedric, did you hear?"
Cedric had just sat down to breakfast when Caleb rushed up. "Did I hear what?" Cedric asked, plopping a giant ladle of scrambled eggs onto his plate.
"About Sirius Black, and Professor Lupin and Professor Snape, and Harry Potter and the Weasley kid and whatsername."
"Hermione Granger," Cedric automatically supplied. "What about them?"
"Last night. Black attacked Weasley, or at least they thought. But- get this- apparently he wasn't after Weasley at all!"
"He was after Potter?" Cedric guessed.
"No! Weasley's rat!"
"Why in the world would anyone want a rat?" Cedric asked.
"Because," Caleb paused for dramatic effect, "it wasn't really a rat at all."
"It was an octopus?"
"Very funny. It was an Animagus. Peter Pettigrew."
Cedric, child of a Ministry official, had heard the story of Peter Pettigrew. He even used to pretend to be him when they played Dark Wizards as kids. "Wait. Didn't Pettigrew die? Hell, didn't Black kill him?"
"According to Black, Pettigrew is the one that betrayed the Potters. And he's the one that killed all those Muggles. And then he faked his own death and framed Black for it all!"
Cedric choked on the bite of eggs he'd just taken. "You're kidding," he gasped.
"No. And Dumbledore believes him!"
"So, what happens to Pettigrew?" Cedric asked, and took another bite.
"Well, that's the juicy part. Apparently, Lupin and Snape realized that Black was out there, and they caught Pettigrew. But… you know how we thought Lupin had cancer? We were wrong! He's a werewolf!"
He should have learned from experience and not taken that last bite. This time, it took several minutes of Caleb pounding on his back to regain his ability to breathe. "A werewolf?" he managed to wheeze out.
"Yeah. I guess Dumbledore was trying to keep it low, but Professor Snape told the Slytherins. I guess he was taking Wolfsbane, so he didn't try to attack anyone. But when he changed, Pettigrew managed to escape. Snape and Black tried to catch him, but it was too late. Pettigrew had turned into a rat again, and there's probably no catching him now."
"What about Weasley and Potter and Granger?"
"They're all fine. Lupin's apparently under the weather, and he's resigning."
Cedric didn't even have to ask why. "And Black?"
"He's in the infirmary as well. Kinsey over in Ravenclaw got a look at him and said he's really thin and looks absolutely awful. Malnourished, probably. Can you believe it?"
Not really, Cedric thought. How many times could your world turn upside down in a year?
On to Part 3