Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Chapter One—House of Nightmares
Teddy kicked one of the large, dusty trunks in the attic and immediately regretted it at the sharp throbbing in his toes. He sat down on said trunk and buried his face in his hands to keep from screaming in frustration that Harry didn't understand and that he just wanted to be left alone.
For one thing, most of Teddy, the rational part, knew that Harry did in fact understand, and for another, pouting that he simply wanted to be left alone was quite cliché for his fifteen years. Nonetheless he resolved to stay in the cramped, dusty attic of Grimmauld Place until everyone downstairs had time to forget about his shouting match with Harry.
It had been an unusually bad one. He and Harry rarely argued, but lately there seemed to be one subject they could not seem to agree on. As much as Harry insisted that Remus Lupin had been a wonderful mentor and father Teddy was having trouble reconciling this image from an uglier one that had recently come to light.
Before Teddy had left for Hogwarts for his first year he had heard countless stories from Gran and Harry, and all the Weasleys about how wonderful his parents were, how heroic the were, how much he reminded everyone of them. And Teddy had always loved those stories, his face beaming with pride when he heard that he looked like his mother but had his father's smile and kind eyes. But as his years at Hogwarts progressed Teddy learned more about the "truth" of the war against Voldemort and the more he heard about the Battle of Hogwarts the more he realized that his parents need not have been there at all. He was hardly even alive when they had rushed off to battle where they met their insignificant deaths and left him an orphan.
Every time Teddy had this thought he felt a surge of guilt, but he quickly pushed it aside to make room for the anger that bubbled up with it. Teddy felt thoroughly abandoned, and when he had let this slip to Harry, they had had an awful row.
Now he felt guilt creeping into his gut again but his anger had subsided and he knew that he had said some things that he did not really mean. He had been frustrated and both he and his godfather had said things that they were now beginning to regret. Teddy sighed and tried to push these thoughts from his mind.
In an attempt to distract himself Teddy took to observing his surroundings. While really quite large the attic was stuffed with so many miscellaneous objects that there was hardly room for Teddy to have pulled back his leg and kicked the trunk at all. There were more old trunks, broken cabinets, a large grandfather clock that no longer worked, and boxes of baby things that James, Al, and Lily no longer used. When Teddy was much younger he and Uncle Harry had gone on adventure "treasure hunts" into the attic that always ended with defeating some sort of evil pirates or dark wizards and saving the day. Now, it just looked like a bunch of junk, but that might have been his mood.
Teddy had spent most of the Christmas holiday in a dour mood, sulking about the place and getting dark looks from Harry and Aunt Ginny. He was cheerful enough on Christmas day. Gran had come and he had had a snowball fight out in the square with the Potter children. But ever since the end of term, Teddy had been weighed down by thoughts of his parents and could not bring himself to enjoy the break from school with any sort of gusto. His latest argument with his godfather was just the icing on the cake.
Not yet ready to return downstairs, Teddy got up from the trunk, brushed his turquoise hair out of his face and began to poke around at some of the more interesting objects in the room. Both Uncle Harry's and Aunt Ginny's old school trunks were up here and behind them was a more interesting looking one that appeared to be much older, or at least in much worse condition. Teddy dragged Harry's trunk out of the way, coughing at the dust that it kicked up from the floor along the way, and then turned Ginny's trunk to the side.
The old piece of luggage was coated in dust and Teddy swiped away the front of it with his hand before wiping it on his jeans. The trunk opened out from the front and small faded letters on the right hand side door read R. J. Lupin.
Teddy stared at the name for a moment, shocked that he had never come across this item before nor heard about it from Harry. Perhaps it had simply gotten lost in the shuffle of other old and dusty objects in the attic, but Teddy felt as though it had been waiting for him. With a trembling hand Teddy reached for the latch in the middle of the trunk and pulled, but it would not budge. He looked for some sort of keyhole, but there was none. Perhaps it was merely stuck? But no matter how hard Teddy pulled at the latch, it remained stubbornly shut.
Teddy's initial excitement was quickly fading. Most likely there wasn't even anything inside, just an empty, broken piece of luggage that had been forgotten in recesses of Grimmauld Place's attic. He sighed and stared at the old trunk in front of him. He was not short on items that had belonged to his parents. Everything they had owned had been recovered after the war and divided between Harry, Gran, and what they were saving for Teddy. Books, photos, a few treasured items from his mother and father, most of them were now in Teddy's possession. But his favorite item was perhaps the Marauder's Map, which he knew was not his to keep but he treasured nonetheless. When he left Hogwarts it would go to James, but for now it was his.
A sudden idea struck Teddy at the thought of the map and he pulled out his wand. Conscious that he was not allowed to do magic away from Hogwarts but not particularly in the mood to follow the rules, Teddy tapped his wand against the stubborn latch and muttered, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
Instantly, the latch flew open and Teddy had to jump back as the doors of the trunk swung open towards him. Drawers, compartments, hangers, books, old quills, it all looked like old junk but Teddy felt as though he had discovered buried treasure. He ran a hand through his hair and stared wide-eyed at the plethora of random items that filled the trunk. For a moment he merely looked at it, but then he began to truly inspect the contents.
Teddy found a drawer full or half-used inkbottles, a pile of used but discarded parchment with the beginnings of scratched out letters that Teddy could not make out. In a small little drawer on the right hand side Teddy pulled out a stained letter addressed to "Professor Lupin." It was old and faded, and covered in some sort of grainy substance. He could only make out bits and pieces of it.
I have - - - - - - - - - - - - -ofessor McGonagall but cannot- - - - - - - - - her - - - -office is locked. I need to return this- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -end of the day and I don't want to leave it lying around, so- - - - - - -you could deliver it- - - - - - - - - - - - -ought it would be safest here and I trust you to take care to- - - - - McGonagall at your earli- - - - - -
Than- - - - -
Teddy could make little sense of the content of the letter but deduced that it must have been from the year that his father taught at Hogwarts. He put the letter in his pocket and made a mental note to ask Aunt Hermione about it when he next saw her. He peered into the little drawer to see if there were other letters, but all that was in there was some broken glass, a golden chain, and a shimmering sort of sand. Curious, Teddy reached out a hand to touch it. At the touch of his finger, the sand seemed to sparkle and he took a large pinch of it to further inspect.
It slipped through his fingers like water, but more slowly. When Teddy went to brush it off of his jeans, it clouded in the air like dust, much lighter than actual sand, and like dust when it made it to Teddy's face he began to cough and sputter. From all the coughing, more of the shimmering substance was clouding in the air and Teddy began to feel lightheaded. He pushed himself away from the trunk and kicked it shut with his feet and one final cloud of shimmering sand rose into the air when the doors swung closed.
Teddy swatted at the air with one hand and covered his coughing mouth with the other, his head feeling light and dizzy. He tried to stand, but the room around him began to spin and grow hazy and he stumbled backwards, into the old grandfather clock, knocking it to the ground with a tremendous bang. Spinning wildly at the sound and thoroughly disoriented, Teddy tripped on the fallen clock and watched as his vision darkened before he even hit the floor.
When Teddy awoke he was entirely disoriented. He lay still for a full minute before it came to him that he was on the floor in the attic at Grimmauld Place. He stared up at the ceiling for a few minutes trying to compose himself and then began to pull himself to his feet.
Glancing down at his clothes Teddy saw that his jeans and shirt were covered with the same dusty sand that had given him a coughing fit. He turned around to see the damage that the grandfather clock had caused when he accidentally knocked it over but the clock was nowhere to be seen.
Odd, thought Teddy. He had bumped into it just moments ago. But his head had been so fuzzy… he had been lightheaded and tripped and then he blacked out. Teddy supposed he couldn't really say how long he had been unconscious but if it had been any significant stretch of time he felt certain that Harry would have come looking for him, despite their earlier argument.
With a heavy sigh, Teddy pressed his palms against his eyes and tried to ignore his growing headache. He was tired, frustrated, and ready to leave the dusty attic to get some fresh air. He removed his hands from his face, patted his pocket to make sure his wand was there, and was turning towards the stairs when he realized that something was not quite right.
A quick survey of the room revealed that, for some reason or another in the short span of time that Teddy had been unconscious on the floor the attic had become, if possible, even dustier and grimier than before. His father's trunk that he had been inspecting was nowhere to be seen, nor were Harry's or Ginny's. There were no neatly packed boxes of baby things and there was no (Teddy glanced behind to check again) broken grandfather clock.
There were a number of boxes full of objects that Teddy did not recognize, and as he peered curiously into one by his feet he noticed that quite a few of the items inside appeared distinctly dark. Almost everything had some sort of serpent engraving or sculpture and the Black family crest was embossed on most of the contents.
A trunk in the corner caught Teddy's eye and he carefully made his way over to inspect it. He hoped to find HJP or GMW on the side of it for some sense of familiarity, but instead he found the more ornate object to bear the initials RAB, which he did not recognize. Now starting to feel a little panicked, Teddy anxiously ran a hand through his hair and let it fade back to its normal honey brown shade. He walked as briskly as he could in the crowded space and flung open to the door that led to the stairs. Taking them two at a time, Teddy landed in the hallway below and staggered backwards at what he saw.
He fell into a sitting position on the stairs behind him and sat gaping at the sight that greeted him. There was no doubt that this was Grimmauld Place, but Teddy felt as though he had wandered into some sort of nightmare version of it.
The layout of the hallway before him was exactly as he remembered it, but nothing else was. It looked destitute and abandoned. Rather than the bright, cheerful lamps that Harry had installed there were old-fashioned candelabras that lined the walls filling the space with a dim, dreary light and cast dark, thick shadows on the carpet and the walls. None of the family photos that Teddy knew lined the walls; rather they were bare and dirty.
I'm dreaming, Teddy told himself frantically, I'm still unconscious in the attic and I'm dreaming.
Quickly, Teddy pinched himself on the arm and gasped as it immediately stung. He pulled his feet up onto the stair beneath him and rested his forehead on his knees, his hands on either side of his face. Teddy sat that way for some time, hoping that at any moment he would wake up in the attic and everything would be back to the way it was supposed to be. But when that did not happen, Teddy resigned himself to at least see what the rest of the house looked like and perhaps gather some clues as to how it had changed so quickly.
Trying to ignore the unnatural quiet that lingered in the house, Teddy made his way down to the end of the hall to the room he knew to be a guest room that was never used. No one ever went in there and Teddy hoped that this, at least, would be a familiar sight for him. He grasped the doorknob firmly, turned it, and slowly pushed the door inward. Peeking around the edge of the opening Teddy suddenly let out a strangled yell and slammed door shut before taking several quick steps backward.
"A hippogriff?" he whispered to himself. His voice sounded strangled and hoarse, but loud in the oppressive silence of the house.
Said hippogriff had, thankfully, been sleeping soundly when Teddy had seen it, but not taking any chances that it would wake up, break down the door and come to finish him off Teddy set off for the stairs and continued down to the next level. He stopped halfway down at the most disturbing sight he had ever laid eyes on.
Lining the stairwell were a number of house-elf heads, all severed neatly and put on display. Teddy felt simultaneously panicked and sick to his stomach and he hurried down the rest of the stairs simply to put distance between himself and the terrible visage.
At the bottom of the stairs Teddy collapsed into the corner and buried his face in his hands. "A nightmare, I've wandered into a terrible nightmare and I'll wake up any second. Wake up, Teddy, come on, wake up!"
There was a noise from somewhere below in the house that roused Teddy from his frantic mumbling and he froze, listening. He could just make out the sound of clinking glass and did not know if he should feel hopeful or wary that there was someone else in this decrepit excuse for a house. He sat very still and continued to listen but did not hear the sound again and determined that it was safe at least to stand up.
Carefully, Teddy pulled his wand from his pocket and slowly began to make his way down yet more stairs. He took care not to look too carefully at anything on the walls for fear that he would have another disturbing experience like that with the house-elves. Keeping his wand in front of him, Teddy paused on the stairs that led down to the kitchen when he heard a soft thud. He waited and then heard more clinking glass. There was definitely someone in there.
Taking the last few steps as quietly as he could, Teddy pushed open the door to the kitchen and saw, in the dim, gloomy light, the back of a man seated at a large wooden table. Instantly Teddy caught a whiff of firewhiskey and spied a large glass bottle of the substance on the table. He stood frozen in the doorway, unsure of whether the man in front of him was aware of his presence.
The stranger had long, dark hair, a thin frame, and, Teddy suspected, something of a drinking problem if he was indulging alone in the middle of the day. Though in this sort of house Teddy could scarcely blame him. Grimmauld Place had never seemed less cheerful than it did at that very moment.
Unsure of what to do Teddy continued to stand in the doorway, his wand still in his hand but at his side. He wondered if perhaps he should leave, go back home to his grandmother's house. He hoped that this was all a dream. As he stood there, full or uncertainty, the man on the bench in front of him began to turn around.
Teddy was frozen in place. As the mysterious figure before him turned around to face him, Teddy felt fear creeping up into his chest. He did not recognize the man in front of him, though there was something very familiar about him. He had what must have once been a handsome face that now had a haunted, hollowed look to it. He looked surprised to see Teddy standing there though he did not rise from his seat.
For a moment the two simply stared at each other and then the other man spoke, his voice rough from the firewhiskey.
"Who the hell are you?"
AN. Chapter one of a planned five. I would really appreciate your thoughts.