Notes: For those who ask: this chapter takes place around 1x08 "Baelor," except for the Riverlands movement of the Northern army - Robb never left Winterfell. There was no crossing the Twins, no brokered marriage pact, Umber didn't have his fingers bitten off by Grey Wind, Theon didn't go to his father or betray Robb.
Fancast for older!characters are as follows: Harry Potter (James McAvoy); Ginny Potter (Kate Mara). Bill Weasley (Damian Lewis) and Fleur Delacour-Weasley (Clémence Poésy). Charlie Weasley (Toby Stephens); George Weasley (Rolf Kristian Larsen) and Ron Weasley (Arthur Darvill). Tyrell fancast is the same as Winter Witch: Willas Tyrell - Toby Regbo (Reign, Last Kingdom); and Garlan Tyrell - Timothy Innes (the Last Kingdom). The rest of the Tyrells are their GoT equivalents.
"Those dragons you had me look into? The ones on that Malfoy-Selwyn piece? They don't exist."
Harry looked up from skimming a new Auror report of any Dark magic in Grimmauld Place. Dennis, who handed it to him, quietly slipped away as Charlie Weasley strode through the dark hallway toward the Head Auror, who stood at the door of Hermione's office, just outside it.
"Charlie," greeted Harry, his voice low and strained, nodding once to his brother-in-law. There were significant bags under his eyes and a sickly-looking pallor to his skin, although much of it was covered by a thick, black beard tinged blue in places. "Thanks for coming."
"Of course; Hermione and Teddy are my family, too," he agreed, his dark blue eyes glancing around the messy office. He grimaced, bringing a scarred hand up to rub at his mouth. "Did your Aurors-?"
Harry snorted. "This is all Hermione."
"Merlin," breathed Charlie, looking around as his eyebrows jumped up.
"Yeah," agreed the other man. He sighed and let the hand holding the report drop, crumpling the parchment a bit as he did so. "We've found no traces of Dark magic - beyond what is imbued in the house over time - but we've got a splatter of Teddy's blood by the desk and a bunch of Hermione's research that's been trampled on."
"But?" asked Charlie, a heavy frown settling on his face.
"But," stressed Harry, turning to look in the room, "There were no signs of forced entry or the wards being tampered with. Whatever happened to them, it's internal."
Charlie glanced skeptically at Harry. "You don't think Grimmauld Place ate them?"
Bewildered, Harry turned to stare at Charlie. "Can old magical houses do that?"
Charlie stared back.
A commotion behind them had both men turn from staring at each other to face the noise. Another redhead stepped through the door into the office, his long face taking in the room quickly and professionally, just as the gorgeous blonde behind him muttered, "Mon cher, can you wait?"
"Harry," the man said, eyes landing on him, and then glancing to his right. "Charlie! What brought you here from Romania?"
"Harry," replied Charlie, jerking his chin in the Auror's direction. "I was looking into an engraving of three dragons-"
"Oh, that 'orrible Malfoy-Selwyn piece?" broke in the blonde, tossing her head back. Her lip curled in disgust.
"Hi Bill, Fleur," greeted Harry, remembering his manners, and stepping forward to kiss the cheeks of his brother-in-law's wife. He shook Bill's hand and then stepped back, nearer to Charlie. "Thanks for coming. I wanted two Curse Breakers to look at the room. We think this was where Hermione and Teddy last were."
"C'est vrai," agreed Fleur, her wand already out and casting.
Harry stood back and watched them with Charlie as both husband and wife - a well-known and well-oiled working machine - moved around one another, swishing their wands, or muttering lowly to one another at whatever they found.
Eventually, both stopped by Hermione's desk, frowning, and staring down at it.
"What did you find?" asked Harry, stepping into the room as Charlie loitered behind him, also curious.
"Something… strange," murmured Bill, absently. His frown pulled at his mouth and his face, already long, seemed to pull longer.
Fleur was nodding. "Magic, 'ere, 'Arry. A strange magic - very… 'ow do you say?"
"Ancient," interjected Bill, his voice low.
Harry blinked. "Ancient? Ancient how? Like, ancient, dark magic?"
Fleur shook her head, glancing up at him and Charlie, a frown on her thin lips. "Non. Ancient magic, as in, magic that defies wand-casting."
"Whatever magic Hermione and Teddy stumbled on," added Bill, "It's definitely blood-activated and old. Most of the results we got from our spells didn't recognize it."
"What does that mean?" asked Charlie, crossing his arms tight against his chest. His eyes flicked between his brother and sister-in-law, and then to Harry, before turning back to Bill as he pursed his lips in frustration and annoyance.
Bill made a noise that was part confusion, part whine. "I- I don't know."
"It is like my magic," Fleur tried to explain, bringing her hands up and wringing them slightly. "Creature magic. Old magic - something that is in our bones and soul. Wizard magic… it's in your soul but also in the land. This magic is not ambient - it is - it is in the very being of something."
Harry felt his heart clench in his chest. "Like an object."
"Oui!" Fleur beamed at him.
"Oh. Oh no," sighed Charlie softly, closing his eyes.
Bill slowly stood from his hunch over the desk to glance between the two men. "Charlie? Harry…?"
"The necklace," murmured Harry, just as Bill inhaled sharply through his nose. "I gave Hermione the Selwyn necklace after Charlie looked at it. Because she has the most experience with magic we wouldn't recognize."
Fleur's face paled. "An object - the necklace -"
"Teddy's blood," added Charlie, glancing at the desk and the small splatter, conveniently hidden by Hermione's messy papers. "Part werewolf, part metamorphmagus."
"And old magic," sighed Bill. "It - it must've been a Portkey."
Harry slowly nodded. "But - to where?"
And his family, standing with him in the office in Grimmauld Place, fell silent. Because Hermione and Teddy could be anywhere - and they didn't know where to start looking.
Renly hurried with a brisk walk toward Robert's bed chamber, already wincing as he heard his brother's loud voice call for "more wine and whores," even though the Tyrell Maester had refused Robert either of those since he woke up from his healing sleep.
In the two months since Renly had appeared at Highgarden with Robert's badly hurt and unconscious body, the Tyrells had kept him quiet about events in the outside world - especially with the king of the seven realms lying hurt, and potentially dying, in their ancestral seat.
However, Robert had woken from his sleep only a few days earlier, healing from his wounds. Whatever Hermione Granger had done, thought Renly with relief, it had been enough to help Robert and keep him stable until their arrival at Highgarden for the Maester to take over.
And for that, he would be eternally grateful; even Robert, if he could barely remember the events when Teddy transported him and Renly to Hermione's rooms at King's Landing, knew that he owed Ned and Hermione for some reason, and was increasing his demands to speak and see them.
"-demands are met!" bellowed Robert as Renly stepped into his room. His brother was sitting up in bed, the bandages around his stomach and side barely tinged with red but rather sweet-smelling poultice and cream. He was bare-chested, and the red in his face crept down his chest as he shook a weak fist at Mace Tyrell, who blubbered something in response.
The rest of the man's family stood behind him: his eldest and heir, Willas had a stoic look on his face, one his younger brother Garlan shared; but Loras' lit up as Renly stepped in the room, as did Margaery's - the two were closest in age to him, and the three were close friends as a result. At Mace's side in the first line of fire, stood his wife, and his mother; it was his mother, Olenna, who boldly rolled her eyes at the King's demands.
"Robert," breathed Renly, stepping forward.
Robert's head swung around to the other side, eyes squinting at his youngest brother.
"Renly," he said gruffly. "Tell these snot-nosed whoresons that I demand to speak to my Hand! Where's Ned? I need to see him. He needs to tell me what's going on."
Olenna sighed. "And as I was trying to tell the King, Lord Renly - Lord Stark is unavailable to make the journey to Highgarden-"
Renly blinked. "Wait - what?"
The rude phrase made Olenna blink while Loras hid a smirk behind his hand at the familiar words uttered by a confused Teddy.
Noticing the reaction the Tyrell matriarch had, Renly cleared his throat and, tugging on his tunic, tried again. "My apologies, Lady Tyrell. I meant - I beg your pardon. Could you please elaborate? This is the first I've heard of the news from King's Landing as well." He added the last part for Robert's benefit, glancing at his eldest brother as he did so.
Both Baratheons then turned their attention fully to the first line of Tyrells; the combined blue-eyed stare had Mace visibly sweating.
"Erm, Your Grace - that is to say, I am sorry to inform you-" began Mace, doing his best to avoid wringing his hands nervously, "But your Hand, Eddard Stark, was arrested shortly after you… erm… arrived here."
"What?" barked Robert, narrowing his eyes. "Rubbish! Who'd arrest Ned? And on what suspicions?"
"From what we can understand," began Willas, stepping forward and smoothly taking over for his father, who gratefully sighed and bowed back, stepping away from the king's bed, "He was arrested under the orders of your wife, for treason. Along with his arrest was that of his mistress-"
"Granger?" broke in Robert, completely baffled. He glanced at Renly, who shrugged.
Willas blinked. "Er, yes, the Lady Granger, I suppose - and orders were sent to arrest the remainder of the household."
Robert stared at Willas for a long moment as Renly sucked in a sharp breath. He took an aborted step forward, his knees hitting Robert's bed just as he reached forward, clenching and twisting the bedsheets. "The household? What of Lady Sansa and Lady Arya? Lord Bran? Teddy?"
His panicked eyes flitted between Willas, Robert, Olenna, and Loras, who looked down, cheeks red.
"Two of the children were taken hostage," said Willas, glancing between Renly and Loras. "Although we don't know which. Two others disappeared shortly thereafter." He paused, then gentling his voice. "Half of the household was butchered in the ensuing arrest. The Lannisters state they resisted arrest and therefore were killed during the battle, but those were household servants, not knights or guards. The other half went missing, including their captain of the household."
"Seven hells," breathed Robert, the heat in his eyes fading away as he turned his thoughts inward. "What was Cersei thinking?"
"Probably that you were dead," groused Renly between gritted teeth as he unclenched his hands from the bedsheets. "I warned Ned, I did - that evening - that we had to take Joffrey and the other children from her as leverage, but he refused-"
Robert sighed, loudly and noisily. "Of course, he did."
"And then he went on some - some rant about Joffrey not being yours," continued Renly, blindly while everyone in the room froze, their eyes darting between an unaware Renly and stupefied Robert. "But Hermione kept saying it was conjecture - or something, I barely remember now - but Ned was sure of it-"
The low rumble made Renly snap his mouth shut and stare at his brother. The King's complexion had turned ruddy, and his blue eyes had darkened as anger burned through him. The hands on top of the bedsheets trembled and the man clenched his large hands shut.
"Renly," the King continued, his voice a rough growl, but he was interrupted as a knock on the door to his chambers echoed throughout the room. A guard stepped in, took stock of the room, and swallowed visibly.
"What is it?" bit out Olenna, eyes flashing as he glanced at him.
"M-My Lord, Your Grace," the man stuttered, his darting around the room and the thick tension, "There is a visitor here for Lord Loras and Lord Renly. He says his name is-"
"Teddy!" burst from both Loras and Renly's mouths; both relieved.
The guard blinked. "Erm, yes, a young Lord Edward Granger, here to speak with you about His Grace-"
"Ned's boy is here?" some of the anger retreated from Robert's face and voice. Gruffly, he added with a shaky wave of his arm, "Bring him here."
"At once, Your Grace," the guard hastily bowed and retreated.
"Who is this boy?" Mace's wife, Alerie, whispered.
"Sshh, woman," hissed Mace, although his eyes were wide, and it was less censure to keep silent than it was to not miss what was to come.
Teddy appeared in the doorway of the room, wide-eyed as he took in the splendor of the Tyrell's rich furnishings and gold-coloured furniture, and the rich fabrics that the Tyrells - directly in his line of sight - wore.
His voice squeaked as he began, tentatively, "Hi? I'm - I'm here to speak to King Robert?"
He was dressed differently to what Renly and Loras were used to, and Renly knew immediately that he was one of the two that had escaped the Lannister's attack. Teddy wore very plain clothes, although with his usual flair: streamlined black trousers tucked into supple, leather boots that emphasized his long legs, and a dark grey tunic with a white vest piped with matching grey.
And on top of that all was a thick black - coat, Renly thought he heard Teddy call it once before when he wore something similar in King's Landing - that was rimmed with white fur around the collar. It came to rest around his waist, leaving his belt visible with its open design. It was a heavy, dark, and thick ensemble that indicated that wherever Teddy escaped to, it wasn't south, but rather, to the North.
Before Renly could even step forward to greet his friend - one of his best friends, he was sure of it, along with Loras, as Teddy held a special place in his heart - Robert bit out, "Granger. Come here."
Wide-eyed, Teddy nodded a bit unsurely and inched forward to come to stand next to Renly. His voice rose another octave when he stuttered, "Y-Your Grace."
"Tell me what is happening," demanded Robert, his voice hard and steady, despite the shallow look to him. "What happened to Ned?"
Teddy's eyes darted around the room, lighting on the Tyrells whom he hadn't been introduced to for a moment before Robert snapped, "Don't look at them, boy, look at me! At your King! I asked a question, and you will answer it."
Teddy jumped. "Ah, yes, Your Grace. Sorry," he muttered, embarrassed, looking down and then back at the man he once imitated through his abilities.
Renly blinked and narrowed his eyes at his friend. Had… had his black hair turned a bit red? No - surely it was my imagination. Or a trick of the sun. He's standing in a sunbeam.
"Where would you like me to begin?" Teddy asked instead, peeking at Robert from under his floppy hair. Robert had lost some weight since becoming bedridden, with some extra flab around his arms and middle.
"When your father was arrested," grunted Robert, leaning back heavily against his pillows.
"I didn't learn this until later, but he and my - my mother were arrested together," began Teddy, his voice quiet but sure and steady. "It was late at night at the time, so they were taken quietly and without any of the household knowing. I was with Jory Cassel-"
"Ned's head of the household," interrupted Robert. "The captain."
"Yes, Your Grace," replied Teddy with a short nod. "We met up on the steps heading to Ned's - erm," he paused, glancing around the room in a quick, rabbit-like panic despite no one missing the familiar address, "Lord Stark's solar. We both realized that his bed chambers were unused and his solar was dark when we arrived, assuming the worst. Upon entering, we had a few moments to hide before the city guards appeared, searching the room. Their swords were already red with blood, so I can only assume that the arrests began at dawn as they systematically went from room to room in the Hand's Tower."
Robert's face drifted from annoyed to hard as Teddy continued, leaving only a very kingly visage.
"Jory and I agreed to separate; he'd tried to get as many of the guards and household staff out while I went looking for Lady Sansa, Lady Arya, and Lord Bran-"
"Did you find them?" asked Robert.
Teddy shook his head. "Sansa and Bran were already taken by the time I got to their rooms, but Jeyne - Sansa's handmaiden - had hidden away and was safe. I then went looking for Arya, who was with her dancing master. I got there in time to help fight off the guards who appeared, and we escaped together."
"Where did you go?" asked a different voice. Teddy turned away from the King to face Mace Tyrell, who looked rather taken with the tale of intrigue and death.
Teddy cleared his throat. "Back to the Inn, I stayed in with my mother when we first arrived. We had barely been there before staying in the Red Keep - so I doubted many remembered. It was a good idea, anyway - Hermione and Ned met us there."
This caused the room to stir in surprise.
"Ned?" asked Robert, struggling to sit up a bit in the bed from the pillows. "Ned escaped?"
Teddy winced. "Not quite."
Robert snarled. "Explain!"
"He and Hermione were taken to the dungeons, but um," Teddy glanced around the room before sighing and saying, "It's not exactly hard for my mother to escape dungeons. She kind of does it regularly."
Several confused - and two amused faces from Renly and Loras - stared back at Teddy. Even Robert's bark had dwindled to confusion.
Seeing no other way around it, Teddy sighed. "Hermione's an explorer. Academically inclined, of course," he added, turning to face Willas and Garlan, "which was why she wanted to be introduced and visit the Citadel. All my life, she's been all over the place, visiting people and hunting down information and relics regarding her research. And sometimes that means upsetting people?" Teddy cringed. "So, she often ends up in dungeons. She makes it a game now to escape them."
Robert blinked once, twice, and then snorted. The snorts turned into laughter as his bare belly shook and he threw his head back. Tears leaked down the side of his face as he clutched at his chest and winded, he wheezed, "N-Ned's p-p-partner isn't as hon-honourable as h-he is, it seems."
Teddy tried to not take offense to that - Hermione was honourable! She always wanted to do what was right! Just look at the house-elves! But… she was morally... flexible, as he was learning.
"Anyway," called Teddy loudly over the King's chuckles, "They managed to escape, meet with us at the Inn, and from there we returned to Winterfell, where Robb - Lord Robb, that is - called the banners. Ned's got them to stand down for the moment, though. He sent me here to check in with you."
Still shaking a bit with laughter, Robert let it trail off as his mirth retreated.
"Good," the man said instead, taking a few deep breaths, a hand fluttering at his side where his wound was. Some darker red was seeping through the bandages. "I need to see Ned right away-" he turned to Renly, "And for you to call our banners, and send a raven to Stannis-"
Flustered, Teddy interrupted, knowing that he was committing a major faux pas. "Ned suggested caution."
Around the room, the Tyrells froze at a blatant error, and Margaery's brown eyes grew large. Renly hissed and took a step toward Teddy as if to shield him.
Robert's frown turned into a heavy scowl. But when he merely muttered, "of course Ned would say that", the Tyrells turned to Teddy in speculation, with new, assessing eyes.
"I'm happy to play messenger," continued Teddy, feeling a bit more secure as he rocked on his heels a bit. "I'm much safer than a raven for sensitive documents."
"Aye, lad, that you are," muttered Robert.
Willas' eyes narrowed on his youngest brother's friend, raking him up and down as he thought back to all the stories he had heard about Teddy Granger for the past five months - while at his side, Garlan crossed his arms and glared. Willas let out an inaudible sigh and nudged his brother, causing Garlan's own frown to slip from his face in reply.
"I want Ned here, immediately," continued Robert, his voice taking on a hard, commanding edge to it. "We need to discuss our next steps together."
"At once, Your Grace," said Mace, eager to integrate himself into the King's council. "I can have our fastest ships sent to the White Harbour-"
"Teddy can do it," interjected Renly, blinking in surprise as the words left his mouth, unbidden. Even Teddy turned to stare at him in surprise. "He can send the message and then Lord Stark can get himself here instead. Sending ships to the North when you rarely do is a giant sign to the Lannisters, Lord Tyrell."
Mace looked ready to protest, but Willas nodded. "Astute observation, Lord Renly, and a fair point. Lord Edward-"
"Really, 'Teddy' is fine-"
"-can return North and bring Lord Stark here," continued the heir to Highgarden smoothly.
Robert breathed heavily through his nose. "Cersei will learn I am not dead. The whelp is not King, nor will he ever be." He sent a beady glare at his brother. "Don't think what you said before Teddy arrived is forgotten, Renly. I will address that with Ned. But if the Lannisters want a war, we'll give them war!"
Teddy winced and began to wring his hands in front, biting his bottom lip a bit. "I'm pretty sure Hermione and Ned - erm, Lord Stark - think something else is going on, Your Grace."
"Like what?" Robert frowned heavily.
"Like… someone else pulling the strings to make you fight the Lannisters," began the wizard haltingly, eyes looking around the room as the Tyrells all stared back at him in varying degrees of surprise, suspicion, or in Olenna's case, amusement. Teddy shivered. "I'm not saying what Joffrey did was good - I don't condone it - but something else is going on. It might be best to let things lie as they are until we discover what other plots are occurring."
"What an excellent idea," the reigning Tyrell woman beamed at Teddy. Teddy, fearing for his cheeks - as it looked like she wanted to pinch them - took a very quick, tiny step toward Renly for protection.
However, Robert's frustration at his wound and inactivity boiled over. "And I just sit here?!"
Teddy nodded. "And rest up and consider this a bit of a vacation from being king while others play spy and figure out the mystery of what's going on."
Robert snorted. "Play spy, hmm? Very well - but not for too long. There's something on the air; I smell it. Something is coming and we need to prepare."
Nervously, Renly asked, "For what?"
"Blood, death, destruction… a war is brewing, and it'll be a feast for crows, that much I can tell you," finished Robert soberly, causing the room to still.
As he leaned back, clearly tired, Willas took control of the room and ushered his parents out, while Olenna linked arms with Margaery. The willowy brunette followed her parents, but at the door, glanced back over her shoulder to send a rather coquettish look at Teddy, who froze, and then blushed a vibrant red.
Loras immediately rushed over to Renly and Teddy, boldly pulling Renly from the room while Garlan followed behind, a scowl on his face.
As they left the room, Teddy turned to the other three and asked, nervously, "What's - What's a feast for crows?"
"Exactly what it sounds like," bit back Garlan, tossing his head a bit and letting his dirty blond curls bounce from the long, rakish style he sported. "Lots of dead bodies for the birds to eat. A variety, a buffet, a veritable feast."
Teddy blanched, gagging a bit. "Oh, wonderful."
Teddy remained in Highgarden for two nights, with his days spent either with King Robert, writing note after note of what the King wanted Ned to know, or with Loras and Renly. Loras enjoyed showing off his childhood home, finally on his turf, but was not about to let Teddy slack with his training. That meant every morning, Teddy was out in the training courtyard, Renly off to the side as Loras took him through the paces with his old swordmaster, who spent most of their time together barking corrections at the young wizard.
Sometimes, Willas and Garlan would appear, Willas leaning heavily on his wooden cane as he limped from place to place, while Garlan had a wide smirk paired with his crossed arms, taking enjoyment as Teddy got hit with another rap of the flat of the blade, causing him to cry out, "Ow!"
So, three days later, despite enjoying his time with Loras and Renly, Teddy was very happy to return to Winterfell.
"You'll be careful, won't you?" fretted Renly, tugging a bit on the collar of Teddy's coat, which he modelled after a fighter pilot's leather jacket.
"I'll be fine," Teddy replied with an eye roll.
"It's a dangerous journey-" continued Renly.
"Oh, for the Mother's sake, Ren," sighed Loras, from where he sat nearby, "I think Teddy will be fine."
Renly pursed his lips in annoyance but stepped back and nodded. There was something in his eyes, however, and Teddy wondered if Renly wanted to get him alone to speak to him about what happened the day Robert was hurt. "Very well."
"You won't even miss me," teased Teddy, stepping back as well, toward the entrance hall's large doors and garden entryway. "And Ned'll be here soon enough, too."
Renly hummed, either in agreement or to shut Teddy up; he wasn't sure. But they waved him off, and Teddy left Highgarden through their thick, grey-stone gate with creeping vines that wrapped up and around the wrought-iron spokes and between mortar cracks, looking like something out of a Disney fairy-tale castle.
A battered flagstone road wound its way down into a nearby town around Highgarden, but Teddy veered off the path into a small cluster of trees once he was out of sight from Highgarden. He then spun on his heel and with a loud crack disappeared, and reappeared, just outside Wintertown.
Except this time, he was half-submerged in a snowbank, and he spent thirty minutes cursing everything and anything under the Westerosi moon as he struggled against the snow to escape the hip-deep prison.
Miserable and wet - although that was taken care of with a quick drying charm - Teddy stomped his way past Wintertown, still muttering under his breath an hour later as he arrived at Winterfell's gates.
"Halt! Who goes?" one of the guards called, making the wizard stop.
"It's Teddy," he called back, frustration still bleeding through his voice. When the guards didn't seem to move, Teddy's frustration boiled over and he found himself snapping, "Teddy Granger. You know? Son of Hermione Granger and Ned Stark?"
The two guards shared a look and then stepped aside quickly, one rapping on the closed wooden door of the exterior gate. Somewhere behind, inside, a winch clanked and the portcullis behind the wooden door began to rise as the guard peeled back the wood on well-oiled hinges.
Having left for Highgarden rather quickly after their arrival to Winterfell, Teddy hadn't had the opportunity to learn the layout of the large, imposing structure. Winterfell was very different to Hogwarts, but if he could learn to map that school without the Marauder's Map, with its moving staircases and doors that would only show up on every second Tuesday of a given month, he was certain he'd learn his way around Winterfell eventually as well.
Unfortunately, that day was not today, and he stopped the first servant he saw for directions.
"Hey, sorry to bother," he began, making the young man's eyes widen at the tone and words, "I'm looking for Ned - Lord Stark. Do you know where he is right now? Or Hermione Granger?"
"Lord Stark is in his solar," the servant replied, after a long moment of open-mouth gaping. "Two floors up and down the hall, second door on your left."
"Two up, down the hall, left second door," muttered Teddy, and then twice more for good measure until he was sure he had it down. "Thank you."
The servant bowed. "Of course, Lord Edward-"
"Oh, not you, too!" the teen groaned. "Teddy. Please, it's just Teddy."
The servant swallowed, making his prominent Adam's apple bob in his throat as he stuttered in reply, "O-of course, Lord T-Teddy."
Well, the teen thought, it's better than 'the Great Wizard Harry Potter Sir'! I'll take it.
With a sigh, Teddy turned and followed the servant's directions while he scuttled off, presumably to continue with his duties and no doubt gossip with the rest of the staff at how bizarre Teddy was.
The door to Ned's solar was closed, as per his habit - it was the same in King's Landing when he was the Hand and in the room. There was a single guard at the door, unfortunately not Jory, which made Teddy wince. He had no idea where the man was, or who he managed to save from the household staff. Were they even able to make their way North? The journey was going to be far more perilous for them than it was for those they managed to save with their magic.
However, this guard seemed to recognize him and nodded, a quick dip of his head, before knocking on the door.
A sharp, "enter!" had the guard opening the door for Teddy. Inside, a fire warmed the neat room, casting a glow on even the furthest recess. Bright winter light spilled in from mullioned windows, backlighting Ned as he sat behind his large desk. Hermione sat in a comfortable chair, kitty-corner to the desk, nearest the fireplace, while Robb sat in another opposite her. Jon stood just behind and to the side of Robb's chair, and all four in the room looked at Teddy when he entered.
"Teddy?" goggled Jon, eyes wide.
"You're back already?" added Robb, his own mouth dropping open.
"Ted," greeted Ned, a quirk of his lips indicating his own happiness as he rose from behind his desk, but it was Hermione who reached him first, throwing her arms around Teddy's shoulders and hugging him tightly.
Teddy squirmed a bit in her embrace but stood still as he endured her pampering, which then turned into mothering as she led him to her vacant chair and pushed him into it. Teddy sighed gratefully, soaking in the warmth of the fireplace and comfiness of the chair as he did so. His eyes closed for the barest of moments before he sat up again and faced Ned.
"I have letters for you," he finally said, "From the King."
Ned's dark eyes lit up. "Excellent! Thank you, Ted." He paused as Teddy reached inside his jacket and pulled out the letter from a magically enlarged pocket. "How is he?"
"Healing," answered Teddy, also glancing at the other teenagers in the room, making sure they were included in the conversation. He handed over the letters into Ned's hands. "And really, really, bored."
"Sounds about right," muttered Ned, already scanning through the letters, finding one from Robert, another from Mace Tyrell, and another from Renly. He moved to open Renly's first.
"But—" sputtered Robb, looking at Teddy in confusion. "How – how did you get to Highgarden and back in… in a week?"
"Oh," blushed Teddy, reading censure in Robb's tone rather than awe. "I would've been back a few days ago, but Loras and Renly wanted to me to do some training…"
"Ted, I think he's more surprised at the speed," interrupted Hermione with a grin.
"Oh." Teddy cut Hermione a glance. Were they-? They had used magic to get the Starks safely out of King's Landing, and he had used magic on Jory and the other servants who managed to escape, but Ned hadn't announced Teddy's leaving in front of the large group of bannermen, and the Statute of Secrecy was something Teddy grew up upholding. To throw that away now was a bit strange.
It seemed that was part of a conversation between Hermione and Ned given the eyes they were making at one another, making Teddy highly uncomfortable; Robb was flushed very red and looking determinedly at the floor, while Jon was openly gapping between the two.
Finally, Ned cleared his throat and said, "As you may have guessed… Hermione and Teddy are… um, magic."
"Magic," repeated Robb, both his eyebrows shooting up.
"I'm a witch," explained Hermione patiently. "And Teddy is a wizard."
"Like… potions and blood magic?" asked Jon cautiously, a frown on his face.
"I didn't do too well in potions," admitted Teddy. "But I'm pretty good at charms and defense against the dark arts."
"And anything dealing with blood is, well…" Hermione trailed off, making a face. "It's considered the Dark Arts. Also, illegal. Anyone caught practicing blood magic would go to Azkaban."
"What's Azkaban?" asked Robb, leaning forward a bit in eagerness.
"A prison," answered Ned to Robb and Jon's surprise, causing both teens to turn to him. "Not somewhere anyone would want to go, anyway. It's guarded by… what did you call them, Hermione?"
"Dementors," shivered Teddy. "They suck all the happiness out of a person when they're around."
"They're wraiths," added Hermione for Jon and Robb's benefit. "But they also perform something called the Dementor's Kiss – which essentially sucks the soul from a person. Only thing that can drive them off is a patronus. You can't kill them."
Robb reeled back in disgust.
Hermione caught the move and gave Robb a thin-lipped, solemn smile. "Magic can be wondrous. But it, like many other things, has a darker side to it."
Jon, thankfully, steered the conversation elsewhere. "Like travelling so quickly?"
"It's called Apparation!" enthused Teddy. "You think of where you want to go, fix it in your mind, and then pop! You're there."
"Teddy is minimizing the steps and dangers involved, but essentially, yes," sighed Hermione. "And it's not individual. We can Side-Along with others."
"Which is how you got here," finished Robb, understanding spreading across his face, thinking back to their arrival in the inner bailey.
"And how we're getting to Highgarden," added Ned. He had spent the time they were talking of magic reading Renly and Robert's letters. "I must speak with Robert. Renly has been… straightforward about how his brother has been spending his recovery."
Ned turned to Robb and Jon, eyeing them both before turning to Robb. "When I'm gone, you're the Stark in Winterfell. That means you are in charge. Sansa will help of course, as will Maester Luwin, but you will be in charge of ensuring the safety and care of those within Winterfell's gates. Keep the bannermen docile – as much as you can – and keep them from doing anything stupid. Wait for my return."
"With if something happens while you're gone?" asked Robb, swallowing thickly. The last time his father went south... "A raven would take too long to get to you if you're in the Reach!"
Ned turned to Teddy, who nodded. "I can use a patronus to send a message. I did it before. It'll go straight to the recipient without fail, and it's much quicker than any raven."
Robb sized Teddy up, as though checking if he were telling the truth, and then finally nodded, once, slowly.
After that, things moved quickly; Ned planned with Luwin and several other of his bannermen he trusted as he informed them where he was going – with Hermione along as his ride and because she wanted to check on Robert and his healing – while making sure everyone knew that Robb would be in charge while he was gone.
Robb, for his part, did his best to appear as stern and strong as his father as he ran after him, always at his elbow, as Ned finished his preparations, so he could receive last-minute instructions from the Lord. However, the sickly grey pallor to his face had everyone knowing how worried he was: he had been the Stark in Winterfell once before, and while on the seat, his father had nearly died.
In the end, Ned and Hermione planned on leaving in a pre-dawn morning a few days later. Teddy was there to see her off, as was Robb, Jon, Sansa, Arya, and Bran. Theon, Luwin, and Syrio were off to the side, watching the emotional Stark children crowd their father, begging him to be safe and asking him to promise to return safely.
"I'd say be safe, but we both know you'll find some kind of trouble," said Teddy to Hermione with a tiny smirk, even as he buried his hands in his jacket pockets.
"Trouble? Me? Who do you think I am, Ted? Harry?" quipped Hermione with a grin. She then softened the smile and hugged the young wizard.
"You be safe here, too," she murmured to him.
Teddy squeezed Hermione and stepped back, glancing as Jon hovered awkwardly, looking like he wanted to keep her at his side and never let go, to wanting to run away as soon as she glanced at him.
Instead, Teddy cleared his throat and said, "I'll – ah, go – um, say my goodbyes to Ned."
Jon stepped up, looking everywhere but at her. Finally, he caught her eyes and muttered, "Mother…"
"Oh, c'mere, you," sighed Hermione, reaching forward and drawing Jon to her, hugging him tightly.
He went stiff for a moment, and then gratefully sank into her embrace, hands clutching tightly at the back of her travelling jacket. He practically crushed Hermione to him, nearly shaking from emotion.
"Please be safe," he muttered into her hair. He seemed terrified, his dark eyes wide and his pale face paler than normal. "I just found you – I don't—"
"I'm not planning on doing anything more dangerous than possibly engaging the infamous Olenna Tyrell into a conversation of wit," replied Hermione, drawing back enough to look Jon in the face. She ran a hand over his cheek, pressing enough so that the feeling grounded him.
He sighed, eyes fluttering closed. "I heard that's rather dangerous."
Hermione stifled a snort. "Watch over Ted, would you?"
"Teddy?" gapped Jon, slowly drawing back from Hermione's arms. "But – he's older – shouldn't he be watching me?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Remember what I said? He finds trouble. This is your home. He doesn't know it, despite whatever nonsense Renly and Loras filled his head with. Just make sure he doesn't… gosh, I don't know. Find a dragon or something. He's unerringly good at doing stupid things like that."
Jon chuckled, a bit wetly, but nodded.
"Hermione?" called Ned, and Hermione stepped further away from Jon, backing up until she turned and went to Ned's side.
Jon took a moment to survey the two, burning the image of both into his brain: Ned, tall, Northern and strong with his dark hair and long face. Hermione, curly-haired with high cheekbones and a sense of worldliness to her that Ned lacked. Jon could see similarities of himself in both, and a glance at Teddy showed the hair, the eyes, and height.
My family, he thought, even as his eyes swept over Robb, Sansa, Arya, and Bran. A warm feeling spread through his chest.
"We're off then," said Hermione, looping her arm through Ned's. Her light brown – amber – eyes sparkled when they lingered on Robb, Jon, and Teddy as the latter two moved to stand alongside the other Stark children. Her mouth curled up into a smile. "Don't burn down the castle while we're gone."
"Hermione!" groaned Teddy.
Ned's face was one of confusion even as, somehow, their bodies twisted and swirled, and then they disappeared with a loud pop. Jon turned to Teddy, gapping at him, even as the older teen buried his face in his hands.
"What was that about?" asked Robb, trying very hard not to smile.
Teddy's groan was louder. "I swear to Merlin – I blow up one potions experiment and she never lets me live it down! It was entirely contained in the room, and yet Hermione makes it out like I was deliberately trying to burn down the house."
Jon bit his lip and turned away before Teddy could see it.
"Well," interrupted Luwin, looking like he wasn't sure how to take Teddy's revelation, "Arya. Bran? We have lessons. After that's done, Arya, you can have your dancing lessons with Forel."
Arya groaned, beginning for her lessons now, even as Bran caught her arm and dragged her toward the Maester, Syrio Forel following behind with a smirk on his face. Sansa nodded at Robb, sweeping into a curtsey, and then leaving to begin her duties as the Lady of Winterfell, leaving Teddy, Robb, Jon, and Theon behind.
The four young men stood around in the courtyard, Robb and Theon eyeing Teddy (although, in Theon's case, blearily). Teddy seemed to realize he was in their sights, and turned to them, a slightly nervous look to him.
"So," mimicked Theon, his voice rough and hoarse from being barely awake, although it was still as arrogant as usual. "The other Stark."
Something flashed across Teddy's face. He then threw his shoulders back a bit, standing straighter. He was taller than Theon, and it showed. Despite being unsure – given this was really the first time he had been left alone to speak to Robb, Jon, and Theon – Teddy repeated, "So," and licked his lips nervously. His eyes flicked at Jon, and then away, at Robb and Theon.
"What do you do around here for fun?"
Theon's grin turned into a smirk. "Oh, Granger… you're asking the right man."
It was Jon's turn to groan, even as Robb snickered.
"Let's get something to eat to break our fast," began Theon, throwing his arm across Teddy's shoulders as he began leading the older teen into the castle, "And then – well. I hope you can keep up with me."