Two years into her marriage, Hermione Granger-Weasley came home early one afternoon to find her husband in bed with Orla Quirke. The Accio spell on Ronald’s testicles was only temporary - the divorce was quick and final.
Almost as if jinxed, Ron’s fortunes as an up-and-coming Auror began to sink like a stone. And since success was always the best revenge, Hermione took the greatest pleasure in surpassing her now ex-husband at the DMLE. With her brains, cunning and brand new ruthlessness – her rise through the ranks was meteoric. Out in the field, the soubriquet “Nutcutter” Granger was enough to instill terror in the most hardened criminal.
“But not hard for long,” became the running joke at the Ministry…when the brunette Auror was out of earshot. When she did hear the jokes, Hermione hardly cared. It actually added to her tough-as-nails reputation, which was all for the good. Even Harry assured her she’d probably make Chief Auror by the age of thirty-five. (A goal which held little allure for The Man Who Lived. The green-eyed hero had discovered his true calling as a mediwizard. It was quite the publicity coup for Saint Mungo’s. )
Neither of them had any idea of the plot forming in the mind of their favorite proxy-child.
At the ripe old age of eleven Teddy Remus Lupin decided that when he grew up he would marry Hermione Granger. He loved her because she was beautiful, brilliant and kind. The difference in their ages was bullshit.
He was not stupid enough to think she’d take him seriously – yet. He knew the wait would be long and painful, but in the end they would be together. Really. The feeling was just so certain…so inevitable. He must have some Seer blood in him. Teddy was convinced they were destined for each other – okay, like in a non-stalkery way.
Even though he had grown up with a loving grandmother, an affectionate godfather and a veritable constellation of Weasleys determined to coddle him – Teddy Lupin was still defined by the wartime death of both his parents. No matter what else he was doing, no matter how happy he might have been at that particular moment – he was always aware of a missing piece of himself.
It was an ache that only another orphan could understand. It didn't matter how much his Grandma Andromeda loved him. It didn't matter how much Uncle Harry nurtured him. Actually, as an orphan himself, Harry understood his feelings completely. There would always be an emptiness in his heart where his own parents should have been. In fact, when Teddy arrived at Hogwarts for his first year, he entered a school filled with war orphans. They all tended to band together – despite their different Houses.
At Hogwarts, Teddy felt like he finally belonged. Everything else would happen in its time. He could wait.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
MADAME PUDDIFOOT’S, 2016…
“Teddy. I’m too old for you.”
“I turn eighteen in May,” he protested.
“Darling boy, I’m flattered,” Hermione sighed, “But obviously, this is a manifestion of your search for a mother figure. The Freudians call it ‘transference.’”
“No, it isn’t.”
“This is simply an adolescent infatuation. You’ll get over it, sweetheart.”
“I won’t argue about this, Hermione. I’ve presented my case. I’ve confessed my feelings. They will not change.”
“Teddy, “ she rose from the table. “There are so many lovely young girls out there – just waiting for you to make the first move - Ally Longbottom, Winifred Boot, Victoire Weasley…”
“And have I ever shown interest in any of these paragons? “.
“I’m thirty-six years old.” Hermione’s voice had a tone of finality that he knew so well.
All he could do was smile, that same sad, charming smile that supposedly was just like his father’s. “Next year, when you’re thirty-seven, I’ll ask again.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
FIORELLO FORTESCUE’S, 2023
“For the last time, Teddy…absolutely not!”
Teddy looked hopeful. “Aha!”
“I’m encouraged – that wasn’t a definitive no.”
“Yes, it was. Most certainly.”
“No, Hermione. Each year, your refusals become less and less enthusiastic! You’re starting to weaken, ergo, aha!!”
“Will you ever give up?”
Teddy’s grin lit up his face. His hair turned the distinctive electric blue it always turned when he was happy. It made him look utterly adorable, and rather handsome.
Oh, hell, Hermione was thinking. He truly has grown into a lovely man. But she could only shake her head. “It’s also inappropriate. I am your superior, after all.”
“Yes!” Teddy punched the air with his fist. “You’ve dropped the age argument, and gone for the old boss/subordinate chestnut!” With a flourish, he drew out a folded parchment. “I hereby present my resignation from the Aurors-“
“The Minister has already approved my request for transfer to the Department of Magical Games and Sports.”
“Those morons? Those idiots? All they do is drink and play gobstones all day! It’s utterly beneath you!” she sputtered. “You’re one of the most gifted aurors on my staff! I’ll bloody kill Kingsley!”
Teddy beamed. “You think I’m gifted?”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
THE LEAKY CAULDRON, 2025…
Her body was always a revelation to him. She was exquisitely curved, with skin like silk – everything Teddy had ever fantasized. Now, after an hour of frenzied love-making, with her eyes shining – he knew he had raised the bar for happiness.
Hermione stretched out a long leg and brushed her bare toes against his thigh. “I could sleep for the rest of the afternoon, but honestly! There are still all those end of the month budget reports-“
Teddy returned her sleepy, sated smile. “Speaking strictly off the record, this certainly beats a Conference Floo with the South American Quidditch League.” He leaned over and pressed his lips against the flushed nape of her neck.
“Teddy! You didn’t cancel them, did you? That’s very unprofessional!” She tried to sound outraged, but being naked tended to mute the effect.
“In point of fact, they cancelled at the last minute,” He grinned mischievously. “Had you going though, didn’t I?” He reached over to the ice bucket and poured another glass of champagne. “As if I wouldn’t completely clear my work calendar on our Anniversary.”
It had taken every last ounce of charm and persuasiveness to finally get Hermione to give him a chance. Grandma Andromeda had done her part by sincerely announcing her approval. Teddy was the kind of man who loved only once in his life, and he loved her. The older witch was convinced that her grandson’s love was pure and unshakable. He would never be happy with anyone else but Hermione.
Still, in the end, it took the combined efforts of Harry, Kingsley, Neville, and Minerva to wear down her resistance by reminding Hermione that wizards and witches aged differently. When she turned sixty, she’d probably look thirty-five. In time, the eighteen-year age difference would shrink to practically nothing.
They had been lovers for exactly twelve months. The best time of Teddy’s life. Once she finally let herself go, Hermione showed an astonishing level of passion. During their intensive lovemaking sessions, it was often Teddy who tired first.
“This begs the question.” He wrapped the sheet around his bare body and watched her get dressed. He watched as she slowly transformed from his exquisite siren back into the hardcore work persona of Britain’s Chief Auror. “When are you finally going to say ‘yes’”?
She fastened the silver clasps of her black robes. “Well, dear, I believe I’ve just finished saying yes several times. “
“Ha-ha. That’s my Hermione.” Teddy bounded from the bed and almost careened into the nightstand. “Oh, my head!” he groaned.
“Exactly how much champagne have you had, honey?”
“Um, are you kidding? This is a party! Um, except you’re rushing back to work and don’t think I haven't noticed you changing the subject. Deft, my dearest Chief, deft!”
Hermione gently brushed the fading blue hair from his eyes. “Can’t things stay the way they are, Teddy? It’s been so…perfect.”
There it was again. The age thing. He knew it for what it was. She was still too embarrassed to publicly acknowledge their relationship…never mind marriage. He sighed, and finished his champagne. “One day, I’m going to stop asking!”
Teddy smiled back sadly. “Nah, I won’t. I’ll keep asking until we’re as old as the bloody Flamels. How ludicrous will the age difference look then?”
“I’m sorry. I just can’t.” Hermione hugged him almost guiltily and with a final kiss, left the room.
“You married that stupid wanker Ron, though!” Teddy muttered at the closed door. That red-headed prick. It gave him smug satisfaction to think of the former auror, now working Security at a puffskein petting zoo in Manchester.
A few more glasses of champagne and he felt a good deal better. Hermione truly loved him. He’d wear her down eventually. With a cocky grin that Harry often declared was rather Marauder-ish, Teddy dressed himself and trotted downstairs towards the floo connection.
He was still pretty lightheaded from the champagne, but what the heck. If Hermie was going to return to the office and get all her paperwork done before the weekend – he could do that! Yet another way to impress her with his maturity and anal work ethic. Yes! Another brilliant idea! Score!
There was a crowd of people clustered around one of the two fireplaces in the main lounge of The Cauldron. They all seemed rather annoyed.
“Sorry, you’ll all have to wait your turn, “ a very harried Tom declared. “They’ve shut down this one.”
“There was an accident on the other end,” confided a hag with a delighted whisper. “A witch blew up!”
A dark foreboding chilled him. “What other end?”
“You know, the Ministry,” came a smug cackle. “Inept idiots!”
In a full-blown panic now, Teddy shoved everyone else aside and grabbed a handful of green powder. “The Atrium!” he shouted and disappeared in the flames.
When he slid out into the main hall of the Ministry, it was in shambles. Over half the connections had simultaneously short-circuited. At least a dozen bodies lay bleeding and still on the marble floor, being attended to frantically by a contingent of St. Mungo’s Emergency Healers.
Nauseous with fear, Teddy ran from body to body. He looked for Hermione’s distinctive black uniform cloak. With relief, he couldn’t see it on any of the unrecognizable forms laying lifeless.
Yes, she was obviously safe in her office by now. That was it, he convinced himself. Sure. He’d go down to the Seventh Level and check her office. He’d go now. Odd, though, that the Chief Auror wouldn’t be here during a crisis in the Atrium. Well, she was probably on her way up-
“Teddy,” a solemn voice came from behind.
It was a broken, rusted voice. Teddy didn’t like it. “Uncle Harry…I can’t stay to chat. I’ve got to go speak to-“
“Teddy.” A gentle hand grasped his shoulder and turned him around. A grim-faced Harry Potter was trembling, actually trembling. “Hermione - she’s gone.”
“Teddy, there was magical discharge that cascaded through half the floo connections before it could be shut down.” Gently, he steered his godson towards a covered body on one of the wide stone benches. He lifted the sheet –
“No!” Teddy forced the bile back down his throat. He took off running down the maze of corridors, ignoring Harry’s shouts. He knew his godfather wouldn’t follow. The medi-wizard had taken an oath to tend the wounded and dying. No matter what his grief and distress he stick to that oath.
And Teddy would stick to his - the oath not to accept any more crap on behalf of all his loved ones. He ran full-tilt down the stairway to Level Nine, the Department of Mysteries. He was still inebriated enough not to give a damn if he fell. The idea that anything as inane and arbitrary as a random floo malfunction could end the life of the brightest witch of her age, well, that was just plain obscene. He wasn’t going to accept this tragedy, like he’d accepted all the other tragedies in his life.
Teddy was filled with a sense of purpose. No doubts. No fears. He knew that what he was doing was as illegal as hell – but he couldn’t be bothered to care. Those who ominously warned about the dangers of meddling with the past could cordially go fuck themselves. It was still beyond him how Uncle Harry and Hermione hadn’t used that Time Turner a third times all those years ago in Hogwarts. If only they had, they could have helped his own father and dealt with that traitorous scum, Pettigrew, more effectively. If only. If only Harry had used a Time Turner back in his Fifth Year to save the legendary Padfoot from falling into the Veil.
Hermione was dead, but who the fuck said he had to accept that? She wasn’t dead an hour ago. All he had to do was sneak into the Time Room and grab a Time-Turner. End of story. He could do it. He could do “stealthy.” He was a former auror, after all.
And what was the point of being a metamorphagus if one couldn’t assume the identity of a random Unspeakable? In this case, the very nondescript Clayton Hubble, age thirty, blond and watery-blue eyes…and currently getting shagged in one of other guest rooms at the Cauldron.
He slipped into the Time Room, virtually unnoticed. He scanned the room quickly and reached for one of the smaller, insignificant silver hourglasses. One turn for each hour!
One hour would be ample time to get upstairs to the Atrium and prevent that accident from ever happening. And no would ever know. Ever. Teddy flipped the tiny glass over once and sneezed. The action jarred the small device and he barely managed to catch it before it shattered on the floor. Except for a slight spinning sensation, everything seemed to be in order. Teddy rose from the floor, and glanced around. Yes. Everything seemed normal.
His heart thudding inside his chest, Teddy ignored the elevators. He took the stairs two at a time. Exactly one hour ago, the Atrium was bustling and orderly.
“There’s going to be malfunction with the floo system!” he collared the nearest guard. “Shut it down!”
The bored floo operator shrugged. “Not without proper authorization.”
Still morphed into the face and robes of a high-ranking Unspeakable, Teddy glared ominously. “How’d you like a job punching tickets on the Knight Bus, you prick?”
The man paled. He began to systematically close down each entrance.
Not fifteen minutes later, the disgruntled maintenance wizard located the problem.
See? Hermione was alive and nobody would ever know about his little trip back in time. Teddy was more than a little smug.
Just then, the room began to shimmer, and he felt his body lurch.
DEPARTMENT OF MYSTERIES, 1996…
Teddy materialized into a circular room. The Death Chamber. It was in utter chaos – wands flashing…people running about – holy shit! The scene was unmistakable. He knew it so very well. It had been taken directly from Harry Potter’s own pensive and used as battle scenario teaching tool at the Auror Academy.
It took just a second for his stunned mind to absorb the picture. A younger and bloodied Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom in a fight for their lives. The legendary Mad-Eye and a youthful Minister Shacklebolt – all firing off spells in different directions.
And his parents. His Mum and Dad. Alive!
He could see his mother sprawled on the floor. She wasn’t dead, just knocked unconscious. And his father – Remus Lupin, stopping to stare at the young man who had just materialized out of nowhere. Teddy froze and stared back.
“Is that the best you can do, Bella?”
Teddy’s head snapped around in an instant. Just as in his godfather’s pensive, Sirius Black was standing in front of the veil, taunting his cousin. Bellatrix had just fired a Stunner, which had missed. The second time, Teddy knew she would be far luckier.
She raised her wand to fire another spell. Teddy glared at the psychotic witch who was the cause of such unhappiness. She was the woman who had driven the Longbottoms mad and murdered the beloved elf, Dobby. She was the bitch who was yet to murder scores of muggle and wizard children – and worst of all, her own niece - his mum. This piece of Death Eater filth was the reason he’d grown up an orphan. Without even a moment’s hesitation, he slid the wand from his robe and coldly took aim.
Bellatrix Lestrange dropped to the ground, her face a frozen mask of shock.
Teddy screamed at the top of his lungs. “That’s right! Who’s dead now, you crazy fucked-up whore? Who’s dead NOW?” His hair morphed from blue to purple to white then back again.
With Bella neutralized, the other Death Eaters were taken completely off-guard, freezing in momentary disbelief. It was enough time to allow the Order to systematically stun them all.
Still shaking, Teddy glanced over at the still figure of his mother. He felt a pang of longing and joy. He wanted to touch her…and her soft, pink hair. And his Hermione was mere steps away through the corridor, unconscious, as well.
Someone cleared his throat. “So, who the hell are you?” asked Sirius Black in astonishment.
"Time Traveler, with a fucked-up Time-Turner. How ya doin?” Teddy beamed at them. “Uncle Harry, you’re so bloody young!”
“W-who are you?” His godfather looked gobsmacked.
“T.R. Lupin, at your service.” He made a sweeping gesture which caused him to lose his balance and fall flat on his ass.
"Are you drunk?" Remus Lupin stared at him in disbelief. “Lupin?”
"Hey, how’s it hangin, Moony? I'm your son, Teddy."
"You are drunk!”
"Kinda," he agreed amiably. He was actually talking with his father!
"How can you be my son?"
"I think it has to do with all the times you had sex with my Mum."
"Oh, shit, " murmured Sirius. "That really is a Time Turner." There was a pause. "Thanks, by the way, for saving my ass. Falling through that Veil thing would have sucked."
“Actually, it did…the first time.”
“Oh.” Sirius paled in realization.
"Who did I marry?" Remus asked suddenly.
Harry rolled his eyes. “Just look at his hair, Moony.”
“You’re my kid…my own son?” The werewolf was actually trembling. “Me and Nymphadora –“
Sirius raised his eyebrows. "Dude, that is so hot." He stopped himself. “Hang on, that’s my little cousin-“
Teddy was about to make a snide retort when the Time-Turner vibrated and the room faded from view.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Teddy Lupin was thrown to the ground. It was soft and covered in leaves. In moonlight filtering through the tall branches, it was obvious he was in a forest. But why? What was happening to him? He had already changed the past twice. Hermione was alive. Sirius Black hadn’t fallen through the Veil. Bellatrix Lestrange was dead. How would her death change the future of his parents? Of the War? It was almost as if…was it possible? Could a Time-Turner have a will of its own? Or could it merely act upon the wishes and desires of its user?
Suddenly, was a guttural roar and the scream of a terrified child. Even from a distance, by moonlight he could recognize Fenrir Greyback. His distinctive features and M.O. were required study at the Auror Academy. Not to mention, this was the wooly bastard who bitten his father and changed his world forever.
Bitten his father…
Holy hell! On pure instinct, Teddy pointed his wand at the tiny boy who was only feet away from the slavering werewolf.
“Accio Remus John Lupin!”
Almost instantly, a terrified six year-old boy flew through the air into Teddy’s arms. With seconds to spare, he set the child down and performed a hasty Shield Charm.
But with the alcohol still in his system, Teddy simply wasn’t quick enough. He might have temporarily saved his father, but now the stench of Greyback’s rancid breath was hot on his neck.
“Fucking human scum!” He could almost understand the sadistic growling as sharp teeth broke into Teddy’s skin. The werewolf’s delight in ripping apart his victims was painfully clear.
Desperately summoning every last ounce of strength and skill, the victim twisted in the monster’s grip and fired off a decapitation spell. At close contact, it was gruesome and messy. Bits of Greyback flesh, blood and brain clung to Teddy’s face and clothes.
Okay, that was pretty disgusting. If he were more sober, he’d probably vomit. At least he had the wherewithal to perform some industrial-grade cleaning spells. Magic or not, there simply wasn’t enough soap in the world to ever get the sickening stink of mangy, psychotic werewolf off his skin. Oh. Crap.
He could feel where the teeth had broken through the skin on the back of his neck, and drawn blood. Shit. Shit. Shit. He might be carried some creature blood due to his birth, but he’d never manifested any werewolf traits.
But now he’d been officially bitten. At the next full moon…
Teddy suddenly remembered the terrified little boy he’d placed under the protection spell. He canceled the spell and stared down at the sobbing, dazed child.
“Um, hey! How’s it goin’?” He gently pulled the boy to his feet.
Amber eyes were huge in his pale face. “Y-you kilt the monster!”
“Yeah. He’s pretty dead, I guess.”
“You chopped off the monster’s head and it esploded!”
Teddy smiled faintly. “What’s your name?”
“Hey, no kidding! That’s my middle name!” It was important to put the traumatized child at his ease.
“Truly? I thought I was the only boy named Remus!”
Teddy reached down, and pulled the boy into his arms. The kid had huge amber eyes, a mop of curly hair and was actually wearing footy pajamas covered in tiny suns and stars. His dad had been an adorable child . “We’d best get you back home before any of Headless G’s pals show up.” He paused. “What were you doing in the woods during a full moon, anyhow?”
I’ve just been bitten by a bloody werewolf! Hermione will never marry me now! I’ve just been bitten by- Teddy violently shoved the thoughts away. At this moment, his gilt-edged priority was the care and safety of his future father.
“I wanted to see the baby unicorns. They come out during full moons. I wanted to pet them. Mummy and Daddy wouldn’t even know I snuck out, ‘cause their door is closed!”
More images Teddy didn’t need. Grandparents behind closed bedroom doors were just too disturbing.
Little Remus Lupin pointed at a cottage in the distance. The lights were out. Everything seemed tranquil. “See? They didn’t even miss me!”
Teddy brushed the child’s sandy hair from his face. He stared as if he’d never get enough.
“Yes, sweetie. Now, I want you to go right upstairs to bed.”
Remus nodded sleepily. “’Kay!” He allowed the stranger to hug him for a moment, and leave a kiss on his forehead.
“And no sneaking out again in the middle of the night. Fuck the unicorns!”
The boy giggled. “That was naughty!”
“Anyhow, when you get to Hogwarts, you’ll meet somebody named Hagrid and he’ll introduce you to loads of unicorns!”
“No shit.” The adrenalin buzz from whacking Greyback was starting to fade and Teddy stumbled on the front steps of the cottage. He carefully set down his precious burden, and performed a simple unlocking charm on the door. As quietly as he could, he opened it. All the time, he ignored the wetness gathering in his eyes.
“Up to bed you go, little Remus!” he pushed the child gently into the hallway.
“G’night!” his future father whispered and scooted up the staircase, disappearing into the darkness.
“’Night, Daddy!” Teddy whispered back for the first and last time in his life. He faded quickly from the cottage steps and stumbled towards the trees. He sank down on the forest floor and crossed his legs, pulling the Time Turner from inside his shirt, It gleamed silver in the moonlight. In that instant, he realized something else had changed. He might be a werewolf, but now, his father wasn’t.
He felt a strange lightheadedness. Had he changed his own future? Would he even exist in the future? Remus Lupin would never become a werewolf. He would lead a completely different life. Freed from the heavy burden of his affliction, what paths would his father take?
Before he could think another thought, the Time Turner vibrated and the forest disappeared. Teddy could only go along for the ride.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
LITTLE HANGLETON, 1925…
He landed flat on his ass. Not that it made any difference, but Teddy was now completely sober.
So, where the heck was he now? He was convinced there was a “why” and he was merely the “how.” But to what purpose? Teddy felt moistness and pain in his fingers. He looked at his hand. It was bloody, and shards of the broken little hourglass stuck through his palm. Numbly, he realized this was the end of the line. Unless he could make it to the Ministry and feed them some cock and bull story, he’d never get near Time Turner again. Even if he could, it wouldn’t matter. This was…had been no ordinary Time Turner. There was no going forward anyhow.
Teddy couldn’t believe that his final destination had been arbitrary – chosen without meaning. After all, hadn’t he been the one to believe in Destiny? Hadn’t he believed since childhood that Hermione Jean Granger was his destined soulmate? Wouldn’t two souls find each other, no matter what? But why was he here? And once again, where was he?
He glanced around again. The late afternoon sun had already begun to fade. Up on a hill, he could see a some sort of manor house. It looked oddly familiar, as if he’d seen it in a picture, somewhere.
Teddy realized he was laying against a rather large boulder. He could make out soft voices coming from the other side. Not wanting to reveal himself until he knew the situation, he crept a few feet closer, until the voices became more distinct.
“You love me, you know you do.” The first voice belonged to a woman. It was young , soft…almost beguiling.
“I…I don’t know why. Yes. Yes, course I do…” A male voice seemed slightly…off. Wavering.
“Drink some more of this lovely tea, Tom…and tell me again how much you love me.”
“Love you,” the other voice was slurred now. “Love my Merope…”
Merope…Tom. Oh, holy fuck! It was instantly clear now, just why he was here, at journey’s end. Teddy knew what he had to do. Perhaps this was destiny. Perhaps this was what he had been meant to do all along. This was when all things in the wizarding world would change – from this moment on, the future would be undone. Very likely, he would be undone, as well. But it didn’t matter. What light wizard wouldn’t do the same in his place?
He rose slowly to his feet, and stepped out from behind the rock. Now he could see the couple. An incredibly handsome young muggle was leaning drowsily against the hunched shoulder of the ugliest girl he had ever seen in his life.
She looked up at him questioningly, her mismatched eyes taking in the wizard robes. “Who are you?”
Teddy gazed at Merope Gaunt with infinite sadness. Wearily, he pulled his wand from his pocket. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I'm sorry. Avada Kedavra!"
At that precise moment, Tom Marvolo Riddle was erased from the future. From existence. Teddy Lupin had just a second more of consciousness before, he too, ceased to exist.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
THE GREAT HALL, HOGWARTS, SEPTEMBER 1st, 1991…
The line of new First Years stood nervously, waiting to be sorted. Johnny Lupin could see his two best friends – Harry Snape and Draco Black, exchanging worried glances.
“It doesn’t matter,” he whispered. “Whatever house we’re sorted into, we’ll still be best mates.” The other two boys nodded, but Johnny could see how tense they were. It would be alright, though. Their dads had all assured them it didn’t matter which house they ended up in, as long as they all made the Quidditch teams by third year.
He gazed upwards at the blackened ceiling, covered in glittery stars.
“It’s bewitched to look like the sky outside,” whispered the bushy-haired girl standing next to him.
Johnny nodded “I read about it in ‘Hogwarts: A History.’”
“Yes! Don’t you just love that book?”
He grinned, feeling suddenly warm and happy, “I love all books.”
The girl’s smile could have lit up Diagon Alley at Christmas.
John McKinnon Lupin beamed once more, before they both turned their eyes towards the ragged hat on the stool as it began to sing.