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Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard, Chapter Nineteen: The Shadow in the Smoke, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard, Chapter Nineteen: The Shadow in the Smoke, pt. 1
Teddy's friend Frankie, who's been obsessed with the Forest since Christmas, has noticed Harry et. al hanging around in the area of it where his interest is. Teddy is suddenly summoned an hour before curfew by the Forest Guard, who tell him that Frankie left during his last class--Care of Magical Creatures--and hasn't been seen since. Harry is around because Frankie's letter to Vivian has them all looking around the Forest, and it did, in fact, mention a particular area of the place where he has an interest.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Teddy and Ruthless climbed out through the portrait hole. Corky had joined them, apparently following Maurice, and Ken, Bernice, Zachary, Donzo, and Roger were all behind Tinny.

"Does Hagrid know he's gone?" Teddy asked.

Bernice bit her lip. "We told him he wasn't feeling well. We thought he'd be back at dinner!"

"You thought," Zachary said. "I didn't notice he was gone until we were on our way back. I thought maybe he came here to work out... you know."

"He didn't," Teddy said. "Come on. We'll get him." He led them down the stairs. On the second floor, he held up his hand. "Wait here. I have to see..." He ran down the corridor to the nondescript door Professor Longbottom had taken him through in the autumn. He pounded on it. "Professor Longbottom! Professor Longbottom! It's Teddy!"

There was no answer. He ran across to Robards' office and tried that one, and got no response there, either. He reached for his bag, but it was back in the Common Room, the Marauder's Map with it.

"Teddy!" Tinny called.

He went back. "Bernice, get your Head of House," he said.

"But--"

"Go. We'll go ahead and hopefully, he's fine. But get your Head of House."

Bernice looked like she might refuse--she was a third year, after all, and Teddy was a first year--but ultimately, she nodded, and disappeared up the stairs.

Teddy looked at the others. "All right," he said. "He's probably in the Forest. We should split up, look the places we've been with him. Groups of two or three. Ken, Zachary, Ruthless... you all went around with him last year, right?"

They nodded.

"Okay--I went somewhere else with him this year. You three, take first years."

"And you?" Ruthless prodded.

Teddy grabbed Tinny, who was handiest, and the others took the hint and corralled their nearest neighbors. They looked at each other, then at a nod from Teddy, went downstairs and slipped out the great front doors.

It was late enough in the spring that it wasn't dark yet, but the grounds were wrapped in softening shadows, and candles were already appearing in windows. Teddy glanced down at the greenhouses, but they were dark. They reached the Forest path where they'd stopped in December, and Teddy checked the groups. He nodded, and Ruthless led Roger off to the west. Ken took Maurice and Donzo off on a crooked path that led uphill.

Zachary looked at Teddy. "You know where he is, don't you?"

"Maybe," Teddy said. "But if I'm wrong, just... go."

Zachary went off with Corky, and Teddy and Tinny set off along the narrow path that led toward the spiders' abandoned nest.

"I've only been here once," Teddy said, moving under the low branches that disguised the path. "Frankie thought it seemed..." He emerged into a more open place, Tinny behind him. He could hear things moving in the Forest, scuffling through the undergrowth.

"Seemed what?" she asked.

"I don't know. Powerful. Strange." He looked back toward the tunnel of branches, and groaned as he saw another figure creeping along after them.

"What's strange?" Honoria Higgs asked, her eyes avid.

Tinny turned, a look of fury on her face. "What are you doing here?"

"Trying to find out what's going on. Harry Potter was here earlier, with quite a lot of professors. They all went back to Hagrid's. Now you're all sneaking out."

"It's not a lark, go back," Teddy said, starting to push ahead.

"No, I--"

"Petrificus!"

The word was faint, snatched up on the breeze, but it stopped the conversation.

"Frankie," Teddy said, and dove down the path, Tinny and Honoria behind him.

"Petrificus! Rictusempra!"

Frankie's spells were getting louder now, but they were taking on a panicked note that Teddy didn't like. He could see the dim twilight on the pale leaves of the ivy between the branches ahead of him. The leaves were waving wildly and--

"UGH!"

The Red Caps burst from the foliage on the ground, knocking Teddy off his feet. He kept hold of his wand and hexed one of them away. Three more had grabbed Tinny. Honoria, still a few feet behind, was backing away slowly, her wand drawn uncertainly.

"Go to Hagrid's!" Teddy yelled at her.

"But I..." She pointed her wand at a Red Cap. "P... Petrificus!" It fell backward. She looked up with a madly delighted sort of smile. "I can help!"

"You can help by doing something useful for once! Go to Hagrid's!"

She stumbled backward and Teddy saw two Red Caps going for her. He hexed them. She ran back, disappearing into the shadows.

"Frankie!" Teddy called between hexes. He and Tinny were back to back now, moving sideways along the path, blasting hexes at anything that was moving. A Red Cap got through and hit the side of his leg with its club. He pointed his wand at it and tried the spell he'd heard Professor Longbottom use: "Exsicco Maximus"

The Red Cap burst into flames and ran off.

"Teddy!" Frankie yelled back. "Get out of here! Red Caps!"

"Yes, we noticed!"

Something sizzled, and Teddy noticed a tendril of smoke snaking up the bottom of a pine tree. A spark flickered up from the burning Red Cap and ignited the lower branches. He reached the edge of the ivy. Frankie was surrounded by waving leaves, and Teddy could see the flashes of red underneath them, even in the shadows. His glasses were gone, and he was bleeding from one ear.

"Get over here!" he called.

"I can't! I--" A Red Cap hit his wand elbow, throwing his aim off, and he Cursed a tree.

"Petri--UFF!" At his back, Teddy felt Tinny collapse sideways. He turned. A Red Cap had smashed her knee; it was bent sideways and swelling. She raised her wand and said, "Taranta--" but another came out of nowhere and hit her face. Teddy cursed it away. More were coming.

He gathered Tinny, now whimpering and semi-conscious and tried to find somewhere to put her that she'd be safe, but the fire had spread in the lower branches, and if he put her up out of the Red Caps reach, she'd burn.

"Frankie, we need--"

A burning branch fell from a tree and landed in the ivy, setting it aflame in an uneven line. It burned with a strange, ghastly smell, releasing white smoke.

"Frankie!"

"My wand!" Frankie yelled. "I lost my--"

He was interrupted by the sound of scuffling Red Caps, more than Teddy could count, more than he could see, and then there was a horrible thud, and the sound of meaty strikes.

There was no choice.

Teddy heaved Tinny to her feet, putting his arm around her waist, and waded into the clearing. He had to look after both of them, and that meant getting them together, and he was the only one who could still move.

"Exsicco Maximus!" he called again, figuring that if the ivy was already burning, it couldn't make it any worse. Several Red Caps ran away, their hands on their flaming heads. More of the undergrowth caught, and Teddy's eyes were watering from the smoke now. He dropped to his hands and knees, trying to get under it, dragging Tinny awkwardly along. He could see Frankie ahead, surrounded by Red Caps.

"Petrificus!" One fell away. "Pe-Petrificus!" Another.

Teddy stopped moving, coughing violently. He grabbed at a stalk of the huge plant for balance, and it came up from the dry ground, showering his hand with pebbles that were caught among the roots. They stuck to his hand as he started crawling again, poking him painfully. He hexed away more Red Caps. The world had shrunk again, to nothing but smoke and Frankie and Tinny and Red Caps, and it was shrinking further. His hand landed on polished wood--Frankie's wand--and then he was there, he'd reached the center, and Frankie was bloodied but breathing... breathing in the smoke and unconscious from the Red Caps' blows.

With a last effort, Teddy dragged Tinny forward, putting her down beside Frankie. He crouched beside them, trying to keep warding off the Red Caps, trying to remember any Healing spells he knew, but he'd never really learned any, not even from Granny. All year spent learning silly, useless Charms, and he couldn't think of anything that would help. Maybe if he Levitated them...

"Wingardium..." He coughed as he pointed his wand, and it shook wildly. "Wingardium Levi--o--sa..."

Nothing happened.

A Red Cap appeared out of the smoke and hit Teddy's head--only a glancing blow, but it made his eyes go blurry. He fell forward, dizzy, shielding Tinny and Frankie, taking blows to the back of his shoulders. Dad's ring slipped out from under his robes, and he grabbed at it, thinking in a disjointed way that it was fitting somehow for him to die like this, with Dad's ring in one hand and Mum's wand in the other. His skin stung from where the pebbles had cut into it, and he wanted to shake them off, but his hand seemed very heavy. Dad's ring seemed lodged around one large, cold pebble. He curled his fingers around it, felt it turn in his hand, wanted it to bring him into a good memory now, someplace safe and cool, where he could see forever.

The world shrank more, and darkness invaded the fringes of Teddy's vision. He could see the Red Caps moving in the smoke, their wicked faces looming like castle gargoyles come to life.

"Dad," he whispered. "Mummy, please... help me..."

The darkness moved in further. The world was shifting white smoke and nightmare faces with blood dripping down their ears. It was the sound of crackling flames and soft footsteps in the ivy. He looked up and saw a tall, thin shadow, insubstantial and frail, and then the dark closed in completely, and he knew no more.
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Comments
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redlily From: redlily Date: September 16th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, dammit!! Those Red Caps are horrible little buggers!! Argh, 24 hours till we know what happens?? ;)

Your italics are a bit wonky, but that's an easy fix . . . .
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Got the italics, thanks! Too many spells; I didn't notice I forgot to close one.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: September 16th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think that's the wedding ring he's holding...

Eeeek!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)
It's the wedding ring, but it's not a pebble. (I double-checked TDH; the stone is out of the ring when Harry takes it out of the Snitch; it's just a black stone now.)
From: kobegrace Date: September 16th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh... my... gawd...

What a terrible, terrible wait it will be for me until tomorrow's installment. I shall go mad.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh-heh-heh.

:cackling evilly:
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 16th, 2007 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)
You really hate us, don't you? This is just your way of torturing us. LOL

You have another missing open tag here:

Teddy heaved Tinny to her feet, putting his arm around her waist, and waded into the clearing. He had to look after both of them, and that meant getting them together, and he was the only one who could still move.

"Exsicco Maximus!</i>" he called again, fi
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Grabbed the tag. Silly spells. Thanks; I'd have missed it entirely.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: September 16th, 2007 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)
AAAAAAAAAHHH
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
:D
darth_pipes From: darth_pipes Date: September 16th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Good job with the action, Fern. Can't wait to see what happens next.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Me, either, since I just left my POV character unconscious. :headdesk: Really, he was supposed to stay semi-conscious, but I think he needs to head out to the dreamscape.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
allie_meril From: allie_meril Date: September 16th, 2007 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)
AUGH! AUGH!! *flails*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll try to write early tomorrow.
kagehikario From: kagehikario Date: September 16th, 2007 03:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Climax time! I was wondering where this was going ^_^ *yey*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)
This is it. It's not exactly where I was originally aiming at, but it's in shooting distance, which is unusual for me!
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: September 16th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, Hogwarts really seems to have an infestation of red caps!
I hope that the shadow was an adult, though, not a Dementor.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
It's definitely not a Dementor.
ladylothwen From: ladylothwen Date: September 16th, 2007 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Eeek! Teddy!

Thankfully we know there will be no permanent damage, but still the suspense -- it may drive me mad.

Another great post. ^^
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad it's still suspenseful despite knowing that it comes out all right.
1voice From: 1voice Date: September 16th, 2007 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! NO!

Awesome, awesome!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!
miseri From: miseri Date: September 16th, 2007 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
When did Donzo join them?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops, he generally hangs around with them; I'll put him in the opening. I just didn't imagine without him, and forgot to mention him!
From: lianna_blanca Date: September 16th, 2007 04:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Is this chapter nineteen or twenty? The last one was eighteen, right...?

Anyway, though I don't comment every time, I'm still lurking and loving this!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 04:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Yikes, nineteen! My bad. Thanks for point it out!
cambryn From: cambryn Date: September 16th, 2007 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Augh! Tinny's knee made me shudder!

Those Redcaps! 8O
And Frankie is such a moron. >:| Endangering everyone and himself like that.

Teddy is such a good leader- I love that you made him so capable like that. Can't wait for the next update. You have no idea how much I appreciate your incredible pace with updating with such quality chapters.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 05:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, to be fair to Frankie, he thought he was going by himself!

Glad you're still liking, and Tinny's knee is making me wince, too.
rotae From: rotae Date: September 16th, 2007 05:20 am (UTC) (Link)
OH MY GOD!!! Is it THAT stone?!?!?!!??!!! OMG OMG OMG OMG!!! *flails*

Peace,
rotae
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Yup. Though I think Harry's not going to let Teddy know just what he'd had in his hand for a long, long time.
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