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Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard, Chapter Nineteen: The Shadow in the Smoke, pt. 2 - 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. 2
Eh, so I don't usually write with this much sunshine going on outside. I felt like moving on with things. I can do housework later. (The benefit of living alone, I guess--no one cares how long I leave the dishes.)

I admit to a little nervousness here. I know that the Stone isn't behaving exactly the same way it did for Harry, but the circumstances are also different, as Teddy is unconscious.

Teddy has gone out looking for Frankie, who decided to go into the Forest alone, because he's afraid that the adults have found the weird little patch around the old spiders' nest where there's strange white ivy growing. Teddy doesn't consider this the best of ideas, and leads the Forest Guard down there, splitting them into small groups to search different parts of the Forest, though he's pretty sure where Frankie is, and is right. He goes with Tinny. When they are almost there, they're attacked by Red Caps, who also have Frankie cornered. Teddy sends Honoria, who has followed them, back to Hagrid's, where she says she saw the professors go, and tries to fight his way through. Tinny is injured, and then Frankie is, and Teddy accidentally sets the Forest on fire trying to dispose of a Red Cap. He crawls into the patch of ivy after Frankie, pulling up a plant by the roots and picking up several pebbles that had been tangled there, at least one of which sticks to his hand. Weakening, he gets Frankie and Tinny together and shields them, but the smoke is making him dizzy, and a blow from a Red Cap sends him reeling. He grabs blindly for his father's ring, which lands in the hand that's embedded with pebbles, an dizzily turns it, wishing for a good memory, but no memory comes. In fact, he's passing out. Just before he loses consciousness, he sees a thin, frail shadow in the smoke.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Teddy knew he was dreaming as soon as he was aware of anything at all.

He was very aware of his body, of the burning in his lungs from the smoke, the pain of bruises where the Red Caps had hit him, the heat of the encroaching flames. His fist was closed tightly around Dad's ring, and the pebbles embedded in his skin stung like fire. He also knew that no further blows were falling and something seemed to be blocking the smoke, and he had a sense of long, thin fingers resting lightly on his head, smoothing his hair, coming to rest on the back of his neck. It was a familiar feeling, though he couldn't remember when he'd felt it before. He opened his eyes to see to whom the fingers belonged, but in his dream, he was somewhere entirely different. Both places seemed to exist simultaneously.

He was curled up among the roots of the Whomping Willow, looking down into the tunnel that led to the Shrieking Shack. It took a moment to recognize it, though, because the world around the tree was a strange, warm shade of yellow, the grass on the hillside oddly flat and cracked like parchment. The castle, far-off, was drawn in ink, and he could see flickers of motion as dots moved about. As the dots came closer, they seemed to take on shape and reality, becoming human as they moved down the hill. He could see dark shapes swimming around their feet, and knew that their names would be there, floating along beside them like shadows on the ground.

Their right names, of course, because the Marauder's Map never lied.

He sat up groggily--in the other place, he continued to lie still, and the fingers continued to caress his head comfortingly--and moved toward the tunnel, hobbling on all fours with one fist closed. A pair of pale gray eyes looked out at him, then a huge dog jumped up, blocking the entrance entirely. The name "Sirius Black" trailed along beside its forepaw. A hoof crunched the twigs on Teddy's other side, and the words "James Potter" snaked over his wrist.

Teddy tried to look around him into the tunnel. Sirius growled, warning him off.

"Wotcher, Teddy," someone said. "You don't need to go into the tunnel, not for a long, long time."

Teddy turned slowly, his eyes to the ground. Her name came into his field of view first, or part of it, skimming over the parchment earth: "-adora Lupin." He looked up, and she crouched down to look him in the eye. She was young and beautiful, with bright pink hair and the high cheekbones and glittering gray eyes of the Black family. Beside her was a cat with white feet and a pattern on its back just like Checkmate's, and the name beside its paws was "Granny."

"Mum," Teddy said.

She smiled. "Yes."

"I'm not dead. It hurts to breathe."

"You'll be all right. Help is coming."

Teddy looked from the dog to the stag, then glanced frantically around the Map. "Where's Dad?"

"Where he belongs," Mum said.

Teddy blinked. "Am I dreaming?"

"Yes. You have no business as near to this particular border as you are, and I don't want to see you here again, but you're not really close to crossing it."

"Then how... how are..."

The Map went white and shadowy as a painful series of coughs ripped through Teddy's body, dragging him back to the clearing. He could feel Frankie and Tinny beneath him. Behind him, he could feel someone else, someone crouched in the smoke, one hand on his neck, comforting him.

He slipped back into the Map.

Mum was watching him, concerned. "Teddy?"

He tried to take a deep breath, but in the real world, the world away from this dream, there was too much smoke. It burned and his eyes watered. "Frankie," he said when he could speak. "And Tinny..."

"They're all right as well," Mum said, and pointed to the other roots of the tree, where Teddy could now see both Frankie and Tinny sleeping. "If you can hold on a bit longer." She looked toward Hagrid's cabin, and Teddy followed her eyes to see ink dots forming themselves into men as they rushed toward the Forest. Teddy could see flames, drawn in black ink, rising up from the trees.

Teddy blinked at her, wanting to say a million things, unable to find words for any of them. He had a feeling that she understood them anyway. She reached across and touched his face. Her hand was like cool mist rising from the ocean.

Teddy coughed again, not so hard this time, not hard enough to wake himself up and return to the Forest, but enough to make him lightheaded. He lay down again among the roots. Sirius came closer and lay down beside him, comforting him as he had once comforted Dad during transformations. James dipped his head and nudged at Teddy's cheek. Teddy felt, oddly, that there ought to be a rat here as well, nuzzled up under his elbow. Sirius let out a bark like a laugh, and Teddy realized that there was no privacy in his thoughts.

Mum smiled and put her hand on his shoulder. "I'm afraid Mr. Pettigrew couldn't make it."

"Is he... there?"

"Not that we've noticed." Mum sat down, cross-legged, and closed her hand over Teddy's fist. "You'll need to let go soon," she said. "They won't see you if you don't let go."

Teddy suddenly didn't want to let go. He wanted to keep his fist closed, stay here, inside the Marauder's Map, Mum's hand on his, the Marauders close by, comforting him.

Mum prodded his face, turned him to see Frankie and Tinny again. "They won't be found, either," she said sternly.

"I don't care."

"Yes you do. You wouldn't have been out in the woods if you didn't."

There was no proper answer to that. "Frankie went to the woods," he said, and his voice sounded petulant to him. "Frankie went to the woods to look for Sanjiv, and he's not here."

"I'm looking as well," Mum said. Her eyes became faraway, shifting their color.

Teddy looked around, baffled. "Don't you have the Map?"

"The Map is yours."

The words seemed to float in his head, as they'd floated to the top of the Marauder's Map: What binds is bound.

He didn't know what the words meant, or why it seemed important to tell this to the dead, who must know it already. James stood back and regarded him thoughtfully through the stag's deep brown eyes.

Mum looked at him, then sighed. "Frankie also needs to let go. This isn't his responsibility. You'll need to help him, Teddy."

"I've tried!"

"Shh. He knows. And you'll help each other." Her eyes narrowed. "It's time to let go, Teddy."

"But... Dad! I haven't seen..." He breathed convulsively, and the smoke poured into his lungs. He woke up, coughing and flailing. He felt the strong hand on his neck again.

"Shh," another voice said, this one soft, hoarse, and known deep in Teddy's own blood. "Let go, Teddy. Let go so they can find you."

Teddy lifted his head. He could see shadows moving about in the smoke, huge and towering. They were calling him, although they were quite close by. Their voices seemed to come from a great distance.

"Teddy, where are you? Teddy? It's Uncle Harry. Are you here? Let me see you!"

Teddy tried to turn over, to look at the figure behind him, but his head was swimming, and when he managed to turn onto his back, his eyes were watering, and the world was a white and gray blur. He had to squeeze his eyes shut. His fingers ached from where they were holding the ring, and the big pebble dug painfully into his palm. The chain the ring was on was pulled taut against his neck, cutting.

Fingers traced the line of his jaw, and the voice said again, "Let go, Teddy. Now."

There was no argument with that voice, that imperative. With more effort than it had ever taken, Teddy forced his fingers to curl outward. He felt smoke burn across the scrapes on his palm, and the ring fell free, dragging the pebbles along with it. The sense of a hand on his face disappeared.

"Teddy!"

He blinked and coughed hard, his lungs feeling like someone had used a Scrubbing Charm on them. "Uncle... Ha...!" He broke into another series of painful coughs.

A dark shadow swooped down out of the smoke, and suddenly strong arms were around Teddy, real ones, warm and clumsy. "I've got them!" Uncle Harry called. "Hagrid, Neville! Get the others, and Robards, keep these bloody Red Caps off of us!"

Teddy felt himself lifted up, hoisted and swung until he was lying in Uncle Harry's arms, being carried like a small child, one arm slung over his shoulders, the other hanging down toward the ground.

"Give me some help here, Teddy," Uncle Harry whispered, sounding almost frightened. "It would help a lot if you could put both of your arms around my neck. Can you do that?"

Teddy fought to bring his free arm up, flailed with it until it found the other wrist, grasped it weakly. He couldn't imagine it was helping much, but Uncle Harry just kept saying "Thank you" as he carried Teddy up the uneven path to the castle.
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Comments
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marikenobi From: marikenobi Date: September 16th, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is so wonderful. I'm tearing up but in the good way...

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not in the "forest fire smoke is in my eyes and I don't get my one chance to see Dad" way? ;p

I'm glad you liked it.
(Deleted comment)
allie_meril From: allie_meril Date: September 16th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great stuff. Oh, Teddy!

Interesting that Teddy's "King's Cross" is the tunnel to the Willow, and the whole thing is imagined in Marauder's-Map-O'-Color. Can't wait to see the final bits!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure it's exactly the same thing as Harry's King's Cross, but it's definitely closely related, and they certainly are determined that he not go near the tunnel.
prelud From: prelud Date: September 16th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I`m tearing up, too. Thank you, Fern.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome. :)
1voice From: 1voice Date: September 16th, 2007 09:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awww. Beautiful. Thank you.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad you liked it!
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: September 16th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was beautiful! Thank you.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome.
ladylothwen From: ladylothwen Date: September 16th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Boy am I glad I checked my f-list when I did or I would've been up all night wondering why you haven't updated.

Wotcher, Dora. It was lovely to see and hear from her again even if it wasn't completely real.

"James Potter" snaked over his his wrist
I think there's too many his in there. But I've been known to be wrong before :)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't think of a single way it's possible for you to be wrong on that one. Fixed!

It felt really good to type "Wotcher."
sciathan_file From: sciathan_file Date: September 16th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I got to read it before I went to bed in Ireland rather than cramming it in desperately before I went to class in the morning. XD

I like the use of the Stone and the fact he goes inside a version of the map...I also want to know where Remus is...all very perplexing.

Also, tiny error: A hoof crunched the twigs on Teddy's other side, and the words "James Potter" snaked over his his wrist. Double "his" in there.

Lovely as per the usual!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I also want to know where Remus is

Remus was the one the stone actually called back--he was in the clearing with Teddy, warding off the Red Caps and protecting the three of them until help from the living could get to them.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 16th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

it's so painful to read, cause it's so mega sad, in a good way of chorse ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!
amamama From: amamama Date: September 16th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
*wide grin' Sometimes having the house full and no time to check my flist is a good thing. Like now, when I got to read two parts at once. Especially like now, I wold've freaked out after the last if I'd had to wait. And then this - he accidentally found the stone from Marvolo Gaunt's ring, didn't he? Using the tunnel under the whomping willow as the one to get through to the afterlife was a neat and fitting twist. And now he's been told by mum and dad to let go, and that he needs to tell Frankie too. I look forward to that! And I look forward to the explanations that just have to come. What has Harry been doing up there? Curious, most curious.

Cheers!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
he accidentally found the stone from Marvolo Gaunt's ring
Yup. It had gone underground and gotten tangled in the roots of a dying ivy plant. Presto-chango, three turns later, zombie ivy. Pull it up accidentally, and you've got the Stone. Of course, I suspect that now that the Marauders are back together, they're inventing again, and Teddy's "accidental" discovery at that moment may not have been entirely accidental.
kacates From: kacates Date: September 16th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Part of me is SO GLAD you updated early, because what a cliffhanger you left us with last night! But the other part of me is all disappointed that this is it for the day.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks and sorry, I guess!
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 16th, 2007 10:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
"What binds is bound"?

Does that mean, if Sanjiv were bound to the map, lost things of his - like, say, a soul - might show up? But how to get it to show up if it isn't at Hogwarts?

Much enjoyed, especially this early. Thanks!

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 11:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I think the Map in the afterworld probably shows more than Hogwarts. ;p But I would think the Identity charm identifies the soul itself, so they'd just have to find out where it is on the Map.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
redlily From: redlily Date: September 16th, 2007 11:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that was absolutely lovely. I desperately hope that he gets his dad's ring back, though . . . while the Stone is best not owned by anyone, I think the ring would be a nice thing for Teddy to keep. :-/
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2007 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, he has the ring. The ring is on a chain around his neck. He just had to drop the stone that it had kind of trapped inside its circle inside Teddy's fist.
jedi_chick From: jedi_chick Date: September 17th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)
What a fantastic update! I'm glad I thought to check before heading out to celebrate my best friend's birthday tonight. :~)

I'm glad that Teddy got a chance to talk to his mum, and that Remus was the one protecting him. Teddy feeling like Peter should be there in addition to James and Sirius was perfect as well.

It's good that the adults found them, and that Harry is the one carrying Teddy back up to the castle. Harry's level of anxiety at the end is just right.

I hope that Frankie listens to Teddy and lets go of his search...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 12:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Harry's level of anxiety at the end is just right.

Scared to death?

I can see Harry, after this, going to Arthur Weasley and Dr. Granger to apologize to to them for dragging their kids into trouble. It may be the first time he actually gets the concept.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
shiiki From: shiiki Date: September 17th, 2007 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)
It feels so satisfying to read Dora from you again. Your descriptions of this in-between place that Teddy is in ... wow. It's really got such a dreamy quality to it. Very nicely conveyed!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I wanted to bring back the tokens he's been using through the story, but actually having the Map would have made it much more logical for them to go to Hagrid's in the first place. Then I thought, hey, his Whomping Willow dream is a dream--it doesn't need to be on the actual grounds, does it?
darth_pipes From: darth_pipes Date: September 17th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful, wonderful post, Fern. Very well-written. Had to be tough for Teddy to see that but he had to.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. It was harder to write than I thought it would be!
alexiscartwheel From: alexiscartwheel Date: September 17th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)
An early chapter! That made for the perfect study break!

Teddy's become so connected with the Marauder's Map through the year, so it seemed appropriate that he would end up literally inside the map.

Teddy felt, oddly, that there ought to be a rat here as well, nuzzled up under his elbow. That line just makes me love Teddy even more. Peter's history as a Marauder is hard to understand, since we know him as a traitor, but Teddy's connection is to the teenage boy who was one of his father's closest friends.

Yeah, Teddy is basically awesome. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Teddy has an academic sort of understanding that Peter was a traitor, but Remus's choice to give him the best of his memories has also, I think, made him Peter in the best light possible.
contrail From: contrail Date: September 17th, 2007 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
The imagery in this part was lovely, as others have said. It made me cry, mostly in a good way. I do have to wonder if you have a notion as to where Peter did end up since he's not with the others. (I kind of like the idea of him having been given a choice to be reincarnated and have a chance to do better the second time and him taking it, but I'm really curious as to what you think would happen to him.)

- Contrail
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. darth_pipes e-mailed me an idea of his (which I won't share unless he wants to, as he might want to play with it), and I like the reincarnation idea as well. Was his one tiny action of mercy enough to make up for everything? It didn't seem considered or even anything a moral choice, just a emotional reaction.

I've been goofing around with an afterlife fic idea (out of comments on an earlier post about people needing Bludgers to the head at certain points, and connecting them up to our favorite afterlife Beater), and I figure there are windows here and there for reincarnation--like being a ghost, it would have its serious drawback. Instead of losing a bit of your identity, you lose your memories (even if the soul is intact), so a lot of people don't choose it, because they'd rather remember the people they love. Would Peter do it? Maybe. Hmmm.
purebristles From: purebristles Date: September 17th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC) (Link)
This was so, so awesome. Harry's misunderstood "thank yous" were awesome - that Harry was so, so scared, and Teddy's confusion at how his arms around Harry's neck could warrant so much gratefulness from Harry was fantastic.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 17th, 2007 08:43 am (UTC) (Link)
So... is Harry thanking Remus? Did he know Teddy was holding the stone?
nicolen From: nicolen Date: September 17th, 2007 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)
You kill me, Fern. This was brilliant.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's criminal that Remus doesn't get to raise his son, after going through everything he did to get his head screwed back on straight for him. I hope Dolohov is enjoying a particularly sadistic corner of hell.
thornyrose42 From: thornyrose42 Date: September 17th, 2007 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Double review time! I'm actually quite glad that I couldn't get to a computer for yesterday's update, I'm pretty sure that my nails would have been bitten right down top the quick if I'd had to wait that long for the next chapter. Bit of a cliff hanger or what?

Anyway on to this chapter, which is just heart achingly beautiful, the way you melded the dream world and the real world together was masterful, weaving the strands of Teddy's awareness into one tale was just amazing. You've shown yet again your truely excellent skill with words.

There are so many things that made a lump catch in my throat, the fact that protecting and watching over Teddy is where Remus "belongs", the way that Harry was so distraught that he kept on thanking Remus all the way back up to the castle, because I'm sure Harry knew why he couldn't see Teddy, oh and the fact that Harry was "sounding almost frightened" obviously desperatly trying not to worry Teddy, Sirius and James, his guides through out the year, preventing him from crossing over and it felt so right that Teddy felt that Wormtail ought to have been there as well. (I was actually half hoping that Teddy would catch a glimpse of a tail twined around the roots of the tree. *sniff* I do hope that he is just keeping out of the way of his old pals and not, well, with his newer asociates). Dora was...so motherly, it just broke my heart.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Every time I think about them not getting the chance to be Teddy's parents, it breaks my heart, and not in the "Oh, I'm so exalted by the beauty of the grief" way, either. It just pisses me off, pretty much the same way it does in the real world.

I can just imagine how Harry feels here--the one other person in the world descended from his father's group, trusted to his care, the last bit of two people who died fighting for him, and now, he's in the middle of a forest fire, hacking his lungs out and half-dead.
From: kobegrace Date: September 17th, 2007 12:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
(*Big, deep sigh*)

Wow, Fern... just... Wow.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!
obsfuscation From: obsfuscation Date: September 17th, 2007 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, just perfect. I love, love, love grown up Harry.

The dream map was fantastic. Sirius and James make wonderful dream guardians, and it was SO GOOD to see Dora again. It's amazing how you can make Remus's presence so felt throughout the whole segment when he only speaks twice.

Also, I love Sirius's "bark like a laugh" when we've heard about his laugh like a bark so many times in the books. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't realize I'd just reversed it until after I wrote it, then I thought about changing it and said, "Nah, I like it reversed!"

It felt good to write Dora again. I felt like having her just say, "Oh, to hell with it, keep the stone, I'm coming back, 'kay?" Blah.
ada_the_mental From: ada_the_mental Date: September 17th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow!!! Yeah, I know I'm being really constructive here.

Definitely the BESTEST segment so far! Very nice idea to have the Map as Teddy's limbo.
Don't you just miss Dora and the Marauders? Pity Teddy didn't get a glimpse of Remus...Stupid smoke!

Her name came into his field of view first, or part of it, skimming over the parchment earth: "-adora Lupin."
You know...I think she would have kept her maiden name.

Can I ask you something completely OT? I've been doing a little sketch of Mad-Eye!Sweet and I was wondering which side of her face Greyback had mauled.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think she'd have kept her maiden name--what's the one thing we know she wanted, after all? To be Mrs. Lupin. And I think, at heart, she was always Mrs. Lupin, which is why the Map identified her as that instead of by her maiden name... it's her real name now.

I don't think I ever said which side of Sweet's face is scarred, but I see it as the right side. You're drawing her? :squee:
From: geekstcy Date: September 18th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I LOVE this chapter! It's so sad, but in a sweet way. It's really great that Teddy finally gets to see his parents, and that Remus was right there protecting him (at least I think that's what happened). I can't believe he just so happened to stumble upon the resurrection stone, very creative twist there. Can I friend you?
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