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Teddy Lupin and the Daedalus Maze, Chapter Eleven: A Walk in the Woods, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Teddy Lupin and the Daedalus Maze, Chapter Eleven: A Walk in the Woods, pt. 2
Harry has come up for his annual stint in DADA, but Teddy hits him out of the blue, after a pleasant time talking to his old friends, with the question about "The Forest, Again." Harry pales and tells Teddy that they need to talk, and should take a walk in the Forest of their own.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Uncle Harry insisted on finishing supper first; it would be a long walk, he thought, and he'd rather have a full stomach for it.

Teddy didn't like his pallor, or the fact that despite his words, he ate next to nothing, nor did he prod Teddy to eat. There was a faraway look in his eyes, and more than once, Teddy noticed his lips moving, like he was rehearsing. This made Teddy nervous--it shouldn't have been that difficult a question--and in the end, he only finished half of his own bowl, and ignored the biscuits and bread entirely. They didn't talk much, and cleaned up the Morses' rooms without saying anything at all.

Uncle Harry took a deep and shaky breath, then went to the door. "Come on, Teddy," he said. "Let's go."

"Into the Forbidden Forest?"

"I'll cover any problems with Sprout."

"I didn't mean..." Teddy shook his head, confused, then went out into the corridor. Uncle Harry locked the door behind them and Summoned his heavy autumn cloak from under the picnic table. Teddy's own jacket, which he'd had on for his trip to Hogsmeade, was draped over a chair he nearly tripped over, or he'd have forgotten it.

Together, they prowled down the evening halls to the main door. No one stopped them. Outside, the night was crisp and cold, and the grass heavy with moisture. Teddy turned and looked over his shoulder. He wasn't sure why. The windows of Hogwarts glowed with candle-light beneath the nearly full moon, and the wind carried the musty, sweet smell of dead and crumbling leaves. He imagined the people inside, going about their errands, playing games, talking about the day in Hogsmeade. Ruthless would be in the library, maybe reading Mum's book or working from others. Jane might be telling Honoria about the date in Hogsmeade. Victoire was probably in the Common Room, surveying the things she'd bought from Lee and Verity, and making plans for an opening salvo in a prank war. Frankie would be studying from his notes, or working on an essay. Corky would be...

"Teddy? We don't have to go if you don't want to."

Teddy turned away from the castle and shook his head. Uncle Harry was partway down the hill. The light from the moon caught his glasses. Teddy broke into a run to join him, then slowed as they entered the darkness under the canopy of the Forbidden Forest. They both lit their wands.

"The first thing you need to know," Uncle Harry said, "was that it wasn't a message. He didn't know I'd ever come out of the woods. He had no reason to believe it. I didn't believe it."

Teddy tried to think of something to say, but couldn't. Uncle Harry's words made it sound like the vision was literal, but it couldn't have been, not if Dad had actually mentioned Teddy by name. All of the others had been gone long before Teddy had got a name.

Uncle Harry seemed to be gathering himself to go on. He didn't notice Teddy's lack of response. "The second thing you need to know is that Remus was the first adult I actually loved since my parents died. I didn't know Dumbledore particularly well yet, and he wasn't an easy man to love. And... well, you've met Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. Remus was the first man I met that I thought I could be, and wouldn't mind being, someday. Sirius came quickly enough, but Lupin was first. I never told him that."

"He knew," Teddy said tentatively as they took a turn on a forest path. Teddy recognized it distantly as the path he'd followed with Frankie in some other life, when Frankie had decided an overgrown glade was the center of the universe, and had nearly died there.

"I hope so." Uncle Harry lifted a branch, but still had to duck to get to the next segment of the path. It wasn't like Hagrid not to tend the paths. Uncle Harry paused, looked around, then veered to the right. "It's got overgrown. I sealed it off, you know. After the fire. Neville and I sealed it off. No one's been here."

"Oh."

They pushed on through the undergrowth, then the tree line abruptly broke, and they descended into a shallow, bowl-shaped clearing. Young ferns and mosses grew over charred logs. Uncle Harry sat down on one of the latter and pointed to one across from it for Teddy. "I don't know where to start," he said. "I've been trying to think of where to start, but nothing's come of it."

"Why here?" Teddy asked.

"We've both been touched by Death here," Uncle Harry said. "It seemed the right place."

"Not a great recommendation," Teddy muttered.

"The first time," Uncle Harry said, "was my second year. This clearing used to be home to a friend of Hagrid's, an Acromantula called Aragog. When Hermione was Petrified, Ron and I came here. Aragog's children would have eaten us if it hadn't been for an enchanted car."

This seemed to be nervous prattle. Teddy had heard the story before, and it was usually a chance to laugh at Ron's fear of spiders.

Uncle Harry swallowed hard. "During the battle, after he killed Snape and left the Shrieking Shack, this is where Voldemort came, and the Death Eaters."

"This is where you got hurt? Where Hagrid carried you back from? Where Narcissa saved you?"

"Teddy, this is where I died."

Words froze in Teddy's mouth. They had a taste like saltwater on marble.

Hesitantly, Uncle Harry started to tell the story that Teddy had always known, but this time he told all of it, beginning with the night when his own parents had died, and he had become The Boy Who Lived. He told this with none of the rhetorical flourishes that the biographers enjoyed. He didn't remember it. He'd seen it through a connection with Voldemort--a connection that had been left out of the official records. He didn't need to tell Teddy that it was to remain outside of public knowledge. As far as anyone knew, he'd somehow survived the curse a second time--"Why not? They believed I'd survived it once with some kind of magic I had that they didn't know about. Why shouldn't I do it again?"--but had cleverly feigned death, to put himself into a strategically better position. Even Hagrid, who had carried him from the woods, and Narcissa Malfoy, who had lied for him, believed that it had been a very clever ruse.

"But I had to die," he said. "I had to be broken completely, to get rid of the part of Voldemort that had been lodged inside me. I came here to die. I expected that Neville would take over the fight at the castle after I was gone, or Ron and Hermione."

Teddy's throat felt like it was no wider than a sewing needle, and his blood was pounding in the arteries around his head. "But you came back. You said that couldn't be done."

"Voldemort quite unintentionally made himself into my Horcrux as well--or close enough to it that there's no real difference. He anchored me. So once I was destroyed, just as he'd been at my parents' home, I could follow that path back. I almost didn't. But I knew I had to. There were things to finish."

Like raising your son? Teddy thought, and tried to step on it. Mum and Dad hadn't had Horcruxes to bring them back. They hadn't had a choice. So why should Uncle Harry have a choice? Weren't Mum and Dad worth a choice? Didn't they have some reason to be back? Didn't--

He ground his teeth. A sharp breath escaped through them, and Uncle Harry turned to him, looking spooked, as if he'd been listening in on Teddy's thoughts.

Teddy grabbed the charred log, digging his fingers into the blackened bark. A beetle, roused from its slumber, trundled across his fingers. When he trusted his voice, he said, "What does this have to do with the message from Dad? What's the vision? Because you couldn't have been with them. You couldn't. They were all dead. Dad had to have just died, but he was so happy, he wouldn't have been so happy if all of that was happening, and Mum had died, and he wasn't with me anymore and--" He stopped, realizing how petty he sounded. "Sorry."

Uncle Harry shook his head. "No. Don't be sorry. Not for that. I was sorry. I told him I was sorry, and he said that you'd know that he died so you could have a happier world. If there's a message, that's it. And you do know it, don't you, Teddy? That he chose to fight so that you would have a chance at a happy life."

Teddy thought of the mostly empty house where he and Granny lived, of Mum's wardrobes slowly aging in the basement, of Dad's rotting art supplies, even of the brothers and sisters he'd never had, even though he'd promised himself he would never think of them again. He thought of looking out his window late one night when he couldn't sleep, and seeing Granny in the back garden, drinking. She'd fallen to her knees, her arms around her waist, the glass shattering on the stones beside her, and wailed. He thought of Mom's pink tulle headband, which ought to have been buried with her, where it would be wound around her skull now, holding the last few strands of dry, crumbling brown hair.

The injustice of it slammed into him like a blast of lightning, raging through his nerves. What had they accomplished by dying? The war had been won only a few hours later, with no help from them. They could have stayed home, and it would have gone along at just the same course. Uncle Harry was apparently the only one in the whole battle who'd mattered.

He forced a breath into his swelling throat, and said, "How did he say it?"

"The same way he saved your life when you nearly died here during your first year. The way he helped protect me from Dementors that night." Uncle Harry drew his wand and pointed it at a charred rock. The lines of a triangle appeared there. "Cloak," he said dully, then moved his wand down, and a straight line bisected it. "Wand." He twirled it and a circle was drawn inside the triangle, around the line. "Stone."

Teddy stared at the symbol etched in the soot. He knew it. Everyone knew it. "The Deathly Hallows?" Icy fingers dug into his brain. "You had them."

"Yes."

Teddy blinked, looked again, then turned his hand over. The scar on his palm nearly glowed in the moonlight. His stomach churned, and he fought to keep from losing his supper. Sweat gathered in his temples and ran down his cheeks. "You had the Resurrection Stone."
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Comments
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lollapulizer From: lollapulizer Date: May 30th, 2008 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm honestly speechless. I just...wow.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!
anj1290 From: anj1290 Date: May 30th, 2008 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)
First of all, I am so glad that this installment came so soon after the last. Except now I know that I'm going to be refreshing this page an absurd amount from tomorrow evening until the next time you update. :-) The tension in this section is palpable, and I'm not sure who I feel more sorry for here. I remember your fic 'Pointless' was the first I read after Deathly Hallows came out, and it made me cry more than the book did, and I don't think that a fic has made me cry since then, but I was tearing up over this. When Teddy starts thinking about the empty house, and Andromeda drinking, and all of those things ending with the sheer injustice of it all hitting him (thanks again, JKR )...that's just painful. In a good way. :-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel more sorry for Harry. Teddy's just going through a very bad moment. Harry's losing the adoration of a boy he's always loved.
sciathan_file From: sciathan_file Date: May 30th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
If it were in my power, I would make you Supreme Deity of the Internet Pantheon.

Awaiting more. ^_^
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)
It's probably just as well you don't have that power, given how slow and neglectful I've been lately! :)
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: May 30th, 2008 05:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, geez, this is intense, Fern.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
It's a little nerve-wracking to write.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 30th, 2008 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, crap--here it comes. And Teddy's beloved dead must be going crazy behind the Veil because they can't do anything to derail the emotional train wreck that's about to happen. You built up the tension so masterfully I feel almost as sick as Teddy and Harry surely do. Eagerly awaiting the next . . . I think.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I think they're probably wondering if Teddy might have been better off if they hadn't improved communication somewhat.
maz333 From: maz333 Date: May 30th, 2008 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow. Oh, man. Poor, poor Teddy. Beloved Uncle Harry was more valuable than his parents in the eyes of the universe, but he just wishes his parents were alive even though he, of course, loves Harry. Man. Not easy stuff to handle at fifteen. Can't wait to see the fallout about the Resurrection Stone.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Beloved Uncle Harry was more valuable than his parents in the eyes of the universe
Exactly. It's a hard enough thing to deal with dead parents who died as bona fide heroes who saved your life and brought the end of the first war. Dealing with your parents as "red shirts" in a big battle scene where only one person really had any power... Ouch. In a real-world battle, every soldier can turn the tide of battle, but in this battle, it was all a distraction to give Harry time to do what he needed to do. Not easy to absorb.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: May 30th, 2008 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Aaah, the tension. Even though I knew the blowout wouldn't be in this segment (like you said, perfect place to end a chapter) I still read this quite anxiously.

Can't wait till tomorrow.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll try to get a segment up tonight, but no promises.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 30th, 2008 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)
So Teddy knows about the Hallows, but doesn't know Harry had them? Interesting. What is the 'official' or public take on that part of the story? What does the wizarding world think the Trio were up to that year?

I'm just trying to distract myself over the wait for the rest of this chapter here...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think anyone really associates the Hallows with the story--maybe the Elder Wand, if Ollivander talks, but not the others. Only Harry and his close compatriots would know. But the Hallows symbol was in the fairy tale book, and it was Grindelwald's symbol, and it was in Rita's bestselling book. Xeno Lovegood was crazy for the Hallows and had a press and an audience. I imagine it would have rekindled the interest in the subject.
From: erv2 Date: May 30th, 2008 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)
It just had to end there didn't it? Lovely. Heartbreakingly lovely.

I wonder if this chapter in particular will benefit to being presented all as one. The breaks have been so well placed that a reader of a "final" version might lose some of the impact of those of us waiting patiently in the glow of our monitors until the next section is published.

Waiting patiently... or as patiently as possible.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, as remiss as I've been about putting up chapters at the Quill, it might not get to that point! :(
amamama From: amamama Date: May 30th, 2008 07:01 am (UTC) (Link)
*draws sharp breath* Wow. Heavy. And important. I doubt I've ever been tis anxious for the next part, but that might just be a case of forgetfulness. Anyway - wow. Hard to find anything else to say at the moment.

Thanks, Fern!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you liked it!
rotae From: rotae Date: May 30th, 2008 07:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear... I'm afraid that I'm starting to see myself in Teddy, and JKR in Harry in this chapter XDDDD LOLOL.

No, seriously, Fern, wow. Brilliant work! I can't wait for he next part :D

Peace,
Rotae
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 03:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm afraid that I'm starting to see myself in Teddy, and JKR in Harry in this chapter

I can't imagine what you mean. ;p

Thanks!
got_it_bub From: got_it_bub Date: May 30th, 2008 08:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my Oh my Oh my.

That gave me spooks.

He thought of Mom's pink tulle...

I think it should be Mum, as it's in England/Britain.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Yup, and because he always calls her "Mum" everywhere else. I think that's just a typo.
thornyrose42 From: thornyrose42 Date: May 30th, 2008 10:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Argh.

That, I have no words, actually that isn't true I have rather a lot of words its just that none of them are particularly coherent and involve a lot of mindless babbling.

Anyway I can really tell what someone commenting yesterday meant. You can really /see/ the fact that Harry, our Harry, is still there in Uncle Harry in this bit. I suppose because he is having to think back to DH. But the fact that we can see this means that Teddy - who has only ever seen Uncle Harry who is, you know, all that is perfect - can see Harry as well and oh. This is going to end so badly.

And it was just really hard to read about Harry telling this story so i really can't imagine how hard it was to write.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm really glad to hear that. I haven't written canon-era Harry much, but I loved him dearly.
redlily From: redlily Date: May 30th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, crap.

I thought about the statement that Remus was the first adult Harry loved, and wondered if Hagrid might be unjustly left out of that count, but I think upon further thought the very child/adult relationships that Harry had with Remus and Sirius (both, unfortunately, much too briefly) weren't quite the same as the more relaxed, peer-like relationship he had with Hagrid . . . .
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I guess I don't really think of Hagrid as an adult so much as a very old child--like you said, Harry's peer at the start, and by the time of GoF, someone under his care.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 30th, 2008 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
"A beetle, roused from its slumber, trundled across his fingers." That better not be Rita Skeeter!!!

Okay, so I was nervous, actually nervous! when they started walking into the forest. Harry's was contagious I guess. I confess I've had a hard time seeing why this would unbalance Teddy so. It's not Harry's fault that Remus and Tonks died. I'm slowly beginning to see where you're going with this.

Wonderful segment!

Lady Stratford
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 31st, 2008 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Ha! Rita. No, not Rita, just one more death symbol. But maybe Harry ought to have stepped on it just to be safe. ;p
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