FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,

...and the Forest Guard, Chapter One: (Spoilery chapter title), Pt.1

Oops, I can't give this its whole title until the spoiler period is over. Imagine replacing "..." with the name of the PoV character, who is the same individual about whom my last two stories were written, if that's not too obscure. :)

This is just a first section of a first chapter of a first year fic. Not much happens except for an introduction.

The Great Pre-Hogwarts Orphan Tour

The car making its way cautiously up the lane ran perfectly, but it was rusty and a bit dirty, and its faded window stickers became more antique with each passing year. Crawling along the road like a prehistoric metal insect, its windows had to be kept open in the summer heat, and bits of music sung by the dead were snatched up into the slipstream and thrown to the wind. Its line at the manufacturer had ended, been re-started, and ended again. It seemed to come from some fantastic, long-gone world, where barefoot girls in bell-bottoms danced on dewy hillsides and long-haired men played guitar by the light of the moon, where they sat together and dreamed soft dreams and sang to the coming dawn. It had, in fact, seen such days, and the tense woman now sitting behind the steering wheel had once been one of the barefoot girls, though if one had tried to tell the boy beside her that, he would have flatly refused to believe it.

In those days, the car had gone out frequently, puttering out into the hills for festivals, driving from summer job to summer job with the boy who had once owned it. It had been filled with food to be delivered, laundry to be washed, and ground mulch to be put in. Most of its wear and tear had come in those days, and it hadn't been new when the boy had bought it. When he came of age, he had other ways to move from place to place, ways that were faster and didn't tax his car, and the old friend went into storage until the man's daughter asked to drive it. It had a brief renaissance then, gaining a tape player and a pile of long-melted tapes by squeaky voiced singers in colorful clothes that rattled around under the passenger seat, then went back into storage until the girl was a young woman, and needed it for one specific purpose. During this period of activity, the car had been washed and polished, and it had gained a parking permit sticker, now faded, for school called "Smeltings," whose crest showed various types of metal being worked. That young woman had driven smoothly, with a graceful dexterity of movement that she had never mastered in her independent locomotion.

The woman now driving--the boy's wife, the young woman's mother--had known the car through all of its phases, but had never driven it before this year, and she drove now with the pale, nervous concentration of a teenager making her first attempt. The boy beside her knew better than to try and talk to her; last time he'd done so, she'd pulled over and lectured him for nearly ten minutes about letting her keep her head before she got them both killed. She'd finally grumbled something about putting fireplaces in the train station--though that wasn't where they were headed today; this was just practice--and pulled back out into traffic.

The boy looked at the mirror that stuck out of the car like a raised thumb, and stared at his own reflection. Concentrating, he turned his hair purple, then gold, then orange, then--


The car swerved onto the verge, and Teddy Lupin's grandmother, the formidable Andromeda Tonks, screeched to a stop and turned to Teddy, eyes blazing. "You can be seen in this car," she said. "Honestly. How many times do I have to--" But the words caught in her throat. Teddy knew why. They'd only been driving for a week, going here and there to practice for the trip to London with all of his luggage in September, and she'd never told him anything about not morphing in the car. The scold had been to the ghost of a girl who had once sat here, or in the family's other, more respectable, car, changing her hair color as her son now did, possibly attracting attention from those who shouldn't have seen her do so.

Teddy glanced out the window to make sure there were no Muggles looking out of their windows, at least not close enough to see clearly, and turned his hair sandy brown.

"Take the gray out," Granny said. "It looks a bit silly on an eleven-year-old."

Teddy hadn't put the gray in on purpose--it was just a bad habit he'd picked up looking at old photographs of his father--but he didn't bother making the argument. He just changed it. He thought that, gray aside, this was probably his real color.

Granny took a deep breath, then shook her head. "I'm sorry, Teddy. This driving business makes me nervous. I didn't mean to snap. I think we're running late, and I'm sorely tempted to just park this... thing... and Apparate both of us over to Molly and Arthur's."

"It's all right, Granny," Teddy said. "I like riding."

She looked at him very dubiously, then turned the key in the ignition and went back out onto the road. Teddy looked out the window and watched the south of England roll by. He'd definitely got used to this over the past few days, as everyone in their circle of friends had sent notes saying that they just had to see him before he went off to Hogwarts. It was a sort of concentrated version of his whole life, which was filled with adults who went out of their way to make sure he was seen and spoken to as often as was humanly possible. "We want to make sure," he'd once heard his godfather's wife say, "that Teddy knows he's not alone." Teddy had been five then, and hadn't quite grasped the idea that Uncle Harry wasn't going to come back and live with him and Granny again, after the big party where the red-headed girl wore a pretty white dress.

It turned out that there were a lot of people who wanted Teddy to know he Wasn't Alone, and he loved all of them and wasn't sorry to see any of them on the Great Pre-Hogwarts Orphan Tour (and desperately wanted to ask Uncle Harry about a blank piece of parchment he'd received by Owl Post yesterday morning, with instructions not to mention it to his grandmother), but sometimes, all the assurances and hugs and pats on the back made him wonder if normal eleven-year-olds would get the same sort of treatment. He certainly seemed to be more hugged than than ten-year-old Victoire Weasley, though he supposed that could just be because no one wanted to hug her. She'd probably tell them that they weren't doing it properly and then spend an hour explaining how their arms were in the wrong place, and it would certainly be done better in France. Teddy's dearest hope was that she would follow her love of France to Beauxbatons next year, instead of following him to Hogwarts.

The car crested a hill, and Teddy looked down into the garden of the Burrow, where a rather large crowd of people had got together. There were three Muggle cars, but many more guests than would be accounted for by them. It looked like all of the Weasleys were here, even though he'd already seen Bill and Fleur and their family, and Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny and their children (who he saw twice or three times a week anyway), Ron and Hermione and their children, George Weasley and his Muggle wife (who was very, very big through the stomach just now), and he was willing to bet that Percy was somewhere nearby with a lecture waiting, and... yes, there was Charlie, who had brought a baby dragon to show off. There were more people who Teddy thought of as family, though he wasn't entirely sure how they were related, including two Hogwarts teachers--who he'd have to get used to calling Professor Hagrid and Professor Longbottom soon enough--and old Professor McGonagall, who had retired to, as far as Teddy could tell, follow Quidditch matches around the country. There were others, too, but he couldn't see everyone from here.

The car came to a bouncing stop, and Granny took a deep breath and pulled the keys from the ignition. "That's that," she said. "I think I'll ask Arthur to put more safety charms on it while we're here..."

They got out of the car, and Teddy had to duck from a sudden onslaught of small people running awkwardly at him. Five year old James Potter caught him around the legs, and his younger brother Al tried to follow, but toppled over onto Teddy's feet, which he enthusiastically hugged. His cousin Rose Weasley, the same age, managed not to fall over, then grabbed Teddy by the hand and grinned up at him, making a strange sort of noise between her teeth. A Weasley cousin Teddy thought belonged to Percy launched himself at Teddy's midsection, driving him back into the car.

Teddy collapsed under the laughing pile, feeling warm and happy, if a bit dazed by the attack. He plucked Al up off of his feet and lifted him up to the crook of his arm as he stood up. James, not wanting to be left behind, hooked his fingers over Teddy's arm, and started telling a story about going flying with his father, which seemed to involve a dragon, a doxy, and quite possibly a Muggle submarine.

"You ought to have a hippogriff in that," Teddy said when James seemed finished. "It would be even better if you took Buckbeak next time."

James, looking delighted, ran off, flapping his arms like a hippogriff in flight.

"A hippogriff?" Harry Potter said, coming up the hill to greet him, smiling slightly. He hugged Teddy awkwardly around Al, who refused to be budged. "Come on, Teddy, you can do better than that. Give him a dragon."

"He already had one," Teddy said, and grinned. "Hi, Uncle Harry. Again." He looked at his grandmother, who had got involved in a converation with Molly Weasley and wasn't paying any attention, and said, "Did you send me the, er... parchment thing?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"Is it a present?"

"No. It belongs to you. It belonged to me, and I hope when you no longer need it, you'll pass it to the next person to whom it belongs, though as that person's parent, you ought not tell me if you do."

"A piece of parchment."

Uncle Harry grinned. "Just wait until you get your wand, Teddy. You'll see."

Teddy could see that he'd get no further answers, so he just followed his godfather down into the throng of family waiting for him.

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  • So, "The End of the World" is getting an audio treatment...

    I had an email asking about doing, and it's kind of fun to listen to a podfic. I don't know how often they plan to update, but if you're into it,…

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    Harris, Mags, Finnick and the other Four victors in the afterlife, discussing the changes in Four, etc. for Anon 1 Okay. They're Catholic, so I…

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    Chicharrón being forgotten is what really made me bawl and he was snatched away before we got to know him so maybe a friendship piece between him…