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...and the Forest Guard, Chapter One: (Spoilery chapter title), Pt.3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
...and the Forest Guard, Chapter One: (Spoilery chapter title), Pt.3
Wow, I'm going to finish the whole first chapter without putting the name in the post title! ;p Sooner or later, I'll have to get out ye olde "Table of Contents and Summary So Far," but I haven't made it yet. Maybe this weekend. I'm planning 18-20 chapters, I think, though the latter ones aren't entirely planned out yet.

Spoilers through epilogue, plus some stuff from the interviews.

Teddy Lupin is getting ready to go to his first year at Hogwarts, and it's a big celebration at the Burrow--the adults celebrating the resumption of completely normal life as much as anything else, and the completion of the repairs to Hogwarts. Teddy has been given a certain piece of apparently blank parchment. Andromeda is obsessed with making sure Teddy is his own person, and is not expected to replace Remus and Dora (though she's more likely to slip in this regard than anyone else), so she is less than thrilled when he casually says that he won't need to get a wand on tomorrow's trip to Diagon Alley--he's just going to use one of his parents'. He looks up to see his grandmother frowning deeply, and the rest of the table shifting uncomfortably in their chairs.

Teddy looked from one face to another, uncomfortably aware that most of them were looking at him with pity. "Er..." he started, and looked to Granny, who's nose was flaring. "I, well, that's to say, I thought I would... I..." He frowned. "I won't break them. I promise. I thought they were... mine."

"They are," Granny said thinly. "They belong to you as a memory, Teddy. But you should use your own wand in school. We'll go to Ollivander's first."

All of the adults looked at each other awkwardly, then Al Potter picked up a butter knife and said, "A-ko. A-ko," while pointing it at a piece of chocolate cake. Uncle Harry, his wand hand hidden, flew the cake over in response to the "Summoning charm." Al clapped, and James gave him a cheer, and then the adults slowly started talking again, about other things. Granny looked down at her plate and didn't join them.

She reached across and squeezed Teddy's hand. "Sorry," she said.

Teddy shrugged, feeling like there was a very large rock on his shoulders as he did so, and went to get another cup of pumpkin juice from the big table where Mrs. Weasley had laid out all of the extra food. Victoire ran up to join him from the table where she was sitting wither her parents, grandparents, and her uncle Charlie, who now had a box on the table with little holes cut in the side. It wasn't on fire, so Teddy guessed it probably wasn't another baby dragon.

"Have you got in trouble?" she asked brightly, looking at the table he'd come from. "Everyone seems quite angry at you. You can come to our table if you want. Uncle Charlie's got--"

"A surprise!" Charlie Weasley called, cutting her off. "Honestly, Vicky. What I've got, Teddy will find out about soon enough." Shaking his head, he got up and went to Granny, whispering something to her.

"What is it?" Teddy asked Victoire.

"A surprise," she said, putting her nose in the air.

"What sort of surprise?"

"You'll see."

Teddy finished pouring his pumpkin juice, and when he looked back at his table, Granny was smiling and nodding. Charlie Summoned the box, then stood on the bench beside Granny. "Attention, attention. I need one"--he pretended to check a scroll--"Teddy Remus Lupin, if such a person is anywhere nearby."

Teddy stepped up curiously. "What is it?"

"I own a cat," Charlie said.

"I, er... didn't know."

"A grand animal," Charlie went on. "Named Keys, as I left him with Hagrid the first time I went home, as I hadn't quite asked Mum's permission, and Hagrid was Keeper of Keys."

"That'll be Professor Hagrid, these days!" Hagrid called good-naturedly.

"Professor Hagrid," Charlie corrected himself. "Now, Keys is getting on in years now, but still happens to be one of the friendliest cats in all of Europe." There was some snickering amongst the adults. Charlie went on. "Yes, Keys has friends in many places. Especially on a particular farm near the dragon preserve, where he is most warmly received, and just before I headed out, the lady who owns it came to me with a very special present that Keys left for her." He opened the box, and now Teddy could hear the high-pitched mewing of kittens. "She seemed to think there are quite enough cats in the neighborhood who look like this, and thought they might be fine and welcome additions to the British cat population instead. And so, in honor of your upcoming start of school, Teddy Lupin, you get to choose first to take along as your own companion. It's already been cleared with the Dear Lady." He nodded and winked at Granny.

Teddy looked over the edge of the box--which was roomier on the inside than the outside, and lined with fluffy pillows--and saw three kittens, all chasing a feather that Charlie had Charmed for them. Two of them were brownish and short-haired. The third had patches of color on his back and white feet, and Teddy thought he looked like Granny's old cat, Bludger. This one was blinking and batting at something in front of his eyes, and Teddy realized that one of his littermates must have scratched him, leaving a bit of blood. He reached in and cleaned it out. The Bludger-cat caught his hand and held on. He had great yellow eyes, and Teddy fancied that he was smiling.

"Do we have a winner?" Charlie asked, grinning.

Teddy smiled, and picked up the little scrap of fur. He nodded. "I like this one. He's mine."

"Well," Charlie said, "you probably ought to know that he's a she, before you name her."

Feeling better--like the conversation about wands hadn't happened--Teddy gathered up his new friend (Victoire and James started arguing over the other two) and went to sit by Granny, who looked teary again, though she didn't say why. After a while, she said that this one was going to have a bit of a charm done before she went to Hogwarts, so that she wouldn't be quite as friendly as her father.

There were a great number of naming suggestions over the next half hour. Victoire kept suggesting French names like Chérie or Jolie, which Teddy thought would guarantee him a life of being picked on if he said them in front of other boys in a dormitory. James suggested "Martian Seamonster Potter," and Hermione started going through a book for historical names. Granny tried to go with the family game pattern (Bludger's brother and sister had been Quaffle and Snitch), coming up with Gobstone, Fanged Frisbee, Exploding Snap (which Teddy rather liked, but the cat refused to answer to, even when shortened to Snapper), and Football. It was finally Ron who named her, though it was accidental--he'd got the chess board back out and started playing another game with Uncle Harry, who had promptly lost. Uncle Ron cried, "Checkmate!" and the kitten bounced and chased her tail, then crawled up Teddy's arm and enthusiastically bumped her head against his face.

"Checkmate?" Teddy tried dubiously.

Checkmate purred very loudly and tried to bury her head between his jawline and his shoulder. Victoire declared it a very silly name for a cat, outdoing it a moment later, in Teddy's opinion, by naming her own "Beau chaton," as if saying it in French made it mean anything other than "Beautiful kitten," which was a hundred times more stupid than "Checkmate." He immediately started calling it "Bushy," which made her go back to her table and pout.

James would not be put off from naming the third kitten "Martian." "They're brother and sister," he said to Teddy, wide-eyed, as the sun set and Granny started to get the car back in order. He looked solemnly at his own baby sister, Lily, and said, "They must always know one another. Will you come with Checkmate when they visit?"

Teddy allowed that he didn't think his kitten would be making any trips without him, then had to remind James that neither of them would be there for Bonfire Night this year. James was still crying over this injustice when Teddy kissed the family goodbye and got back into Granny's car.

"I'm sorry about the wands," Granny said when she'd got onto a long stretch of straight road. "A wand is the most personal thing a wizard owns, and it should be his own. Do you understand?"

Teddy didn't, but nodded.

"But if you want something of your mum's, which she took everywhere with her, you may have the basket and toys she used for her cat."

Teddy smiled. "My mum had a cat?"

"Named Granny, after her Granny Tonks. I thought you might have seen her stone in the back garden when we buried Snitch last year." Teddy remembered seeing it, next to a very ancient stone that said "Dodger," but as it hadn't struck him as a cat's name, he hadn't realized that she was part of the family's pet cemetery. "She died of very old age not long after your parents got married. She was Bludger's mum." Granny chanced looking over at Checkmate, who was sleeping on Teddy's shoulder. "She was also Keys's mum, which means that you've got Granny's grand-kitten there. Does that help a bit?"

Teddy didn't know why it made him feel especially happy to have his mother's cat's kin with him, but it did. He scratched between Checkmate's ears and listened to her purr.

It was late by the time they pulled around the pond and up to the garage beside the house, and Granny didn't bother trying to drive into it, instead just charming the car and several objects along the wall to make room for one another before they went inside. They got Checkmate set up in her basket (or at least got the basket ready for her; she would under Teddy's bed, behind an old trainer, for most of the next two days). They fed her tuna fish the first night, and Granny promised to stop at the menagerie tomorrow, after Ollivander's, to get her proper food.

By the time Teddy went to bed, he was ready to drop on his feet, and sleep took him quickly. He found himself in the house alone, except for Checkmate, who was chasing her tail in front of the door to Teddy's old nursery. Teddy rarely went in there now--it was a baby room, but neither he nor Granny wanted to repaint it, as Teddy's father had made beautiful charmed drawings all over it, and they didn't want to lose them--but he went in now without hesitating. The chair beside the crib was empty. From the ceiling, the giant butterfly swooped across, bending at the right angle of the wall and going around Teddy. The mooncalves danced behind the crib, and Teddy noticed that the crib wasn't empty. It was full of a small baby with a shock of green hair, his fist curled around a very old stuffed rabbit. A framed photograph of a kind-faced man was placed behind an unbreakable charm, and the baby was reaching one fat fist toward it.

Teddy backed away, then gave an involuntary gasp. The chair was now occupied by a beautiful young woman with a heart-shaped face who seemed to be asleep and dreaming badly. She opened her eyes and put her hand to her heart and said, "Oh, thank God, only a dream, only a..." But then she looked at the low table where all of the baby's things were--looked at it for a long, long time.

She held up one hand and looked at it curiously, and Teddy was suddenly cold, cold to the core of himself.

She looked over her shoulder, then looked back at the crib. "Teddy," she whispered, her voice full of sorrow. "My own Teddy."

The baby woke up and looked straight at her, and as he did, she faded, reaching out one last time, touching his outstretched arm, disappearing...

The baby kept his arm up, and Teddy could see something glowing there, some trace of magic, then something sharp dug into his foot, and he looked down to see Checkmate, and she was attacking his toes, only he was back in his own bed now, and the sun was rising, and Checkmate was mewing for her breakfast between swipes of her claws.

He pushed back his covers, set aside his dream, and got ready to equip himself for Hogwarts.
59 comments or Leave a comment
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myf From: myf Date: July 27th, 2007 07:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, lovely. I adore the drawings in the nursery.

Also - kittens in a Tardis!

You also have Checkmate, who was chasing her tale towards the end, and I think Victoire (who I like very much already) would be choosing names like Cherie and Jolie for a female kitten. I like Bushy for a name, though!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 07:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, yes, this is the price of using Babelfish--no gender markers. ;p
ashavah From: ashavah Date: July 27th, 2007 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Just so you know, Victoire is apparently "sitting wither her parents".

I love this. The stuff with Checkmate was absolutely adorable, and Teddy's dream was so sad and beautiful at the same time ... like looking into the Mirror was for Harry.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

God help Teddy if he ever comes across that mirror.
From: lianna_blanca Date: July 27th, 2007 09:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry I haven't commented on the last two - you've been posting so fast!

I think this is lovely (and not just because I completely adore cats), particularly Remus' drawings and the generations of cats, and seeing Harry and all them as peaceful adults. Andromeda bothers me a little, though; I feel like, after eleven years, she'd be a little less... how do I say? ... high-strung. I realise it could just be that Teddy's going off to school, triggering painful feelings, but... I don't know - it seems like she's always been like this.

Anyway, cheers Fern, and I look forward to more.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mostly it's that it's chapter one, and, eleven years later or not, I have to find someplace to establish her concern. She also needs to be the gatekeeper on the wand issue. I think, like Neville's Gran, she's got what happened to her ward's parents firmly in mind at all times, and she knows she's tempted to replace all she's lost with him--hence the scold in the car--so she overcompensates big time in the other direction.
keestone From: keestone Date: July 27th, 2007 10:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Been meaning to comment on the other bits. I'm really enjoying this.

They got Checkmate set up in her basket (or at least got the basket ready for her; she would under Teddy's bed, behind an old trainer, for most of the next two days).

Is there a word missing here?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup, a "hide." Thanks!
wm_law2003 From: wm_law2003 Date: July 27th, 2007 01:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tonks' ghost visiting Teddy one last time perhaps?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Something like that.
purple_mirie From: purple_mirie Date: July 27th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
When you said "soon," I didn't expect it to be this soon. :D No complaints here!

The dream sequence was beautifully done - haunting yet moving. And Checkmate is just adorable.

More! More!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
All kittens are adorable; it's a rule of the natural universe. ;p
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 27th, 2007 01:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Have you got in trouble?" she asked brightly, Sounds very American. Maybe a Brit-picker can suggest an alternative?

Would an 11 year old boy be so innocent of the facts of life?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think he's aware of the facts of life, but as he doesn't know it's kittens in the box, his mind just isn't going there. The adults know the box is full of kittens, and that they aren't the first ones Charlie has had to find homes for.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: July 27th, 2007 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, I'm really getting into this story now. Loved the dream, you always do those really well.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's turning out to be fun to write, and "fun" isn't anything I anticipated with an R/T related plot anymore!
satakieli From: satakieli Date: July 27th, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I hope we eventually get to see more of Lupin's decorations in the nursery! Not terribly likely for the eleven-year-old disappearing off to Hogwarts, but... Um. I'm inarticulately saying that I like it very much.

As I do the rest of otihs segment.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, the decorations are just decorations, but Teddy might well run across some other things Remus has left behind over the years.
jedi_chick From: jedi_chick Date: July 27th, 2007 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
The dream and Remus's drawings were very poignant. I'm glad that Teddy got to have one of Granny's descendants (especially since kittens are so cute ;~)), and the names of the three kittens are great ("Martian Seamonster Potter" indeed!). Little Al Potter was especially cute with his "Summoning Charm". Looking forward to Diagon Alley!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
After DH, I needed a good strong dose of kittens, babies, and giant butterflies. :)
shiiki From: shiiki Date: July 27th, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh wow, I love your cats! Checkmate is adorable.

That dream scene right at the end ... it's a sad end to the chapter. Poor Teddy. You know, I'm really getting used to the fact that Remus and Tonks are gone, and this bit just nailed it home.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
The sad thing, given the amount of fic I've been writing like a wildwoman this week? I'm still not used to it, and keep expecting JKR to take it back.
From: sleepingfingers Date: July 27th, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
This part is very nice, and I love the name Checkmated for the cat, since Teddy is a great chess player. The cat's history is also very poignant as well, which reminds me of the car earlier in the chapter. :)

Oh, and I think there's a mistake in the first line, "who's nose was flaring."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops! I'll catch that.

One thing about Granny having had, as Sanjiv put it in Shades, a more active social life than Contessa Zabini, is that there are lots of cats to whom Teddy is connected, though he probably doesn't know it.
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: July 27th, 2007 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear, that dream nearly killed me... but beautiful, as always. Oh my.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel very bad for Tonks. Maybe, if Harry hadn't needed to get into the RoR, she, Ginny, and Gran Longbottom would have been able to magically help from there without putting themselves in danger. Bloody Crabbe!
From: womblette Date: July 27th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's nice to see a fic addressing Teddy so quickly, and with such a good writer doing it! Can't wait for more!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
This fic doesn't seem to require a lot of waiting...
ladylothwen From: ladylothwen Date: July 27th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love Checkmate, she's so cute. And Ron was the one who named her, ah silly Ron.
The dream was touching, really hits home that he has a Remus and Tonks shaped hole in his heart.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2007 06:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
he has a Remus and Tonks shaped hole in his heart

Don't we all?
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