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...and the Forest Guard, Chapter Four: The Smallest Year, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
...and the Forest Guard, Chapter Four: The Smallest Year, pt. 2
Countdown count: Saturday, this journal is spoiled. Today, tomorrow, all spoilers are under cuts. Saturday, they appear in post titles and icons, and probably some out-of-cut discussion (like, say, catching up on where I am in this story before cutting, which requires naming the people I'm talking about).

Okay, then.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far Spoiler character name in page title.

Teddy's abnormally small year has arrived at Hogwarts. There are six Muggle-born students, and the wizard-born, other than Teddy and a girl named Tinny Gudgeon, were all born abroad. (Tinny's parents were just keeping their heads down.) They have been comparing stories in the anteroom when Neville comes to lead them into the Great Hall.

And yes, I know I moved the 2009 September full moon a few days back (it should be on the fourth, not the first). I feel deeply powerful that way. :p Given that it was on September 1 at the beginning of Harry's third year, as well as Christmas Eve of his sixth, I feel the Potterverse grants this moon-moving power when it suits the plot.

The first years looked nervously at one another as the doors opened, arranging themselves into something like two lines. Teddy found himself between Tinny Gudgeon and the strident Muggle-born boy who was making a great deal of fuss about how uncomfortable his robes were. The pretty blonde was across from him, chewing absently on her lip. She noticed him looking and smiled widely, then Donzo McCormack was offering her his arm, and she slipped back further in line.

They took their first steps into the Great Hall.

Teddy had been here before--he'd come for a Quidditch match with Aunt Ginny, who claimed to be scouting for the Harpies but seemed mainly to be enthusiastically cheering the Gryffindor House team, and they'd slipped in for lunch with Professor Longbottom--but it was different now, filled with waiting students, the candles floating in the air above the tables, the tables dressed for the feast, the night sky appearing on the enchanted ceiling. The full moon sat above the highest arch. The strange combination of starlight, moonlight, and candlelight cast everything in deep warmth.

The long House tables stretched to the front of the room, the students waiting for the feast with varying degrees of patience. Toward the front, they'd left empty spaces--many more than would be needed even for a normal-sized class, Teddy thought, with the Gryffindor table looking particularly empty--but no one commented on this.

He craned his neck to see around Tinny, and there it was--the Sorting Hat.

It was hard for Teddy to believe that there had been a time that incoming students--wizard-born ones, at any rate--were kept in the dark about how the Sorting was accomplished. The Sorting Hat had been splashed across the pages of the Daily Prophet, photographed and analyzed, debated by the Wizengamot... it was as famous as the Quidditch pitch. Professor Longbottom led them to the spot in front of it and lined them up, giving a few quick cues to students who still needed to straighten themselves up, then turned to the Hat itself and nodded.

The hat's brim tipped down respectfully, and this close, Teddy could see the shadows of its burning, black shapes like flames that writhed over its cloth. The rip at its brim opened, and it sang:

"Once upon a misty time
When Hogwarts school was new
The Founders worked in harmony
And thus their project grew.

Hufflepuff's blood is in the earth,
the living growth you see.
Gryffindor built the battlements
To guard from villany.

Slytherin made the secret ways
The mysteries to find,
And Ravenclaw built for knowledge
The turrets of the mind.

But even while the Founders breathed
Their Houses felt the strain
Of clashing hopes and warring dreams
And strife too often came.

To keep their four minds in these walls,
And balance to create,
Each mind gave a bit to me
Before it was too late.

Though they moved on, I still remained
And watched the Houses thrive
With new and burning tensions
Each century to rise.

Some tensions came to naught at all
While others led to war
But in the end a darkness rose
Like none that came before."

Teddy saw several of the teachers at the head table shift uncomfortably here, as if they didn't entirely care for what was about to happen. He frowned. The Hat continued its song, softer now, and sadder.

"The House of Hufflepuff stayed true
And its blood first was shed
Their loyal hearts are counted
Among the honored dead."

Above the Hufflepuff table, over the empty seats, several candles abruptly went out, their smoke forming hazy shapes in the air, which spun and drifted. One of them showed a pleasant, handsome face that Teddy recognized as Cedric Diggory's, and he knew what would happen a second before it did--a puff of smoke twirled into a shape with spiky hair and high, Black cheekbones.

"Mum," he whispered, though the girl in the smoke was as she would have been when she had put the Sorting Hat on her own head. All of the figures were--eleven, clear-faced, and transparent. Teddy felt Professor Longbottom's hand on his shoulder as other shapes of fallen Hufflepuffs appeared and disappeared.

The smoke broke apart and drifted away, and the Hat went back to its song.

"In the airy tow'r of Ravenclaw,
the final war began
In solving the last mystery,
the fear became mere man."

Candles went out over the Ravenclaw table, forming Mad-Eye Moody's face, a woman Teddy thought had taught Muggle Studies, others he didn't know.

"In the end, the darkness must
Be fought from deep within
And so the secret heroes rose
From shadowed Slytherin."

Fewer candles went out over the Slytherin table, but the two faces Teddy saw were deeply familiar to him--Severus Snape, whose name Uncle Harry's younger son had as his middle name, and Regulus Black, whose picture Granny had placed on the wall beside his brother's at home, both of them lit by the same candle. Snape and Regulus spun into the smoke and disappeared.

"Bold Gryffindor, as always, took
the deepest cut of all
The scarlet blood and banner
Laid claim upon this hall."

The light in the Great Hall nearly went out as dozens of candles blinked out of existence at the Gryffindor table, and smoky figures danced toward the ceiling. Teddy tried to get a glimpse of his father, but he was lost in the crowd.

Professor Longbottom squeezed his shoulder and pointed to a spot near the windows, and Teddy saw him, a boy with a thin face and shaggy hair, rendered insubstantial in smoke. He turned once, then disappeared. Teddy smiled at him, not knowing what else he was meant to do.

The Hat waited for the smoke to clear, then finished its song.

"But battles fade into the past
And we, the left behind,
Rebuild and heal, move on and do
The tasks we've been assigned.

Throughout it all, I sort the lot--
It always shall be so.
They even tried to burn me once,
but I refused to go!

So I came back from fiery doom
Despite a little singe
To join the future to the past--
I stand upon the hinge!

You'll find a home in Hufflepuff
If your heart is kind and true
If you don't fear toil and love fair play
then Hufflepuff's for you!

For Ravenclaws, the world's a tale
To spin within the mind
A place for those whose thoughts fly free
In Ravenclaw, you'll find.

Slytherin has a subtle soul
And craves respect to win
If you long to prove yourself
Come home to Slytherin!

The broken heart of Gryffindor
Beats bold and pure as flame
If you stand both sure and brave,
then Gryffindor calls your name!

So come now and try me on,
As we've done from the start,
And I will whisper in your ear
The House that's in your heart!"

There was general applause, though Teddy thought it was a bit subdued. The extinguished candles didn't re-light, but the others drifted slowly around, spreading the remaining light more evenly. Professor Longbottom waited for the applause to end, then stepped forward, a scroll in his hands.

"Atkinson, Corin."

The Canadian boy stepped forward curiously, sat on the stool, and put the hat on his head. It tipped this way and that, then called out, "SLYTHERIN!"

The Slytherin table erupted in a cheer, and Corin was welcomed to an empty seat, not far from where the smoky apparition of Regulus had risen.

"Burke, Maurice."

"Good luck," Teddy whispered to Maurice, who was still standing near him.

Maurice rolled his eyes, mouthed, "Slytherin," then sat down with the hat, which indeed declared that he was also a "SLYTHERIN!" only a few seconds later. "Chapman, Laura," the pretty blonde with china blue eyes, became the first new Hufflepuff, and "Deverill, Constance"--one of the two who said she'd got away through the Quidditch network--joined the Ravenclaw table.

"Driscoll, Franklin." A boy tripped forward from the back of the group, looking down at the stone floor. He was one of the Muggle-borns, but he hadn't spoken yet. He put on the Hat, and it declared that he, too, was a "RAVENCLAW!"

"Duke, Donald McCormack."

Donzo strode forward importantly, and the loud boy who didn't want to be in his robes snorted, "His name's 'Donald Duke'? No wonder he goes by Donzo."

Teddy turned on him. "Turn it down, mate."

The boy rolled his eyes as Donzo also became a "RAVENCLAW!"

"Gudgeon, Ernestine."

Tinny took a deep breath and stepped forward, smiling at the other first years as she went. Teddy wasn't the least surprised to see her head to the Hufflepuff table a moment later.

"Higgs, Honoria," to absolutely no one's surprise, was sent to the Slytherin table, and "Hunter, Jane," another of the Muggle-borns, joined Tinny at Hufflepuff.

Professor Longbottom grinned. "Lupin, Teddy."

Teddy hadn't expected to be called quite so soon, and was taken by surprise. He tripped over his shoelace as he headed to the stool, but either no one noticed, or everyone was kind enough not to laugh.

He sat down, took the Sorting Hat, and put it on his head. It still smelled singed, and he could feel the magical motion of the long ago flames against his ears.

"Ah," a voice whispered in his ear. "Yes, I see who you are."

You do? Teddy thought.

"Oh, yes... yes... your mind is very good, you know."

Thank you.

"So many lines end in you. So many..." The Hat trailed off, and Teddy wondered if its near immolation had unhinged it a bit. It laughed. "No, Teddy Remus Lupin. You are merely difficult. Not the first difficult student I've had, or the last. No, you don't suit Slytherin, despite your family. Ravenclaw?... It would stir your mind, of course, but is that who you are?"

I don't know.

"Hufflepuff... you would do well in Hufflepuff... or Gryffindor..."

Teddy wanted to tell it that he'd prefer Hufflepuff, where he had friends, but some bright fire rose up and stopped the thought from forming.

"Ah..." the Hat said again. "I see, yes. In that case... GRYFFINDOR!"

He knew the Hat had spoken aloud this time, because applause came at last from the Gryffindor table, and a seventh year girl welcomed him warmly to the empty seats as Longbottom called "Lynch, Brendan" (the other "Quidditch network" escapee, Teddy thought) to the stool. Lynch was sent on to Slytherin, and "Palmer, Joseph," went to Hufflepuff.

"Phillips, Geoffrey."

The belligerent Muggle-born boy went forward, looked dubiously at the Hat, then put it on. It deliberated with him for a very long time, then declared him a "RAVENCLAW!" though Teddy thought it didn't sound enthusiastic. A moment later, "Richardson, Elizabeth," also joined the Ravenclaw tables, and the last student, a small, bespectacled boy named "Young, Roger," seemed very happy to be sent to Hufflepuff.

There was a round of applause for the conclusion of the Sorting, but Teddy noticed that it seemed sporadic and confused in his general vicinity.

He looked from side to side, and realized why.

He was the only Gryffindor in his year.
113 comments or Leave a comment
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lucathia_rykatu From: lucathia_rykatu Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I almost thought there weren't going to be any Gryffindors...until Teddy got sorted there! But to be the only one? ;_;

I'm sure his upperclassmen will take good care of him though. And since the class is so small, surely most of the first years will have classes together regardless of house? And then there's the Forest Guard!!

This is as much of a cliffie as anything!! :O
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
He gets a dorm to himself. I think maybe, before he gets much older, they'd better put that alarm charm on the boys' stairs, too... ;p
coralia13 From: coralia13 Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
What an incredibly interesting twist! I can't wait to see where you're going with it.
At first, I wasn't as excited about Teddy as I wanted to be, but these last couple parts have really made me fall in love with him - he just needed (as Andromeda kept insisting) to come out of everyone else's shadows.

Great story!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Andromeda's not dumb, and she knows Teddy's weaknesses much better than Teddy does. She just doesn't understand that his strengths are in exactly the same places.
From: ethnotechno Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Awesome! Absolutely great song!!! Wow, the only Gryffindor...has a lot to live upto.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
As Ron says in the epilogue, "No pressure, though." :)
norilou From: norilou Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor Teddy all alone. The part with the candles was wonderful, I very fitting tribute.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor Teddy all alone.

Yeah, and the one thing he was looking forward to was having friends his own age. :(
From: sleepingfingers Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:19 am (UTC) (Link)
*shivers* This is amazing, yet so chilling and heart-breaking at the same time. When the Sorting Hat dedicated each verse to each house, and when the candles went out, I seriously had tears in my eyes.

And that last line: I know I should be proud of Teddy, and I am glad that he is in Gryffindor, but it's as unnerving as the ending line of chapter 3.

The Gryffindor's table was already the most empty one to begin with, wasn't it?

P.S. The Sorting Hat's song is absolutely brilliant. No wonder it took you a while to write; it's just perfect. If it were me, I'd be very much tempted to just skip over it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
The Gryffindor's table was already the most empty one to begin with, wasn't it?

They left the most seats empty for the dead.

I thought I was done writing Sorting Songs when I more or less abandoned "Of A Sort," but it was kind of fun to do it again. :)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I cried.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Er... I guess I'm glad? :)

hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh sniffle.


This is sad. And lonely.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I wanted Teddy alone, then thought it was too sad and almost put Donzo in with him for comic relief, but ultimately... yeah. Everyone else's parents cut and run. His were the only ones crazy-brave enough to stay put.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Either they'll combine the classes . . . or Teddy's going to get a LOT of one on one tutoring.

Interesting view on the Founders (who we still don't know enough about). I also like the bit with the candles, although I hadn't thought it among the hat's talents.

Then again, leave it to Tom Riddle and his complete disinterest in anything that didn't, er, interest him to use a magical object that can control flames to immolate someone . . . .

And I'm already wondering about this group. The kid who seems to see Hogwarts and everything as silly but the only place that offers courses in the subject he wants to study. I'm betting he has the kind of mindset that tries to reduce magic (even when he's doing it) to something that sounds like a gadget or blades on a Swiss army knife. He seems nearly as obnoxious as Honoria, although his comments could also be the tactlessness of a kid who deals with the strange and the scary by reducing it or mocking it. Things that emphasize it's a different world or that might inspire awe are the things he goes after.

Honoria, on the other hand, obviously feels superior and strengthens that in her mode of attack. It was a fairly typical bullying attack. Even if she generated negative feeling against herself, she also was trying to emphasize that she had the social position/power to make judgements about other people's worth and so on. Geoffrey is antagonizing everyone pretty equally.

Well, well. An interesting year lies ahead.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll have his head of house talk to him about classes next. :)

Interesting view on the Founders (who we still don't know enough about). I also like the bit with the candles, although I hadn't thought it among the hat's talents.

I think it picked up a new power during the last battle when there was so much magic floating around. Either that, or, for a little while after any big wizarding war, it's been able to memorialize.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
petitecrivan From: petitecrivan Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor Teddy! This should make for an interesting seven years. He'll be all sad and lonely...though I imagine he'll make older friends?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
And younger ones, and friends in different houses... but it's not exactly the Marauders, or the Trio, is it?
marikenobi From: marikenobi Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:52 am (UTC) (Link)
wow. Poor Teddy. All alone. I cried.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I think I was being a little sadistic here...
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
hymnia From: hymnia Date: August 3rd, 2007 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
The Sorting Hat song in OotP tends to bring out the emo in me, but the Hat has outdone itself this time--it actually brought me to tears.

I suspected after about the fourth or fifth kid got sorted into not-Gryffindor that Teddy would be the only Gryffindor. It's all the more poignant after the candle-extinguishing effect demonstrated so starkly how much that house lost during the war. It's an interesting twist for Teddy, who already carries so much of a burden as the only child of dead heroes who were also only children (which makes him the representative of three different dwindling family lines). And now as the post-reconstruction era begins at Hogwarts, he is the only new member of the house which lost the most during the war. NO PRESSURE, KID!!

I'm intrigued to see how this plays out.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)

No kidding. Poor Ted. He's well aware that he's sort of a bottleneck all to himself. Hopefully, he'll have a lot of kids so they can sort of split the pressure up.
toastedcheese From: toastedcheese Date: August 3rd, 2007 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Nice twist!

I also thought it was clever that you put Mad-Eye in Ravenclaw; I'd never considered his house, but it really seems to suit him.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 05:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Honestly, I'd generally think of him as a Gryffindor, but we don't know any of the Ravenclaw martyrs, so I just gave them a couple!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 3rd, 2007 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, I really like that you've made him a Gryffindor. I thought it might be a toss up between that and Hufflepuff, but you've already done such a wonderful job with them through Tonks... And the only one in his year! That's certainly a nice touch. =) If nothing else it will encourage making friends in other houses!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 11:48 am (UTC) (Link)
it will encourage making friends in other houses!

Necessitate it, even!
From: tunxeh Date: August 3rd, 2007 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
We knew he was going to Gryffindor, and yet you still managed to throw in an unexpected twist to his sorting. Well played. I'd hope this doesn't leave him too isolated and alone, but he seems to have done ok at making friends on the train...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2007 11:51 am (UTC) (Link)
He'll have to work a little harder, but luckily, he hasn't inherited Remus's belief that he's unworthy of friends, so will probably make the effort.
anj1290 From: anj1290 Date: August 3rd, 2007 06:22 am (UTC) (Link)
The song was absofreakinglutely perfect. And the candles, and Neville's hand on Teddy's shoulder... I normally skip over the hat's songs, but this was just amazing. It literally left me breathless, and only the most harrowing of action scenes have ever done that to me before. Incredible, truly.

Love how you handled Teddy's sorting, too...I'm really enjoying the way you're dealing with the parallels between him and Harry, intentionally or not. Hat wavering between two houses, and choice determining which way to go...only, in contrast to Harry's choosing Gryffindor, it was Teddy's not choosing Hufflepuff that made the difference. Nice reasoning of his, too, the wanting to be with his friends--perfect for an eleven-year-old.

And alone in his dorm, hmm? That'll be interesting. Although it's a bit sad, in a way--not even touching upon the significance of the small class size, he misses out on the experience. Nice set-up for the addressing of inter-House relationships, though.
anj1290 From: anj1290 Date: August 3rd, 2007 06:24 am (UTC) (Link)
*groans* Please excuse the bad grammar.
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