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Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard, Chapter Fifteen: Love Stories, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard, Chapter Fifteen: Love Stories, pt. 3
Teddy's been particularly down because Frankie's being less than responsive to hearing that his obsession is unhealthy, so Teddy doesn't feel like he's being a good friend, and he feels very alone, and just as he's feeling worst, he discovers a present his father left for him, charmed into his wedding ring. The ring holds memories, fully sensory. Most of them are Remus's, though the accompanying letter says that Dora left some as well, and Teddy, after seeing several of Remus's, has just stumbled across the first of hers.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Through his mother's eyes, Teddy could see a rocky hillside, marked by weathered signs with wizarding symbols on them, groggily pointing the way up a steep path. Teddy knew that she was nearly nine, and had been looking forward to this since Christmas, when Mr. Lupin promised that he would take her to see Merlin's Cave while the Squib school he was teaching in that year had its Easter holidays. The view shifted up, and he saw Dad, higher up the slope, looking young and quite graceful as he balanced on the stones. Mum was jealous of this as she watched him nimbly climb over a fall of jagged rocks that had spilled over the path. At Christmas, she pretended that she would grow up to marry him--Teddy found himself amused by this--but now she pretended that he was her teacher again, as he used to be, and he was teaching her to be graceful and not fall over her own feet. She took a deep breath and leapt, as he had, over a washed out gully. Landing safely from this, she felt confident that she could do anything, that she would never fall again, and the pain in her ankle came out of nowhere, like the rocks had come alive and bitten her, and she fell face first into a scattering of pebbles in the dirt.


She looked up, and Teddy felt her face get hot, then--to his great pleasure--recognized the sense of mental push combined with a physical pinch as she tried to morph to cover it up. Having tried this many times himself, Teddy had a sense that she hadn't quite got it right, though he had no way of knowing how it was wrong. "Sorry!" she said. "Just... the, er... the rocks..."

Dad had reached her now, and squatted down beside her, pushing down on her shoulder as she tried to get up. "Your ankle is already swelling, Dora. You twisted it pretty hard." He pulled her leg straight, looking at it to check for breaks, and cursing under his breath. "The Ministry doesn't take care of these sites at all. No wonder there are no tourists." He finished his inspection. "It's just a sprain," he said. "I'm not as good at fixing this as your mum would be, we should really go back--"

"I trust you," Mum said, and her voice felt strange and high to Teddy. "You can fix it. And we can see the cave, like you said."

Dad bit his lip, looking unsure. Mum was hopeful, as, before they'd left, her parents had made a joke about wanting "alone time," and she didn't know exactly what they meant, but she thought Mr. Lupin was meant to have her all afternoon. "I'll try," he said tentatively, and raised his wand.

Mum's ankle grew warm and tingled, and Teddy could feel the swelling going down, but it was still sore. Dad helped her to her feet, and she tested it. It held her weight. "I'm fine!" she said. "You did it just like Mummy."

Dad looked at her suspiciously. "Walk." He waved his wand and cleared several stones from the path.

Mum took a few steps, trying to force herself not to limp, and on the last one, she hissed as her ankle tried to turn again.

"Mm-hmm," Dad said. "Dora, when someone asks if you're all right, you shouldn't lie. It could make it worse."

Mum sat down miserably on a boulder beside the path. "We can't go to the cave because I'm clumsy and I fell."

"We'll go some other..." Dad looked down the hill, then said, "Oh, what the hell." He pointed his wand at Mum and suddenly she felt light as a feather, like the wind might pick her up and carry her away, and she realized that he meant to carry her the rest of the way, and she loved him completely in that moment. Teddy felt this like sunshine breaking in the cloudy sky as Dad crouched down and let her sling her arms around his neck, then scooped her up, her sore ankle pointing up over his arm. She thought it looked like she was kicking a cloud.

Dad started climbing again, and he talked to her as he did, telling her stories about the cave, and Merlin seeing the dragons under Vortigern's tower. They finally reached the top, and the cave opened up, and suddenly the dreary Welsh countryside was gone. They were surrounded by sparkling crystals, lit by magic Mum didn't understand. Dad showed her how she could look in them and see the faces that she loved best, and how in another place, there were faces from the past.

"I want to see the future!" Mum said as he set her down so she could get closer to the past. She hobbled over to it, not feeling clumsy or embarrassed at all now. "I want to see who I'll be, and how everything turns out."

"No one's seen the future here since Merlin," Dad said. "If he did."

Mum turned, feeling horror. "Oh, you don't think he didn't, do you? Do you think the stories aren't true?"

"I don't know, Dora. But I've wondered... what if he wasn't seeing the future? What if he saw his own dreams of the future, and just made them happen?"

Mum turned the idea over, then smiled, then there was a shift in the memory, and it went dark, and Teddy was in his dormitory again, sitting at his work table, staring at Dad's wedding ring on a piece of blank parchment.

He looked at his watch. Thirty minutes had passed. A terrible, crashing wave of pity seemed to loom above him as he thought of the boys he'd seen, all lost, of Mum, with the light in Merlin's Cave flashing over her legs as her Mr. Lupin carried her around, of Dad, who had never been able to help him rescue the queen from the horrible dragon on the clothesline. They had been real.

But they had also been happy sometimes, and had loved one another, and had loved him enough to want him to know it.

He turned the ring counterclockwise three times and said, "Cordis Patronum."

Words formed beneath it, in his father's hand. "Don't get lost. Wait."

They faded and left the parchment blank. Teddy stared at it for a long time, his mind settling, thinking of the words, thinking of the hand that had written them so long ago.

"All right, Dad," he said, and picked up the ring. He started to put it back in its box, but found that he didn't want to lose sight of it just yet, so he rummaged through his trunk for a bit of string, hoping against hope that there would be one, and there was. It had been wrapped around the box of fireworks George Weasley had sent him. He looped it through the ring, tied a knot, and put it over his head. The ring now rested over his chest.

He wanted to go back into the past, but he didn't feel frustrated that he couldn't. Even the rule against going so soon was a gift from Dad, and he wasn't angry about it. He imagined having grown up with quiet proddings like this when he was about to make a mistake, and liked it. He guessed Dad must have lost his temper sometimes--once, when Uncle Harry and Granny had thought he was asleep, he'd sat on the stairs and listened to them talking, and Uncle Harry had said that Dad had lost his temper in a rather large way--but Teddy was quite sure that this was the father he'd meant to try to be, if he'd had the chance. It was the father John Lupin had been, and Teddy thought of the first memory again, of walking along a wall with the man who would be his grandfather, telling stories...

Like I do with James.

Teddy sat up, suddenly smiling. He hadn't even known anyone else had done that, but his grandfather had done it with his father, and if Dad had lived, perhaps they'd have played games like that together, and now he was doing it with James, and it was part of everything. He suddenly wanted to be back at Uncle Harry's, looking for treasure behind Aunt Ginny's knitting basket while James spun one of his endless tales about monsters.

Laughing, he reached for a quill and a small bit of letter parchment.

Dear James, he wrote in careful block letters, I don't know if you remember the game some of the grown-ups were playing at Christmas, called Muggles and Minions, but I play it quite a lot here at school, and my character has found an airplane, only I don't know how to use it. I thought we could share it. It might come in handy on treasure hunts, if you learn to fly it...

Teddy slept soundly that night, dreaming easily of the glade by the river. The fog was still there, but no one was screaming, and when he tried the bridge, it held. He walked into the shapeless mists on the other side, peering curiously into them, knowing he could go back when he needed to.

He woke up on Sunday feeling rested and relaxed, and played with Checkmate until it was time for breakfast, then sealed up his letter to James and nipped up to the Owlery before going down to the Great Hall. Ruthless caught him as soon as he got to the table.

"Watch out," she said. "Frankie's still fuming."

Teddy stopped. He'd nearly forgotten that Frankie was even angry at him. "But I--"

"I know," Ruthless hissed, "but he's annoyed."

Teddy started to go over to the Hufflepuff table, wanting to work this out, but when Frankie caught sight of him, he turned away, burying his nose in a book.

Ruthless caught him by the arm and dragged him back to Gryffindor. "Let him work it out, Lupin. He's not stupid. Usually."

"But he's--"

"Come on," she said. "Have breakfast. I didn't see you at dinner last night. You must be starving."

Teddy didn't feel especially hungry, but he let her pile food in front of him and he ate it, stealing glances across the Great Hall over bites of breakfast he didn't bother looking at. Frankie left as soon as he'd cleared his plate, and didn't talk to Teddy for the rest of the day.
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kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 6th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I've forgotten what Frankie's upset about to. I guess I'll have to go back and read again.

Awww. Like that's a big hardship. LOL

Good chapter. You could write the whole rest of the book of Remus and Dora's stories and I wouldn't mind... too much.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC) (Link)
It doesn't help that Frankie's talked himself into being angrier since Teddy last saw him.

You could write the whole rest of the book of Remus and Dora's stories and I wouldn't mind... too much.

Well, as it happens, I sort of have... ;p
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: September 6th, 2007 03:02 am (UTC) (Link)
You've just made me cry for what I think is the first time in this story - the moment when Teddy realizes that he tells stories with James the same way that John Lupin used to do with Remus. So touching. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC) (Link)
That's one of the reasons I felt it was important for Teddy to get a handle on the past--he doesn't know where the things he does come from, and here, he gets an idea that he's not just some isolated feather on the wind--he's really worked into the whole flow of things.
darth_pipes From: darth_pipes Date: September 6th, 2007 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful post. You've never disappointed when it comes to writing scenes like this, Fern.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I think Leia could have used one of these at a few points in Lady Vader, honestly... though I think she would have tossed it across the room in spite, so maybe not such a grand idea...
allie_meril From: allie_meril Date: September 6th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that moment! Where Teddy realizes that he's *like* Remus! Oh oh oh! *big grin*

I wonder, will Teddy tell Harry about these memories? Maybe not all of them, but the ones involving James? (Or wait, it would make sense to tell them all, Teddy and Harry are close.) That would be a fun scene to see.

Again, looking forward to new (old) memories. :)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 6th, 2007 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, yes, the poker scene. Harry has to see the poker scene.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: September 6th, 2007 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Dora's first memory is charming, and I'm eager to see whose turn it will be next. Remus again? It's also nice to see that Teddy is okay with only getting to visit the past for 30 minutes at a stretch. (Of course, it helps to know that there are more than 30 minutes' worth of memories to experience.) And he's perceptive enough to draw conclusions about what Remus's parenting style would have been and to realize that it likely would have suited him well.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I doubt I'll do another detailed chapter like this, though Teddy will of course continue popping in on the memories. There are lot more of Remus's (of course, he had thirteen more years of memories to begin with), but Dora would probably show him some of her school years, and they'd both introduce him to Sirius.
redlily From: redlily Date: September 6th, 2007 03:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I can imagine a little girl with a crush getting to ride with her arms around his neck and being absolutely over the moon. It's so bittersweet.

Small thing: I think "in rather large way" should be "in a rather large way."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, she was definitely over the moon... heck, the first happy memory she thought of for her child involved spraining her ankle, but who cares, her Mr. Lupin carried her around!

Small thing: I think "in rather large way" should be "in a rather large way."

I'll get that.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 6th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
It's weird. My grandma had a distant cousin who was mildly famous in his field decades ago. I came across a mention of him in something else I was reading that talked about the thought process he went through when he was tackling a problem. I mentioned it to an uncle. He said it's just the way my aunt tackles problems. I remember reading about a guy we thought _might_ be an ancestor from two centuries ago (poor record keeping makes it a so-so identification). It said how, when traveling on foot in winter, he would get ahead of the group and have a book in his pocket that he'd pull out and be reading as the rest of the group caught up. Speaking as a bookworm, I have never doubted the connection since then.

What I mean is, I understand where Teddy's coming from. I don't know that it's logical or that it's something I can explain, but there's something comforting in knowing there was a guy two hundred years ago racing through the snow and then freezing his toes off for the chance to get in a little reading. Things feel a little more complete.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I think everyone's felt that sometimes. Having always been drawn to religion, I've been delighted to find lines of parsons and reverends on every side, including one (Elhanan Winchester, not a direct ancestor, but an uncle) who wrote very prolifically. And I could never get enough stories of my great-grandfather, an actor who delighted in making up his own little skits and putting them on for the neighborhood, for free, to keep them entertained during the Depression. I have the trunk he took on tour with him. (I started writing because I didn't have anything much to act in, and wrote character monologues when I was in school.)
marikenobi From: marikenobi Date: September 6th, 2007 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Awesome! I love it that Teddy's connecting to the past, but also seeing how it all relates to the now.

So wonderful...

And I want to see all of your Remus/Dora stories.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I think a lot of them have worked their way into Shifts and Shades, and most will show up in Safe if I haven't told them yet.
petitecrivan From: petitecrivan Date: September 6th, 2007 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh! Oh! I read a book with that cave in it! I forget what it was, but I remember reading the scene where they're in the cave with the crystals! This makes me happy. And makes me want to know what the book is so I can read it again.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 03:53 am (UTC) (Link)
If it's the one I'm thinking of, it's The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. Though she used the phrase because it's associated with Merlin, and I don't think I've used it exactly the same way she did.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: September 6th, 2007 03:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Sweet that he writes to James... It's a nice way to show that he is coming out of the memories more solid and grounded than before (and he was already doing pretty darn well), not getting stuck in the past. I think the fact that Teddy grew up loved makes all the difference--poor Harry, faced with the Mirror of Erised, saw himself surrounded by people who actually cared for him and of course he didn't want to leave. (Heartbreaking.) I guess that's my slow way of saying that I feel like you've made this new generation do better than the lost generation before them.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. It's actually kind of a tricky balance, to make him better, but still empty enough to drive a story, as he needs that hunger to make it work.
jedi_chick From: jedi_chick Date: September 6th, 2007 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Love the connections Teddy makes to his parents, including his mum morphing to hide her blush just like he did at the beginning with Victoire. I really liked this particular memory of Dora's (wasn't it barely touched on in Shifts?). Teddy's thoughts about what kind of father Remus would have been were great, as was his letter to James.

I do hope that Frankie gets over his anger soon! Hopefully Teddy's more positive dream means that Frankie will be okay too.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)
wasn't it barely touched on in Shifts?

Yeah, Remus remembers it and completely freaks out after their first kiss, accusing himself of any number of horrible things that never so much as crossed his mind. Remus... Sigh.

What's going on with Frankie takes up the rest of the story, really.
kiwi_kimi From: kiwi_kimi Date: September 6th, 2007 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I specially love the scene of Remus carrying Dora in his arms! Lovely prefiguring. I enjoyed the nod to The Crystal Cave, too.

One little thing I don't think anyone else has mentioned yet: "an washed out gully"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 11:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops, I'll get that.
amamama From: amamama Date: September 6th, 2007 06:38 am (UTC) (Link)
This is such a wonderful way to start the day, I already know I'm going to get heavy witdrawal symptoms when the story's done. As I've read through all the comments before this, can I just say that I second them all? The early Remus/Dora interactions, Merlin's cave, Teddy realizing he's got a place in the time stream and the unknown heritage of habits, as we've touched upon before.
Too bad Frankie has talked himself into being more angry with Teddy, but it's quite human. I loved the dream being safe now, that he knew he could explore and go back when he wanted to, and hope that not only rings true for Teddy personally, but also for his relationship with Frankie - and Frankie himself.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 11:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I think that Teddy's in a better position to help Frankie now, though of course Frankie's not in as good a position to be helped, which is problematic.
thornyrose42 From: thornyrose42 Date: September 6th, 2007 09:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I do remember Remus mentioning this incident in Shifts and it is amazing to get Dora's perspective of it. Watching her trying to be brave for her Mr. Lupin is just so cute. But I thought it slightly hypocritical of Remus to tell her not to internalise her pain, but then the dear man has always been good at giving good advice and not taking it himself.

And Teddy's reaction to his father's nudge away from the past left a lump in my throat. Writing a letter to James and his thoughts about the conections through the generations were both spot on.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
But I thought it slightly hypocritical of Remus to tell her not to internalise her pain

Yes, well... Remus. Sometimes, you just have to roll your eyes at him and love him anyway. :)

megan29 From: megan29 Date: September 6th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very well done with the part where Teddy sees through his mom's eyes. I got the feeling there was a bit more of a disconnect between Teddy and his mom's perspective, than there was when he was in his Dad's body - and I think it was the right decision. At the same time, I loved how he feels little Dora's love for Remus "like sunshine breaking in the cloudy sky," and how he identifies with her while she morphs. I was also intrigued by the fade-to-black when Remus says something about Merlin dreaming the future and then making it happen, and Dora smiles somewhat mysteriously. I suppose you made it clear in other stories about Remus/Tonks that she had a crush on him all along, but in this fragment it was only a glimpse, and I liked it that way. I got the impression - given the fact that Dora-the-adult chose the memory - that it was an important moment for her, and she pretty much decided then and there she'll get Remus, but we're not really told, and we don't really know (she is, after all, still a little child!), and I like it all the more b/c of the ambiguity.

In the last part, Teddy seemed perhaps a bit too mature in his musings. This part: "He wanted to go back into the past, but he didn't feel frustrated that he couldn't. Even the rule against going so soon was a gift from Dad, and he wasn't angry about it. He imagined having grown up with quiet proddings like this when he was about to make a mistake, and liked it." It didn't seem very realistic for an 11-year old, but rather sounded like the adult author's voice. I can see Teddy imagining growing up with his Dad, but I can't see him having such revelations about his Dad's character and teaching methods. It usually takes the perspective of time and maturity to "get it."

However, I loved the parallel with stories making connections between father figures and kids, and Teddy feeling almost a father figure himself. Now that, I find very much in keeping with a young boy's perception and feeling of self-importance. Teddy is not conceited, but he loves being the oldest kid in his extended family, doesn't he? It only bothered me a bit that he seems to draw no parallel with Harry telling him stories, which kind of leaves the impression that he grew up a lonely, introverted kid. I think that wasn't what you intended to convey, so maybe you'll consider adding Harry to the list of story-tellers? :-)

Well, this review is getting away from me. But I haven't said anything too meaningful in the past two, so now that the story-arc of the ring is complete, I wanted to be more articulate. :-)

Congrats again on a great piece of writing!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Harry just doesn't strike me as the storytelling sort, that's all--he's a bit too literal, and I'm sure he sometimes looks at James and goes, "Okay, where did this child come from?" Harry did other things with Teddy--rough-housing and game-playing and going along when Teddy made up stories, or making up little magical obstacles for him (like he makes the fishies when the kids are playing over Christmas), but I don't think Teddy would think of him as a tale-spinner.

I know what you mean about the musings. I scaled it back while I was writing but wanted to leave some of it in. It's still a bit much.
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