Table of Contents and Summary So Far
"I think we should draw straws," Ruthless said, dropping down into a seat in the library, where the Forest Guard was making quick plans for a Muggles and Minions game next weekend.
"Draw straws for what?" Frankie asked vaguely. He was barely concentrating on the game, let alone anything else.
Ruthless tossed out a piece of paper, obviously pulled down from the Gryffindor announcement board. It was trumpeting the return of the free press, in the form of Honoria's newspaper, which would have its first open meeting on Tuesday afternoon. "I'd volunteer, but I thought I'd give the rest of you a chance."
"At a newspaper?" Donzo asked.
"With Honoria?" Maurice put in.
Teddy wrinkled his nose. "Deliberately?"
"Well, she just seems the sort that it might be better not to leave to her own devices," Ruthless said. "She's got a whole collection of Skeeter biographies. Did any of you read the one about my Uncle Rufus?" She shuddered. "I don't trust anyone who collects those bloody things."
Teddy hadn't read Rufus Scrimgeour: Drunken Disgrace, but it had been a hot topic on the WWN for a while last year. Skeeter had talked about Scrimgeour's unhealthy obsession with Dumbledore, his supposedly abusive temper (she'd talked to an ex-Auror named Dawlish, which had made Uncle Harry laugh very bitterly), and how much he drank. In interviews, she also seemed very interested in the fact that he'd never married, and listed a lot of friends he had. Teddy wasn't entirely sure what the connection was meant to be.
"Anyway," Ruthless said, "I thought it would be a good idea to go, before she starts writing articles about whether or not Donzo's a party animal and Teddy gets loopy at the full moon."
"And if she decides you're the one who ought to write them?" Teddy asked.
"Well, I'll have to tell the truth, you know--that you're both dead boring and get your homework done on time."
"We could all go," Maurice said. "Pack the meeting and vote down everything she says."
Frankie shook his head. "I can't. I have other things to do."
"So do I," Teddy said.
Bernice offered to go, and Roger thought it might be amusing to work on a paper ("I could write a column about Muggle things for wizard-borns!"). Maurice suggested that Donzo might join in self-defense, before she decided he was a handy celebrity to gossip about. Older students and their gossipy proclivities were duly discussed. In the end, they didn't finish setting up the game, much to Teddy's disappointment, as he'd been looking forward to it and hoped that it would distract Frankie for a little while.
Instead, it was all he could do to distract him enough to do his homework, as, while half of the Guard went off to the Charmer meeting, Frankie had an epiphany--Sanjiv was stuck because he personally needed to be found and called. "He's forgotten who he is! That's why he can't find his way back!" This led to finding out everything they could (without actually asking anyone who'd known him, of course) to find out about him. Teddy found one of Mum's memories on the ring that was about Sanjiv taking her dancing while she was upset about Dad being a complete idiot, and told Frankie about it, implying that it was something Granny had told him. This, at least, made for an hour or two of trying to learn the dance, which ended up with both of them laughing. Frankie was still keen to go out to the Forest, despite his change of heart about where souls went, as he thought it held a lot of power that wasn't fully explored. Teddy agreed with this, but didn't mention that, he wasn't entirely sure that a third year and a first year were the right ones to correct that. After a long discussion about it, Teddy dreamed about the patch of pale ivy that Frankie had shown him, and in the dream, he wanted to dive into it, even though he could see the redcaps waiting with their clubs raised. He had the impression, in the dream, that he would be able to talk to Mum there, and she would tell him everything while Dad kept him safe from any number of monsters. He never did find them, though.
He got a long letter from Victoire two weeks before his birthday, giving the gory details of a fight she was having with Marie about who got a particularly desirable room in the new addition. Victoire thought it ought to be hers, as she was eldest, and Marie thought she ought to have it, as she would live in it longer before she went to Hogwarts. There had been accidental magic involved, and Victoire thought it terribly unfair that she'd been punished, even though it was entirely Marie's fault that she ended up with a nose like Pinocchio. She asked Teddy if he needed to learn more French, and if the Map was doing anything new and interesting. Teddy wrote back and told her about the ring and all of the memories he'd found on it, though he asked her not to tell anyone. He wasn't sure why he felt it necessary to keep it a secret.
On a whim when he finished, he took the Map back out, using his own wand as he had when he'd first discovered it, to get it to insult him. (Mr. Prongs believes that Mr. Lupin needs a hobby.) A bit of motion in the library caught his eye, and he frowned. Frankie was prowling about in there... and it was long after curfew.
And Filch had started his night patrol.
"Damn," he hissed, and checked the quickest routes down. The Common Room was nearly empty--just Nat Bangs and his girlfriend, and Teddy doubted they'd notice the entire Quidditch team going by--so he snuck out carefully. The Fat Lady gave him a cross sort of look when he closed her, but didn't try to stop him. Teddy supposed they couldn't make the doors impassable after curfew, in case of an emergency, or they'd have done so by now. He morphed himself to a blank gray sort of color to blend better with the shadows. Keeping an eye on the Map, he dodged Filch, his new kitten Master Norris, and Robards, who was wandering aimlessly about on the fourth floor (when Teddy passed him, he was reading a letter and muttering mutinously about whatever was in it).
The door to the library was ajar, and Teddy slipped in, letting go of his morph. According to the Map, Frankie was in the school history section. Teddy closed the door and tiptoed over. "Frankie!" he whispered.
"Teddy, what are you doing here?"
"Filch is doing his rounds, and Robards is right around the corner. We need to put this stuff away and get out."
Frankie looked at him, shaking his head in a confused way. "How...?"
"Just come on!"
Frankie shoved some of the books he had out onto the shelf and put several more in his bag. "We can hide behind the desk," he said.
"Just leave them! Get them out tomorrow!"
"Pince says I'm past my limit in the subject."
"Then put them away and we'll come back and look at them tomorrow."
Something made a noise outside the door, and they both jumped. Frankie ran for Madam Pince's desk and dove behind it, book bag in hand. Teddy followed.
A moment later, the doorknob rattled and light played across the library. Teddy could see the top of Filch's head, and a the base of the door, a kitten's paw was making a beckoning sort of gesture. He held his breath.
He sighed and sank down beside Frankie. "He's gone."
"How did you find me?"
Teddy bit his lip--there was no question of making anything up. "Remember when I told you that I had a secret?"
"Well... this is it." He pulled out the Marauder's Map, brought up the basic view (he only had his own wand with him), and told Frankie everything. "It's how I found this," he finished, holding up the ring, which was still on its now-tattered piece of string. He didn't mention the memory charms on it.
Frankie blinked at it, and Teddy thought he was going to lose his temper again, but instead, he just said, "You've been playing with your dad's friends' map all year? Is that what you've been shutting yourself up with?"
"And here I was worried about spending my time looking at a few old photographs." He pulled the books out of his book bag; they were scrapbooks put together during the time Mum (and Frankie's parents and Sanjiv and Charlie Weasley) had been at school, and he'd marked out a handful of pages.
Teddy didn't think this was very fair, as he'd been careful with the Marauder's Map, and didn't think it was going to bring anyone back to life, but he'd had enough fighting with Frankie this year. "Right, well. You're the first non-Gryffindor to know about it."
"And I'm sure that's why you weren't telling me," Frankie said. "Honestly, Teddy. I told you what I was up to, even though I knew you'd think I was mad." He sighed and stood up, stacking the scrapbooks and heading back to the shelves with them. "You're right, though. I should come back for these tomorrow. I don't need them at this exact second."
Teddy helped him tidy up, and they checked the Map together for obstacles. When Robards had finally gone up to the sixth floor, they slipped out into the corridor. There was no one in Frankie's way going back to Hufflepuff.
"Does Ruthless know?" Frankie asked. "I mean, she's a Gryffindor."
"No. None of the others know. Just you. And Victoire, at home."
Frankie raised his eyebrows. "Victoire Weasley?" He shook his head. "Victoire and me. That's an odd combination of people, Teddy."
"What do you mean?"
He smiled weakly. "Nothing. Thanks for telling me. I'll go now." He disappeared into the shadows.