FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,

Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard, Chapter Twenty: The Last Paw Print, pt. 1

Teddy's lived through a forest fire and another Red Cap attack, and Harry is sticking around until Madam Pomfrey decides to let him out of the hospital wing.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Madam Pomfrey kept Teddy in the hospital wing for three days, mainly to keep an eye on his lungs, which she worried might still be injured. Though they remained sore, there was no more blood, and his breathing became easier by the day. Frankie and Tinny, who'd been lower to the ground and taken less smoke, were released on the first day, though Tinny's knee was still splinted, and she had to walk with a cane for a week. Ruthless brought Checkmate down the first morning, saying she was crying so loudly for Teddy that no Gryffindor could sleep or study. Teddy wasn't entirely sure this was true, but when Checkmate climbed into his hospital bed and crawled up onto his pillow, she was purring madly, and fell asleep with her wet nose pushed up behind his earlobe.

Uncle Harry went home at night, but took time from work to come to Hogwarts during the days and sit with Teddy, as he'd promised. A few curious students craned their necks in, and he nodded to them politely, but didn't let them engage him in conversation. Granny was also there, and for a little while, it seemed like the ancient, half-forgotten days when Uncle Harry had lived with them, and he and Granny would banter comfortably while Teddy leaned over the edge of his high chair and tried to feed his vegetables to the cats. Teddy sometimes wished that Granny would move in with Uncle Harry, but he didn't fancy giving up her house--and his own nursery, with the decorations Dad had made with such care--and he supposed it wouldn't make much sense to have the house if no one was living in it.

On the day Madam Pomfrey released him, they fussed over him for a few more minutes, then Granny took a deep breath and said, "Uncle Harry and I have to get back to work, and so do you. You have end-of-year exams coming up."

Uncle Harry drew a little leather-bound book from under his robes. "This is from Hermione. She thought you might have got behind and would need it." He smiled ruefully.

Teddy took the book. It was a planner, and when he opened it, Hermione's voice reminded him that things sooner begun were sooner done. She'd blocked out his best subjects and put in a first year study guide. On the inside of the front cover, she'd written, It will be easier to keep to this schedule if you stay out of the hospital wing... not to mention easier on Uncle Harry.

"Ron and I never followed ours," Uncle Harry said. "And we managed to pass most of our classes, Divination aside."

Teddy laughed.

Madam Pomfrey gave his lungs one more check, then gave him a potion that he was meant to pour onto his pillow and breathe in while he slept for the next few days and a strict instruction to come back if he saw so much as a speck of blood when he coughed. Teddy thought this an eminently reasonable notion, though he didn't think it would happen.

At dinner, he discovered that Headmistress Sprout had given Gryffindor twenty points on Teddy's behalf for trying to rescue Frankie (Frankie thought this was stingy, for trying to save someone's life), and Honoria had earned ten for Slytherin by going to get the professors. This seemed to have got her back in the good graces of her House, and during dinner, when Teddy wandered over to sit with Maurice and Corky for a bit, she sat down opposite them, and told the story of her great escape from the burning Forest.

"That Red Cap followed me," she said. "I cursed it, but it kept coming, so I had to run quite fast to get to Hagrid's. At first, they wouldn't listen to me, but when I said you sent me, Harry Potter was out the door before I finished talking."

"Right," Corky said, "because if she'd just said that Tinny and Frankie were trapped out there in the middle of the fire, they'd have had tea instead."

Teddy was glad that Honoria wasn't on the Charmer anymore, as he could just imagine the article she might write on that theme. "Well," he said, "thank you for going."

She bristled. "Of course I went. Slytherins can be useful." She turned up her nose and left.

"What was that about?" Teddy asked.

"Well, clearly your 'thank you' was sarcastic and an insult to the House," Maurice said. "We shall have to avenge ourselves on you for it." He gave a bewildered shrug. "Girls."

Donzo sidled over with his plate and sat on Teddy's other side, and Tinny and Roger spotted them and joined them. Tinny waved toward the Hufflepuff table with her cane (which she'd decorated with bright yellow paper, striped with black), and a moment later, Frankie and Zachary came over as well, causing several older Slytherins to roll their eyes in disgust.

"Bilingual?" Maurice said to Corky.

"Just so," Corky said.

They each flashed both versions of a rude gesture down the table, and lost two points each, as Slughorn happened to be passing by.

The next day, Frankie was summoned to Professor Sprout's office to take a Floo call from his mother, and was waiting for Teddy after Defense Against the Dark Arts to tell him that Sanjiv MacPherson had slipped away quietly. The adults were having only a tiny service on Saturday, and Frankie wanted to have one in the Hufflepuff Common Room as well. Teddy went to it, and was surprised to find that the entire House turned out for it, even though Sanjiv hadn't been there for nearly twenty years, and none of them knew him. Frankie did a eulogy, and wrote it up for the Charmer under the title, "The Last Casualty." It turned out that he wrote well--calmly and reasonably--and the last lingering jokes about him died away, at least for a little while. (The Gryffindor third year boys tried to make weeping sounds at him, but someone hexed them so that they started actually crying, in high baby voices, and couldn't stop until Madam Pomfrey reversed it. No one seemed to be able to identify who'd cast the hex, even though at least ten people, including Teddy, saw Ruthless draw her wand.)

Teddy studied, actually following Hermione's instructions, which made good sense, caught up on the homework he'd missed, and started looking through the second year textbooks in the library. Each night when he finished, he took out the Marauder's Map. He didn't do this with the desperate craving for company that he'd had earlier. It was more a sense of something that had been left undone. He remembered the dream of being inside it, of being close to James and Sirius and his mum, and he thought he had a job to do.

He began by finding the things James Potter had lost around the school--other than the Quidditch betting book that had been upstairs, he found a spare pair of specs that had fallen behind a book shelf (one lens was cracked in a spiderweb pattern that left it milky; the other was just covered with thirty years of dust), a homework assignment under another marked Marauder stone that someone had hidden on him (Teddy suspected Dad, from the handwriting), and a dusty collection of Chocolate Frog cards that had been left under Hagrid's front step and forgotten for some reason. There was also a paw print from Padfoot there, and Teddy found a rotting lead for a dog. Dad's ring showed him a memory of a puppy they'd found in their third year, which Sirius had named Fizzing Whizbee, and Hagrid had kept for them. Sirius had also left a book in the Transfiguration classroom, along with the spare book collection, with many scribbled notes. Teddy had looked at these eagerly, hoping they would reveal tricks like the Potions book Uncle Harry had found in his sixth year, but mostly, Sirius seemed to have amused himself by amending the spells so they would Transfigure objects into embarrassing sorts of things. He had to use the Keys to the Castle to find Peter Pettigrew's spell--which turned out to be fake Latin, anyway, so he wouldn't have guessed it: Revelo Pettigresis. Teddy found many food stashes inside the walls, all of them long-turned to greasy dust--Peter's Animagus form would have allowed him access, and he seemed to have used it. Teddy thought quite a few of them may have been hidden not while Peter was a student, but while he was masquerading as first Percy's, then Ron's pet rat. One or two of these sites also had magazines, probably nicked from older boys' dormitories, that were dated in those years. The girls in them all wore odd make-up, big hair, and not much else.

There was nothing left in their old room, other than what he'd already found. Five generations of students must have found anything that wasn't as carefully hidden as the baseboard cubbyhole. He looked into the ring, and thought he might be getting some control over where it took him--though he didn't know how--as he saw them leaving the room the last day of their seventh year. They'd overslept because they'd spent the night up drinking Firewhiskey, and had gathered things up in a rush before they missed breakfast and the carriages down to the trains. Dad had bent down to the cubbyhole and opened it, reaching around frantically and drawing out handfuls that he could reach.

"I can't find the Keys to the map!" he said, distraught.

"Well, Moony," James said, "as we haven't had the Map for quite a long time and are leaving the place it covers, it's possible we can live without the Keys."

Dad hadn't been happy about this and had glanced down in the direction where the Keys had actually lain, but his view was obstructed by the box of pictures. "D'you want these?" he asked Sirius.

Sirius--who must have run away by then, Teddy realized--said, "I wouldn't have shoved them in the wall if I wanted them."

Dad didn't believe him, but also didn't fish out the box, as he knew Sirius would just tell him to put it back. So there it had stayed for thirty years, waiting for Teddy to bring it back into the world.

All of the things he found (except for Peter's rotted food), he put into a cardboard box. Over the summer, he thought he'd buy something sturdier, like the basket where Granny kept his parents' things. He didn't know what he intended to do with them.

At last, there was only one paw print left, one of Dad's, in the private quarters off the Defense Against the Dark Arts office. He didn't want to break into Robards's private place, not after Robards had been so nice to him all year, and he couldn't think why it seemed so important to find every last piece of the Marauders--however silly or rubbishy--and gather it together to take away with him, but the problem of the last paw print occupied him increasingly during the two weeks of exams. He haunted the corridor outside the office, walking back and forth between it and Professor Longbottom's office (Professor Longbottom looked at him quizzically, but didn't ask any questions), trying to think of some way to ask if he might go inside and have a look around.

The day after Teddy took his last exam, he finally just knocked on Robards's door, hoping that something would come to him. Robards was sitting at his desk, going through a stack of papers. There was a letter on his desk, addressed to him in Uncle Harry's handwriting, but he swept it into his drawer when he saw Teddy looking, and Teddy guessed it was Auror business.

"I'm glad you came to see me, Teddy," he said. "I've been thinking--I have something you might like. A picture of your mum and dad that we took that last Christmas. You're in it as well, of course, in your own sort of way. I have it in back, if you'd like to see it."

He stood and opened the door to the private quarters, which consisted of one tiny room with a large bed, a dresser, a night table, and a little set of drawers that was actually set into the wall to save space. Teddy hung back at the door while Robards went to the the drawers and opened the top one. He frowned. "Oh, dear," he said. "I'm afraid it's fallen behind here. This silly thing; I don't know why I use it. I'd wager things have been dropping out of this drawer and into the wall since Godric Gryffindor had this room, and it's a right pain to get anything out. It's probably a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor museum back there." He smiled faintly, Teddy thought about the letter from Uncle Harry that he'd hidden so quickly, wondering if it might have had nothing to do with Auror business after all. "I don't suppose you'd like to give me a hand?"

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