FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,

Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard, Chapter Twenty: The Last Paw Print, pt. 2

Teddy is close to the end of his first year at Hogwarts, and after surviving an adventure in a forest fire--possibly with the help of the Marauders--he is using the Map to collect up their lost belongings. There is only one left, a mark in the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher's quarters. He has no idea how he means to get in there, but Robards (who has recently gotten a letter from Harry that Teddy suspects may not be about Auror business) offers to get Teddy a picture of his parents, but, oh, drat, it's slipped behind this weird little built-into-the-wall chest of drawers, where anything left in the top drawer tends to do so. He asks if Teddy might, by any chance, be interested in helping him find it.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Teddy took a few tentative steps into the room, thinking that he ought to mark entering a new place that his dad had been in some creative way, but he couldn't think of anything. It was a rather anonymous room, owned by too many people over the years to really carry the mark of any of them. It definitely seemed more like Robards's room.

Robards smiled encouragingly, and crouched down beside the little chest of drawers. It was about the height of a night table, and had three narrow drawers above a little swinging door. The door popped open, and Teddy saw a pipe holder--three old and beaten pipes hung from it--and a bag of tobacco that filled the room with a soft, sweet smell. Robards closed it and pulled out the top drawer. It was filled with letters, all the way to the edge. Most of them had return addresses on them with various initials before the name "Robards." Teddy thought they might be his children, though there were no pictures in the room suggesting that he had any.

"I put it in with this mess," he said. "I don't know what I was thinking." He tried to stick his arm behind it but it didn't fit. He pulled out the second drawer, then drew his wand. "Lumos." He peered over the edge. "I can't really see it, but there's quite a pile of junk back there. Shall we have a look?"

Teddy nodded, craning his neck to see into the shadowy recess in the wall. The chest was integrated into the wall; there would be no way to pull it out. "Could you Summon it?" he asked.

"An excellent idea," Robards said, and pointed his wand at the space behind the chest, and apparently cast the spell non-verbally. There was a rushing sound, and a prodigious stream of rubbish flew out of the space where the top drawers had been, landing at Teddy's feet with a soft patter. There were a lot of bits of paper, many envelopes, a brightly colored tie-dyed scarf (which settled over everything), a sprinkling of little black hair bows that scattered like flies, a little silver-handled hairbrush, a rotting pinkish-red brochure that said "Clothing Book, 1942-1943" on it, a tube of some kind of hair potion, a brooch that must have been there for a hundred years at least.

"That's the Black family crest!" Teddy said, looking at it.

Robards picked it up casually. "Hmm. So it is. Hmm. Phineas Nigellus's mother had this post until she got married. I wonder if it was hers." He tossed it to Teddy and said, "Your grandmother might like to have a look at that."

Teddy pocketed it, then, his hand shaking, moved aside the scarf. It revealed generations of jotted notes that read like coded messages as they lay side by side, interrupting each other, unmindful of their separation in time: See Malfoy abou/receipt of one grindyl/Evans has/ssed assignment/nect to Muggle war?/e punished/nothing to be do/Weasl... Teddy moved them aimlessly, revealing some words, hiding others, hoping that the paw print wasn't just the grindylow receipt. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Robards slip a photograph off to one side and go on digging.

Teddy looked for Dad's handwriting, pawing through the papers. There was a great spill of them near Robards's knee, which seemed to be the history of the Moody family, with pictures and names.

Barty Crouch, Jr, had tried to masquerade as Mad-Eye the year after Dad had been there. Teddy picked up that stack of papers. From the bottom of it, an envelope fell out with a thud.

It wasn't in Dad's handwriting, and it wasn't the dull yellowish-beige of the other items. It was fading pink, and the address--Remus Lupin--was written in bright purple ink. The handwriting was unexpectedly even and straight, but still somehow exuberant.

"What do you have?" Robards asked quietly.

"A letter from Mum to Dad," Teddy said. "He must have put it in the drawer and forgotten about it."

"Or just not realized where it had got to," Robards offered.

Teddy nodded, liking that idea better, the idea that of course Dad would have wanted to keep a letter from Mum, even though it was two years before they started going together, but simply couldn't find it. The envelope had been torn neatly at the top edge, and Teddy opened it. There was a stack of photographs inside, showing Granny's house, decorated for Christmas. On the top was a picture of Mum, Dad, and Granddad, all raising glasses of eggnog. Mum looked impossibly young, her hair the brightest pink. Her arms were flung around the necks of both men. She was laughing. Dad looked very tired and bruised, but he was smiling and had his arm easily around Mum's waist. Granddad was waving a piece of mistletoe toward the camera, where Teddy supposed Granny was. They all waved happily to him--the men who'd given him his name, the woman who'd given him his shapeshifting power. He put the pictures back into the envelope, and drew out the letter, careful not to pull too hard, to avoid ripping it. It was dated in May of 1994.

Dear Remus,
I found this stationery and ink in my old school trunk when I went home this weekend, and Dad reckoned it might amuse you, though I'm guessing it will also amuse a few of your students, if the owl gets there during a meal. Whoever is writing to respectable Professor Lupin on pink paper? It will give the girls
days of speculation, so I feel I've done my duty in entertaining the Hogwarts student body.

I finally found an hour to develop the Christmas pictures. I'm so glad you came, even though it was so close to the full moon. Hope we didn't tire you out too badly! It was good to see you.

Unfortunately, it still doesn't look like I'll be able to come up to Hogwarts to see you and talk to your classes, like we talked about. Mad-Eye's got me practicing Stealth moves day and night, and Scrimgeour has us running about like Puffskeins on Pick-Me-Up Potion. I asked for a few days off, and he practically exploded all over me, which would have been quite a mess. I was reminded very sternly where my duty is.

Duty! I'm not sure what to make of this Auror business sometimes. I really wanted to see you teach. I know you're happy to be there, and I do like being around you when you're not moping. I miss being able to see you--in any sort of mood--at a moment's notice, just because I happen to feel like it. I was up in Hogsmeade visiting Sanjiv at his new flat last week, and I thought I'd just try to call by Floo or ring at the gates, but it turned out a bit like trying to infiltrate the Palace, it's so locked down. I'd have tried one of the secret passages, but it would look horrible for me to have been caught. All this business of Hogwarts being closed off to everyone--except, apparently, Sirius--and having to make appointments and present reasons for being there... honestly, I think it's easier to get out of Azkaban than back into Hogwarts these days. I'm really looking forward to the walls being a little more porous. That's a good reason to do my job. It's one thing for Hogwarts to be safe; it's something else entirely when they turn it into a bloody fortress--with Dementors no less. And just when I want to be there most.

I'm visiting in spirit right now, even though I'm sitting at my desk trying to catch my breath between tests. You could give your O.W.L. students a free period and tell them that they're being lectured in spirit by an invisible Auror trainee, who is undoubtedly imparting great wisdom to them. And you could use the time to write back to me. It's quite easy, really, and I'm sure someone will be willing to lend you a quill if you've lost yours.

Well, I knew
this couldn't last. Mad-Eye and Scrimgeour are back, and already bellowing for me, so I'd best sign off and go do all the things that I'm meant to be doing rather than wishing I could be there, but I do wish I were there. Or that you were here, though I imagine you're a good deal happier where you are.

Goodbye for now! The next time I see you, I shall probably be an Auror, and will have to be dreadfully serious, I'm sure. My spirit-lecturing will become even wiser next year.

Oh, I actually have to go; Mad-Eye's calling from somewhere. I'll see you as soon as I can.

Your very own,

Teddy read it again, then took out the pictures and went through them, one at a time. There was Mum standing under mistletoe, glancing mischievously out of frame. There was Dad, surrounded by discarded wrapping paper. In the picture, he'd balled up a wad of it and was playing with Granny the cat while Teddy's actual Granny sat a few feet away, laughing easily. Granddad playing a guitar while Mum sang, Granny and Dad pulling a cracker that exploded into a quacking duck, Dad asleep on an easy chair with four cats draped over him.

"You can keep that, you know," Robards said. "I think that's yours."


"I really did have a picture here." Robards reached behind himself. "My friend Rachel--she's the one they're talking to--sent it to me to give to you, if you wanted it." He handed the picture to Teddy.

Teddy took it. It was another Christmas party, this one considerably larger, in a place he'd never seen before. Mum and Dad were sitting at a table in what seemed to be the woods--though the woods had been decorated extensively--across from a pretty woman with curly black hair. There were several children around, having a chaotic sort of party that kept flitting across the frame, and in the background, Teddy could see other adults dancing in circle. Mum was leaning back against Dad, who was holding her lightly and easily, and his face seemed very calm and happy. Mum's stomach pressed out against her robes, and she kept rubbing it. Dad kissed her head.

Teddy slipped it into the pink envelope with the others. "Thank you," he said. "Should I write to your friend to say thank you? I don't know her last name."

"I'll pass it along," Robards said. "Do you have what you need?"

Teddy nodded. He said goodbye to Robards and went back to Gryffindor Tower to slide the envelope into the box with the other lost things, then took out the Marauder's Map.

He used Dad's wand to open, then switched to his own, pointed the Wolf, and said, "Revelo Lupinis." Nothing appeared. He pointed to the stag. "Revelo Figularis." Nothing. The dog--Revelo Nigellus--and the rat--Revelo Pettigresis--had no circuits left to make between their compass points and their lost items. They remained in their places, fidgeting a bit, but not rushing about. Padfoot wagged his tail and lay down; Moony stretched luxuriously.

Teddy looked at the Map, empty of its paw prints and hoof marks. He touched each of the totems, not with his wand, but with his finger, tracing the inky lines, then picked up his wand again and said, "Mischief Managed."

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