FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,

Teddy Lupin and the Daedalus Maze, Chapter Twenty-One: Sulci Numine, pt. 1

I'm not entirely certain when I'll be able to update the Table of Contents--a little migration trouble there!

At any rate, Teddy and his friends are going to use the Maze to try and find out how the Quarantine was placed. They don't know how it's going to work out. Teddy has just said the "Sulci Numine" spell to enter.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

"It's the Forbidden Forest," Frankie said.

Whether it had been the Forest all along--the group had started out as the Forest Guard, after all, devoted to exploring it--or if it formed when Frankie identified it, Teddy couldn't have said with any certainty. It had struck him as dark and windy, with tall shadows that might have been trees, but he wasn't sure.

Now, though, Frankie was right. They were standing under the eaves of the Forbidden Forest, just beyond the point where you could see Hagrid's cabin easily. As he watched, the forms solidified, the ground spreading out around his friends' feet. Teddy could see the vague shape of a maze twisting back away from them, but it wasn't as obvious as some. He wasn't sure the others could see it at all. The wind rattled the leaves, and he could smell an approaching storm, the sort that would bring hail and ear-splitting lightning.

Victoire looked around nervously. "Teddy, why are you clothes different?"

Teddy, who'd never really paid attention to his clothes in the Maze, looked down to find himself in worn and tattered robes with patches on the elbows. Dad's, he supposed, though they were an older style than Dad would have worn. He shrugged. Victoire was actually the only one of them still in her neat school robes. Ruthless was in her glasses again, though she'd been without them when they entered the Maze, and was wearing an ill-fitting jumper over faded blue jeans. Maurice was in green dress robes. Corky had on a heavy winter coat over his jeans. Donzo was wearing what he'd worn in the mirror in the Room of Requirement--jeans, with a jacket over a tee shirt. He was also in glasses, his hair neatly tied back. Frankie seemed to have gained back all of his childhood pudginess, and was wearing a loud flowered shirt over knee-length shorts.

Ruthless looked down at herself and brushed at the jumper in disgust. "Oh, please!" As Teddy watched, the jumper became her Quidditch robes. She seemed more satisfied with this. A few of the others appeared to contemplate trying this, but ultimately, no one else did.

"Is there some reason that path is glowing?" Maurice asked.

Teddy looked in the direction he was pointing. The path to Uncle Harry's clearing was, indeed, glimmering softly. He was fumbling for an answer when Frankie said, in an oddly strained voice, "That goes where Teddy and Tinny and I almost died in that fire. The year I went a bit mad."

"Oh, yes," Donzo said. "I have a vague memory of that."

"I wasn't there," Victoire said.

"Can you see the path?" Donzo asked. "Just curious."


Maurice laughed. "Are you taking notes, Don?"

"Dear God," Ruthless said. "Nobody think about a quill."

Teddy let them continue the nervous chatter. He went to Frankie, who wasn't participating.

"Do you think it's down there?" he asked, nervous suddenly about what he knew was in that clearing, about the secret much bigger than the Maze that he knew he was meant to keep. "Whatever it is?"

Frankie sighed. "I don't know."

"There's something else there," Teddy told him, in the hope that "something" would explain anything they happened across. "I... well, I can't say what; Uncle Harry wouldn't want me to. But you weren't crazy. There was something there."

He nodded. "Thanks. I think that's just lit up because we're thinking about it, though. Unless the thing is the nexus of everything that happens at Hogwarts, of course."

"I don't think so. It wasn't always there. And I hope not, since we wouldn't be able to get through Uncle Harry's spells to get back in."

Frankie looked at him for a long time, then said, "You saved my arse that day, Teddy."

"I, well..."

"And I have complete faith in you."

"Then you're way ahead of me on this."

"I know. That's why I thought you needed to hear it." Frankie shook his head. "So where's our guide?"

"There!" Corky said. "Look. I'm blaming the two of you for it, too."

There was a grunt, and Teddy looked down to see a Red Cap, its club raised, blood dripping from behind its ears. It grinned obscenely. He'd been attacked twice by Red Caps during his first year, before the adults had decided to clear them out, but he would have sworn that he hadn't thought about them since. Now, though, a twist of cold fear went through him as he remembered them swarming over him.

"Not to be technical," Victoire said thinly, "but what do we do with a Red Cap?"

"Nothing," Ruthless said. "It's not really a Red Cap."

"Teddy said the others attacked him." Victoire looked anxiously at Teddy, who nodded reluctantly. "So what do we do?"

"It's a Guide," Maurice said. "We follow it."

This seemed a logical idea--there was no reason to be in the Maze if they were just to stand around at the entrance--but still, he hesitated. It had all seemed like a very good idea before they were here, but what would they see together? Would they suddenly round a turn and find Victoire and Ruthless on the deck of the ship? Would they see the werewolf, or the murderess? And what would they bring to it?

But it was too late to turn back now.

He nodded. "All right. But remember--stay together, and stay focused on the question. The Guide will probably change. Watch for things off to the side. We don't know what will be useful." He looked at the Red Cap. "We just need to find the source of the Quarantine."

The Red Cap swung its club forcefully, then ran down the shining path. Frankie and Teddy glanced at each other nervously.

They followed.

The Red Cap stopped at the first passage and waited for them. The Maze-shape was becoming clearer as creeper vines and ivy started to twist up between the trees. The Red Cap began to stretch and grow wispy gray hair. Its cap faded into an inexpensive wizard's hat, and its club became a wand.

"It's Borgin!" Maurice announced, sounding utterly disgusted. "Nice toy, Lupin."

"I doubt he came out of Teddy's head," Corky said.

Borgin beckoned directly to Maurice. Maurice stared at it defiantly.

Donzo went over to him and said, quietly, "It's a guide, Mo. Follow it."

Maurice grimaced and muttered, "All right."

Teddy expected them to continue down the original path, which was still glowing softly in the shadows, but Borgin smiled wickedly and turned left, down a twisting path they could barely see on. They followed it until the old path seemed like a memory of a sunny day, then Victoire said, "Wait."

Teddy stopped, and touched Ruthless's shoulder to the same. She sent the signal on to Donzo, and a moment later, everyone was gathered. Borgin, who'd got younger as they walked, glared at them impatiently.

"Light," Victoire said. She closed her eyes and bent down, feeling along the ground. Something cylindrical appeared, and she raised it. A torch. "Fire," she whispered. It lit.

"That was just lucky," Corky said. "You could have set the whole Forest going."

Victoire opened her eyes. "I didn't think of that."

"And it didn't happen," Frankie said. "And now we have some light. Good job, Victoire. Though I'm guessing the rest of us better not try it, now that we're thinking about forest fires."

Teddy shook his head. "In here, the fire would probably just block our way." He held out his hand, and Victoire handed him the torch. He didn't recognize this place in the forest. It was purely the Maze now. He peered back in the direction they'd come. There was nothing but the shadowy path. In the ivy that stretched between the trees, he could see the belligerent movement of Red Caps, but they were just keeping guard. After all, what good were the walls of a Maze if you could just cut them away and walk through?

There was a tug on his sleeve, and Corky said, "He's moving again."

Teddy nodded.

Borgin, now barely an adult, took a right down another side passage. By they'd caught up with him, he'd changed. Now he was a young man with an impressive mane of red hair.

"Uncle Rufus," Ruthless muttered. "Sorry."

"Fine with me," Maurice said.

We went left, then right, Teddy thought. Rufus Scrimgeour led them down this passage, then took a left further in, and another right. He became Teddy's grandfather, John Lupin, a young man with blond hair and broad shoulders who looked nothing like his son or grandson, but had a way of moving and standing that made them all seem alike anyway. He paused with his head cocked to one side. The walls moved outward, and they were in a clearing, but it wasn't a clearing anymore. Boards formed in the dirt, and rocks became tables. It was the Hogwarts library. John turned down an aisle of books.

"Do any of you know which shelves these are?" Donzo asked.

To Teddy's surprise--she wasn't a regular library denizen, outside of their Animagus studies--Ruthless answered. "It's not all the same," she said, "but I think he's in the Potions aisle in the Restricted Section."

"That would make sense," Teddy said. "Do you think my grandfather...?" But he didn't even finish asking. It was too close to them in history--they'd have known if anything had happened that recently.

He pulled a heavy brown book from the shelf, and it fell soundlessly to the floor, opening to a page with a woodcut drawing of a hospital ward. A young witch was crawling along the floor, her hair falling like a shroud over face. Teddy could see every detail of the page, every--

"We're going in!" someone shouted, and the world suddenly changed around them.

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