The Sugar Quill
Author: FernWithy (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard  Chapter: Chapter 1: The Great Pre-Hogwarts Orphan Tour
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Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard: Chapter One

Teddy Lupin
and the Forest Guard

Chapter One: The Great Pre-Hogwarts Orphan Tour
by FernWithy

The car making its cautious way up the lane ran perfectly, but it was rusty and a bit dirty, and its faded window stickers became more antique with each passing year. Creeping along the road like a museum relic whose purpose had long since been forgotten, its windows had to be kept open in the summer heat, and bits of music sung by the dead were snatched up into the slipstream and thrown to the wind. Its line at the manufacturer had ended, been re-started, and ended again. It seemed to come from some fantastic, long-gone world, where barefoot girls in bell-bottoms danced on dewy hillsides and long-haired men played guitar by the light of the moon, where they sat together and dreamed soft dreams and sang to the coming dawn. It had, in fact, seen such days, and the tense woman now sitting behind the steering wheel had once been one of the barefoot girls, though if one had tried to tell the boy beside her that, he would have flatly refused to believe it.

In those days, the car had gone out frequently (if not entirely legally), puttering out into the hills for festivals, driven from summer job to summer job by the boy who had once owned it. It had been filled with food to be delivered, laundry to be washed, and ground mulch to be put in. Most of its wear and tear had come in those days, and it hadn't been new when the boy had bought it. When he came of age, he had other ways to move from place to place, ways that were faster and didn't tax his car, and the old friend went into storage until the man's daughter asked to drive it. It had a brief renaissance then, gaining a tape player and a pile of long-melted tapes that rattled around under the passenger seat (all of them showing squeaky voiced singers in colorful clothes), then went back into storage until the girl was a young woman, and needed it for one specific purpose. During this period of activity, the car had been washed and polished, and it had gained a parking permit sticker, now faded, for a school called "Smeltings," whose crest showed various types of metal being worked. That young woman had driven smoothly, with a graceful dexterity of movement that she had never mastered in her independent locomotion.

The woman now driving--the boy's wife, the young woman's mother--had known the car through all of its phases, but had never driven it before this year. Now she drove with the pale, nervous concentration of a teenager making her first attempt. The boy beside her knew better than to try and talk to her; last time he'd done so, she'd pulled over and lectured him for nearly ten minutes about letting her keep her head before she got them both killed. She'd finally grumbled something about putting fireplaces in the train station--though that wasn't where they were headed today; this was just practice--and pulled back out into traffic.

The boy looked at the mirror that stuck out of the car like a raised thumb, and stared at his own reflection. Concentrating, he turned his hair purple, then gold, then orange, then--

"TEDDY!"

The car swerved onto the verge, and Teddy Lupin's grandmother, the formidable Andromeda Tonks, screeched to a stop and turned to Teddy, eyes blazing. "You can be seen in this car," she said. "Honestly. How many times do I have to--" But the words caught in her throat. Teddy knew why. They'd only been driving for a week, going here and there to practice for the trip to London with all of his luggage in September, and she'd never told him anything about not morphing in the car. The scold had been to the ghost of a girl who had once sat here, or in the family's other, more respectable, car, changing her hair color as her son now did, possibly attracting attention from those who shouldn't have seen her doing so.

Teddy glanced out the window to make sure there were no Muggles looking out of their windows, at least not close enough to see clearly, and turned his hair sandy brown.

"Take the gray out," Granny said. "It looks a bit silly on an eleven-year-old."

Teddy hadn't put the gray in on purpose--it was just a bad habit he'd picked up looking at old photographs of his father--but he didn't bother making the argument. He just changed it. He thought that, gray aside, this was probably his real color.

Granny took a deep breath, then shook her head. "I'm sorry, Teddy. This driving business makes me nervous, and this is the furthest we've gone yet. I didn't mean to snap. I think we're running late--we should have left by dawn, I'm sure--and I'm sorely tempted to just park this... thing... and Apparate both of us over to Molly and Arthur's."

"It's all right, Granny," Teddy said. "I like riding."

She looked at him very dubiously, then turned the key in the ignition and went back out onto the road. Teddy looked out the window and watched the south of England roll by. He'd definitely got used to this over the past few days, as everyone in their circle of friends had sent notes saying that they just had to see him before he went off to Hogwarts. It was a sort of concentrated version of his whole life, which was filled with adults who went out of their way to make sure he was seen and spoken to as often as was humanly possible. "We want to make sure," he'd once heard his godfather's wife say, "that Teddy knows he's not alone." Teddy had been five then, and hadn't quite grasped the idea that Uncle Harry wasn't going to come back and live with him and Granny again, after the big party where the red-headed girl wore a pretty white dress.

It turned out that there were a lot of people who wanted Teddy to know he Wasn't Alone. He loved all of them and wasn't sorry to see any of them on the Great Pre-Hogwarts Orphan Tour (and he desperately wanted to ask Uncle Harry about a blank piece of parchment he'd received by Owl Post yesterday morning, with instructions not to mention it to his grandmother), but sometimes, all the assurances and hugs and pats on the back made him wonder if normal eleven-year-olds would get the same sort of treatment. He certainly seemed to be more hugged than nine-year-old Victoire Weasley, though he supposed that could just be because no one wanted to hug her. She'd probably tell them that they weren't doing it properly and then spend an hour explaining how their arms were in the wrong place, and it would certainly be done better in France. Teddy's dearest hope was that she would follow her love of France to Beauxbatons in two years, instead of following him to Hogwarts.

The car crested a hill, and Teddy looked down into the garden of the Burrow, where a rather large crowd of people had got together. There were three Muggle cars, but many more guests than would be accounted for by them. It looked like all of the Weasleys and Potters were here, even though he'd already seen Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny and their children twice this week. Bill and Fleur Weasley were here with their girls (and little Artie), as well as Ron and Hermione and their children, George and his Muggle wife (who was very, very big in the stomach just now), and he was willing to bet that Percy was somewhere nearby with a lecture waiting, and... yes, there was Charlie, who had brought a baby dragon to show off. There were more people who Teddy thought of as family, though he wasn't entirely sure how they were related, including two Hogwarts teachers--who he'd have to get used to calling Professor Hagrid and Professor Longbottom soon enough--and old Professor McGonagall, who had retired to, as far as Teddy could tell, follow Quidditch matches around the country. There were others, too, but he couldn't see everyone from here.

The car came to a bouncing stop, and Granny took a deep breath and pulled the keys from the ignition. "That's that," she said. "I think I'll ask Arthur to put more safety charms on it while we're here..."

They got out of the car, and Teddy had to duck from a sudden onslaught of small people running awkwardly at him. Five year old James Potter caught him around the legs, and his younger brother Al tried to follow, but toppled over onto Teddy's feet, which he enthusiastically hugged. Al's cousin, Rose Weasley, who was the same age, managed not to fall over, then grabbed Teddy by the hand and grinned up at him, making a strange sort of noise between her teeth. A Weasley cousin Teddy thought belonged to Percy launched himself at Teddy's midsection, driving him back into the car.

Teddy collapsed under the laughing pile, feeling warm and happy, if a bit dazed by the attack. He plucked Al up off of his feet and lifted him up to the crook of his arm as he stood up. James, not wanting to be left behind, hooked his fingers over Teddy's arm, and started telling a story about going flying with his father, which seemed to involve a dragon, a doxy, and quite possibly a Muggle submarine.

"You ought to have a hippogriff in that," Teddy said when James seemed finished. "It would be even better if you took Buckbeak next time."

James, looking delighted, ran off, flapping his arms like a hippogriff in flight.

"A hippogriff?" Harry Potter said, coming up the hill to greet him, smiling slightly. He hugged Teddy awkwardly around Al, who refused to be budged. "Come on, Teddy, you can do better than that. Give him a dragon."

"He already had one," Teddy said, and grinned. "Hi, Uncle Harry. Again." He looked at his grandmother, who had got involved in a conversation with Molly Weasley and wasn't paying any attention, and said, "Did you send me the, er... parchment thing?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"Is it a present?"

"No. It belongs to you. It belonged to me, and I hope when you no longer need it, you'll pass it to the next person to whom it belongs, though as that person's parent, you ought not tell me if you do."

"A piece of parchment."

Uncle Harry grinned. "Just wait until you get your wand, Teddy. You'll see."

Teddy could see that he'd get no further answers, so he just followed his godfather down into the throng of family waiting for him.

He stuck close to Uncle Harry as they entered the crowd, feeling a little awed at the number of people here. There were nearly as many as had come to Uncle Harry's birthday party, and that had been shared with Neville Longbottom, so everyone who cared about either of them had been there. Teddy guessed that this wasn't all about being a goodbye party for himself, but he couldn't think what else it was.

"Teddy! Teddy!"

He ground his teeth, then turned and smiled. "Hi, Vicky."

Victoire Weasley straightened up and sniffed. "Victoire. Are you having trouble pronouncing it? I could teach you. I speak French with Maman every day."

Beside him, Uncle Harry's jaw was twitching with a laugh that he wasn't letting out, and Teddy felt his face burning. He morphed to cover up the color.

Victoire looked at him oddly. "Why did you make your face purple?"

"I, er... well..."

"It really doesn't suit you," she said, then flounced away to play with Percy and Penelope's oldest son, a fey seven-year-old named Gideon.

Uncle Harry let the laugh out in a snort, then leaned down and said, "You might want to check that morph, Ted." He Conjured a mirror and handed it over.

Victoire hadn't been exaggerating; his face hadn't gone the beet-purple of a deep blush, but an actual sort of royal purple. He concentrated on it, imagining his face back to its normal shade, and finally got it there. By the time he'd finished, Uncle Harry had wandered off to talk to George Weasley and his wife, and a group of other people who Teddy didn't know, and couldn't possibly be there for him.

"They are here for you, you know."

Teddy blinked and looked over his shoulder, where a kind-looking blonde woman with very large pale blue eyes was looking down at him. He recognized her dimly from pictures. "Luna Lovegood?" he asked.

She nodded serenely, and didn't correct him on the name, though she wore a gold band on one of her fingers. "We all came for you. You're the first."

"The first, er... what?"

"The first of our children to go back to Hogwarts," someone else said, coming up on Teddy's other side. He looked to see, of all people, Professor McGonagall, leaning on a walking stick. She Transfigured a rock into an easy chair and sat down in it. "The school's had a bit of a rest from the Order, but now you're going. You were born at the darkest hour, Mr. Lupin. And you're perfectly fine, and going on to school, just as we'd all hoped you would."

"So you're all here celebrating me making it to eleven? It's not like anyone's after me..."

"A matter which is also one for celebration," McGonagall said curtly. "Though, to be fair, we're also celebrating the end of the last of the repairs to the school. You'll be going to Hogwarts as it was intended to be. As Molly and Arthur had this party planned anyway, it seemed a good chance to celebrate both." She raised her hand, and a group of strangers came over. "Hestia, Dedalus, Arabella... have you met Remus and Tonks's son, Teddy?"

"This is Teddy?" the older woman said. "Why, I think he looks just like Remus!"

"No, no," the man said, pointing at Teddy's face. "Look, you can see a lot more of Nymphadora, right through the--"

"Ahem." Everyone looked up. Granny's lips were pursed. "Teddy," she said, "is a Metamorphmagus, and looks like whomever he chooses to at the moment. He is neither Dora nor Remus, and you won't find either of them hiding under his hairline, no matter how much it needs a trim, or at least a neater morph."

"It's all right, Granny," Teddy mumbled. He'd hoped that these people would have a few good stories of his parents once they finished prodding him, but he could tell by their red faces that Granny's scolding had put them off any further mentions of Remus or Dora Lupin. He made his excuses and snuck off, but hooked back around to listen. He could see McGonagall's face; Granny was turned away from him. The other three shifted awkwardly, then seemed to all simultaneously notice different friends, wave, and wander off (the woman called Arabella actually waved to the hedge, and looked a bit lost when she got there).

McGonagall raised an eyebrow and said, "You surprise me, Andromeda."

Granny took a deep breath. "Teddy is himself. I won't have any of us putting these expectations on him. Neither my daughter nor my son-in-law would want him to re-shape himself to replace them."

"I see." McGonagall raised her wand, and the chair she was sitting in expanded into a sofa. "Will you sit with me for a while, Andromeda? It's been a long time since we talked."

"Why does this sound like the prelude to a lecture?" Granny asked, but her voice had lost its cool edge. She sat down comfortably on the sofa and Summoned a glass of wine from a table in the garden.

"You always had a sharp tongue when you chose to," McGonagall said. "Arabella and Dedalus meant no harm. We always look for what's familiar when we meet someone new."

"Trust me, Minerva--as Bellatrix Lestrange's sister, I'm familiar with the concept. It's never done me any favors."

"No one is mistaking Teddy for Death Eaters."

"But they are expecting him to replace Remus and Dora. I work very hard not to do that. I want him to discover who he is, Minerva..."

Teddy sighed, and moved away. It wasn't the first time he'd heard this speech. He cast around for anyone else close to his age--anyone who wasn't trying to teach him French and criticizing his looks--but came up empty. Most of the younger children had age mates; that was one thing Teddy was looking forward to at school. He'd never actually met someone who was the same age he was. Frankie Apcarne--the son of his mother's friends, Daffy and Maddie--was two years older than he was, and their daughter Dorasana (universally called "Carny") was almost four years younger. The Weasley and Potter children, with the exception of Victoire, were very far from his age. The idea of being around a lot of other boys his own age sounded like fun, and, according to Uncle Harry, his father had found good friends his own age at Hogwarts, so why shouldn't Teddy?

He wandered through the party, listening to scraps of conversation among adults.

"...and of course Ernie said..."

"...that the bloody regulatory commission is going to put me out of business..."

"...and I couldn't believe what she did to her hair, that potion-maker ought to be glad he didn't lose his license..."

"...to go in front of the Wizengamot and try to get poor Vivian Waters an apprenticeship in the Department of Mysteries, but... Oh, hello, Teddy."

Teddy smiled at Hermione Weasley, who was fretting at Rose's hair and shaking her head disbelievingly at Aunt Ginny. "Who's Vivian Waters?" he asked. "Why don't they give her an apprenticeship?"

"Vivian is, er..." Hermione looked at Aunt Ginny, then said, "Well, she's actually... er... well..."

"She's a werewolf," Aunt Ginny said. "Your father once helped her. She couldn't go to Hogwarts because of it, and now she can't get an apprenticeship because she couldn't go to Hogwarts."

"How did my father help her?"

"He got her away from--" But Aunt Ginny stopped sharply as Hermione's foot slammed into her shin. "All right, another time. When you're older."

"Are werewolves allowed now?" Teddy asked.

"Er..." Hermione started, then said. "Well, not yet. But soon. Not that there are any your age trying this year. I suppose we'd need someone to try before we could make a law."

"I'm half-werewolf," Teddy offered. "Maybe they could try to stop me, and you could make them let me in, as I've already had my letter." Entranced with the idea, he morphed hair out of his face, sharpened his teeth, and growled. "Do you think it would scare them?"

Hermione went white, then gave him a tight smile. "Please don't morph like that, Teddy," she said.

Teddy put his face back. "Sorry."

She smiled and ruffled his hair. "No, I am. Come on. I think Molly's about ready to feed us all."

Teddy let her lead him to the table where Uncle Harry and Ron were playing chess, and Uncle Harry greeted them warmly. "I think Ron's got me trapped here," he said. "Do you want to take over, Teddy?"

"Oh, and the noble Harry Potter lets the eleven-year-old lose," Ron said, grinning.

Teddy examined the board, said, "Why should I lose?" and moved one of Uncle Harry's rooks to put Ron in check. Ron's grin disappeared, and he hunkered down over the board. They played until the dishes started floating out, then both of them lost interest (Ron's bishop allowed Teddy's queen to get the checkmate, and as they put the game away, Ron's king was wailing about being betrayed for a plate of chicken).

Granny and Professor McGonagall joined their table for lunch, looking like their talk had got much more pleasant than it had been when Teddy had stopped eavesdropping. The Potter children piled themselves around Aunt Ginny while Uncle Harry helped Mrs. Weasley bring out the food, and the Weasley children crowded onto Ron's lap while Hermione tried one more time to get Rose's hair in order. They tucked into the meal as soon as it flew over to the table. Teddy had always liked coming here to eat.

He'd got into a long talk with little James, which involved the possibility of sea serpents on Mars, and hadn't really been paying attention when he heard Granny talking about tomorrow's plans.

"London," she was saying when he happened to look her way. "I'm so nervous about taking the car, but it's best to try the traffic before I have to make the train on time. I think we should leave before sunrise on the first."

"You're going to Diagon Alley, then?" Uncle Harry asked, and grinned at Teddy. "I remember going to get my school things for the first time. It's very exciting." He pointed to Hagrid, who was sitting on the stone wall, chatting with Dedalus over a turkey leg. "Hagrid took me. Are you looking forward to it?"

Teddy nodded. "I've been before, though. Not as much new for me to see."

"I thought we'd save the apothecary for last," Granny said. "Nothing worse than dragging potions ingredients around all day. But I haven't heard much about how long it will take at Ollivander's since his granddaughter took over. Should we set aside a good amount of time for a wand, or does she have a quicker system?"

"I don't need a wand," Teddy said.

"Trust me, Teddy," Aunt Ginny said. "You won't get far without one."

"No," he told her, "I mean, I was just going to carry my mum's or my dad's. May I have the salt, please, Granny?"

He held up his hand and waited for the salt to zoom down, but it didn't come. He glanced up to see his grandmother looking pale and taut, and the rest of the table sitting in awkward silence.

Teddy looked from one face to another, uncomfortably aware that most of them were gazing at him with pity. "Er..." he started, and looked to Granny, who's nose was flaring. "I, well, that's to say, I thought I would... I..." He frowned. "I won't break them. I promise. I thought they were... mine."

"They are," Granny said thinly. "They belong to you as a memory, Teddy. But you should use your own wand in school. We'll go to Ollivander's first."

All of the adults looked at each other awkwardly, then Al Potter picked up a butter knife and said, "A-ko. A-ko," while pointing it at a piece of chocolate cake. Uncle Harry, his wand hand hidden, flew the cake over in response to the "Summoning Charm." Al clapped, and James gave him a cheer, and then the adults slowly started talking again, about other things. Granny looked down at her plate and didn't join them.

She reached across and squeezed Teddy's hand. "Sorry," she said.

Teddy shrugged, feeling like there was a very large rock on his shoulders as he did so, and went to get another cup of pumpkin juice from the big table where Mrs. Weasley had laid out all of the extra food. Victoire ran up to join him from the table where she was sitting with her parents, grandparents, and her uncle Charlie, who now had a box on the table with little holes cut in the side. It wasn't on fire, so Teddy guessed it probably wasn't another baby dragon.

"Have you got in trouble?" she asked brightly, looking at the table he'd come from. "Everyone seems quite angry at you. You can come to our table if you want. Uncle Charlie's got--"

"A surprise!" Charlie Weasley called, cutting her off. "Honestly, Vicky!"--Victoire pretended to cringe, though Charlie had never, to Teddy's knowledge, called her anything but Vicky--"What I've got, Teddy will find out about soon enough." Shaking his head, he got up and went to Granny, whispering something to her.

"What is it?" Teddy asked Victoire.

"A surprise," she said, putting her nose in the air.

"What sort of surprise?"

"You'll see."

Teddy finished pouring his pumpkin juice, and when he looked back at his table, Granny was smiling and nodding. Charlie Summoned the box, then stood on the bench beside Granny. "Attention, attention. I need one"--he pretended to check a scroll--"Teddy Remus Lupin, if such a person is anywhere nearby."

Teddy stepped up curiously. "What is it?"

"I own a cat," Charlie said.

"I, er... didn't know."

"A grand animal," Charlie went on. "Named Keys, as I left him with Hagrid the first time I went home, as I hadn't quite asked Mum's permission, and Hagrid was Keeper of Keys."

"I sneezed for two weeks!" Hagrid called good-naturedly.

"It was a grand sacrifice for him," Charlie acknowledged. "Now, Keys is getting on in years now, but still happens to be one of the friendliest cats in all of Europe." There was some snickering amongst the adults. Charlie went on. "Yes, Keys has friends in many places. Especially on a particular farm near the dragon preserve, where he is most warmly received, and just before I headed out, the lady who owns it came to me with a very special present that Keys left for her." He opened the box, and now Teddy could hear the high-pitched mewing of kittens. "She seemed to think there are quite enough cats in the neighborhood who look like this, and thought they might be fine and welcome additions to the British cat population instead. And so, in honor of your upcoming start of school, Teddy Lupin, you get to choose first to take along as your own pet. It's already been cleared with the Dear Lady." He nodded and winked at Granny.

Teddy looked over the edge of the box--which was roomier on the inside than the outside, and lined with fluffy pillows--and saw three kittens, all chasing a feather that Charlie had Charmed for them. Two of them were brownish and short-haired. The third had patches of color on his back and white feet, and Teddy thought he looked like Granny's old cat, Bludger. This one was blinking and batting at something in front of his eyes, and Teddy realized that one of his littermates must have scratched him, leaving a bit of blood. He reached in and cleaned it out. The Bludger-cat caught his hand and held on. He had great yellow eyes, and Teddy fancied that he was smiling.

"Do we have a winner?" Charlie asked, grinning.

Teddy smiled, and picked up the little scrap of fur. He nodded. "I like this one. He's mine."

"Well," Charlie said, "you probably ought to know that he's a she, before you name her."

Feeling better--like the conversation about wands hadn't happened--Teddy gathered up his new friend (Victoire and James started arguing over the other two) and went to sit by Granny, who looked teary again, though she didn't say why. After a while, she said that this one was going to have a bit of a charm done before she went to Hogwarts, so that she wouldn't be quite as friendly as her father.

There were a great number of naming suggestions over the next half hour. Victoire kept suggesting French names like Chérie or Jolie, which Teddy thought would guarantee him a life of being picked on if he said them in front of other boys in a dormitory. James suggested "Martian Seamonster Potter," and Hermione started going through a book for historical names. Granny tried to go with the family game pattern (Bludger's brother and sister had been Quaffle and Snitch), coming up with Gobstone, Fanged Frisbee, Exploding Snap (which Teddy rather liked, but the cat refused to answer to, even when shortened to Snapper), and Football. It was finally Ron who named her, though it was accidental--he'd got the chess board back out and started playing another game with Uncle Harry, who had promptly lost. Uncle Ron cried, "Checkmate!" and the kitten bounced and chased her tail, then crawled up Teddy's arm and enthusiastically bumped her head against his face.

"Checkmate?" Teddy tried dubiously.

Checkmate purred very loudly and tried to bury her head between his jaw line and his shoulder. Victoire declared it a very silly name for a cat, outdoing it a moment later, in Teddy's opinion, by naming her own "Beau chaton," as if saying it in French made it mean anything other than "Beautiful kitten," which was a hundred times more stupid than "Checkmate." He immediately started calling it "Bushy," which made her go back to her table and pout.

James would not be put off from naming the third kitten "Martian." "They're brother and sister," he said to Teddy, wide-eyed, as the sun set and Granny started to get the car back in order. He looked solemnly at his own baby sister, Lily, and said, "They must always know one another. Will you come with Checkmate when they visit?"

Teddy allowed that he didn't think his kitten would be making any trips without him, then had to remind James that neither of them would be there for Bonfire Night this year. James was still crying over this injustice when Teddy kissed the family goodbye and got back into Granny's car.

"I'm sorry about the wands," Granny said when she'd got onto a long stretch of straight road. "A wand is the most personal thing a wizard owns, and it should be his own. Do you understand?"

Teddy didn't, but nodded.

"But if you want something of your mum's, which she took everywhere with her, you may have the basket and toys she used for her cat."

Teddy smiled. "My mum had a cat?"

"Named Granny, after her Granny Tonks. I thought you might have seen her stone in the back garden when we buried Snitch last year." Teddy remembered seeing it, next to a very ancient stone that said "Dodger," but as it hadn't struck him as a cat's name, he hadn't realized that she was part of the family's pet cemetery. "She died of very old age not long after your parents got married. She was Bludger's mum." Granny chanced looking over at Checkmate, who was sleeping on Teddy's shoulder. "She was also Keys's mum, which means that you've got Granny's grand-kitten there. Does that help a bit?"

Teddy didn't know why it made him feel especially happy to have his mother's cat's kin with him, but it did. He scratched between Checkmate's ears and listened to her purr.

It was late by the time they pulled around the pond and up to the garage beside the house, and Granny didn't bother trying to drive into it, instead just charming the car and several objects along the wall to make room for one another before they went inside. They got Checkmate set up in her basket (or at least got the basket ready for her; she would hide under Teddy's bed, behind an old trainer, for most of the next two days). They fed her tuna fish the first night, and Granny promised to stop at the menagerie tomorrow, after Ollivander's, to get her proper food.

By the time Teddy went to bed, he was ready to drop on his feet, and sleep took him quickly. He found himself in the house alone, except for Checkmate, who was chasing her tail in front of the door to Teddy's old nursery. Teddy rarely went in there now--it was a baby room, but neither he nor Granny wanted to repaint it, as Teddy's father had made beautiful charmed drawings all over it, and they didn't want to lose them--but he went in now without hesitating. The chair beside the crib was empty. From the ceiling, the giant butterfly swooped across, bending at the right angle of the wall and going around Teddy. The mooncalves danced behind the crib, and Teddy noticed that the crib wasn't empty. It was full of a small baby with a shock of green hair, his fist curled around a very old stuffed rabbit. A framed photograph of a kind-faced man was placed behind an Unbreakable Charm, and the baby was reaching one fat fist toward it.

Teddy backed away, then gave an involuntary gasp. The chair was now occupied by a beautiful young woman with a heart-shaped face who seemed to be asleep and dreaming badly. She opened her eyes and put her hand to her heart and said, "Oh, thank God, only a dream, only a..." But then she looked at the low table where all of the baby's things were--looked at it for a long, long time.

She held up one hand and looked at it curiously, and Teddy was suddenly cold, cold to the core of himself.

She looked over her shoulder, then looked back at the crib. "Teddy," she whispered, her voice full of sorrow. "My own Teddy."

The baby woke up and looked straight at her, and as he did, she faded, reaching out one last time, touching his outstretched arm, disappearing...

The baby kept his arm up, and Teddy could see something glowing there, some trace of magic, then something sharp dug into his foot, and he looked down to see Checkmate attacking his toes, only he was back in his own bed now, and the sun was rising, and Checkmate was mewing for her breakfast between swipes of her claws.

He pushed back his covers, set aside his dream, and got ready to equip himself for Hogwarts.


Thanks to Violet Azure and Hallie for the beta and Britpick!

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