The Sugar Quill
Author: FernWithy (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard  Chapter: Chapter 16: Loyalty
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Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard: Chapter Sixteen

Teddy Lupin
and the Forest Guard

Chapter Sixteen:
Loyalty

by FernWithy

"What's going on, Tinny?" Teddy asked across the Flitterbloom he was tending with her on Tuesday morning, after another day of snubs that had now managed to include Bernice, Ken, Roger, and even Zachary, who usually had his head on better.

She bit her lip. "Well... I can't very well... Frankie's a Hufflepuff and..."

"And Hufflepuff loyalty means not trying to help?"

"No, but..." She looked miserably down at the plant and trimmed a few stems. "Frankie started fuming right after you left on Saturday. Said you thought he was stupid and tried to trick him."

"What?"

"I don't know what... He said you thought you were fooling him, pretending to help, but really just thinking he'd forget about it if you played along. Or something like that. You aren't, are you?"

"Well... I can't tell, it's personal, but there's a reason."

"You were trying to fool him, then?"

"For his own good. He'd have done the same for me. He did do the same for me."

"He pretended to help you with something for a long time, then told you it was stupid?"

Teddy blushed. "No. I just--he... well, he told me when I was doing something mad. And I didn't say he was stupid!"

"No, you just acted like it," Tinny said. She bent back over the Flitterbloom, and didn't say anything more than "Pass the pruning shears" for the rest of class.

"Don't worry about it," Corky said later, as they headed down toward Hagrid's cabin with Maurice and Donzo (Maurice had actually been the one to get the invitation; Hagrid had, against all expectations, taken a shine to him since Christmas). "He'll get over it. And the 'Puffs think he's off his rocker. They just don't tell you that. Loyalty."

"Then you're not angry?"

"Let's see," Maurice said, "you used a sneaky technique to get something done. I wonder which House is least likely to be angry at you."

"I'm not angry, either," Donzo said. "Frankie's getting weird."

"And when a guitarist's son says that," Corky pointed out, "it must be really true."

Teddy would have preferred not to talk about the subject at all, as he couldn't very well tell them that he was worried about Frankie, since that would mean telling them everything, and that wasn't his business. To his relief, they reached Hagrid's before anything else was said.

Hagrid was out front with Buckbeak, tossing him ferrets. "Have a go at it?" he asked, offering the basket to Maurice.

"Will he bite me?" Maurice asked.

"Not if yer feedin' 'im. Just give 'im a bow, then, to be safe."

Maurice bowed to Buckbeak, then wrinkled his nose and plunged his hand into the dead ferrets and started tossing.

"Wicked!" Corky said. "What year do we study this?"

"Oh, I don't cover hippogriffs anymore," Hagrid said. "Too ruddy dangerous the governors say. No, Beaky's just a pet." He winked at the hippogriff. "By which I mean an old friend, o' course, Beaky."

Corky circled Buckbeak, looking at with delight. "What do you mean, too dangerous? What does he do?"

"He nearly took a student's arm off," a strident voice said, and all four boys looked at one another and groaned.

"Yeh're meant to be havin' yer detention, Missy," Hagrid said to Honoria Higgs, who was standing on the path to the paddock. "And yeh'd be wise not to be spreadin' old rumors around."

"It's not a rumor. I heard it directly from Mr. Malfoy. He can't believe they've let you bring that animal back to Hogwarts. I shall be writing about it in my first issue."

"Issue?" Teddy repeated.

"Don't get her started," Corky said, affecting an exaggerated shudder. "She doesn't shut up about it."

"Nor do I intend to," Honoria said primly. "The school governors, following his"--she wrinkled her nose at Donzo--"little visit from the press during autumn term, decided not to allow any more coverage in Hogwarts from the outside. And the Daily Prophet insists on more than students' words to print anything about Hogwarts these days, so if there's to be any voice, we'll have to write our own paper. We used to have one, you know, back before the first war. It was called The Weekly Charmer, and I've permission to call it that again, right from its first editor. I'm talking to Professor Slughorn about sponsoring it as soon as I get back from detention."

"And yeh'll do it sooner if yeh actually do yer detention," Hagrid said. "Off with yeh, yeh're meant to be feedin' bowtruckles, and mind yeh don't start steppin' on 'em again."

Honoria turned her nose up and disappeared into the paddock.

Maurice made a face at her back. "She couldn't have ended up in Ravenclaw?"

"We don't want her," Donzo said.

"Maybe she and Phillips would have killed each other, and we wouldn't have to deal with either of them," Corky suggested.

"Don't yeh start with that," Hagrid said. "Yer year's small enough without talk o' killin' each other. There's bin enough killin' to be gettin' on with."

"Tell that to Geoffrey," Maurice said. "He said the other day that the pure-bloods were like the Tsars and had to be got rid of. I went and read about that. There was acid. I don't fancy it."

"I don't think he really means it like that," Donzo said, then awkwardly added, "I live in a dormitory with him. He goes off a lot, but he never says anything about killing anyone. I think he just thinks we should leave or whatnot."

"And go where?" Corky asked.

Donzo shrugged and shook his head, bewildered. "I don't think he's really thought it out. Perhaps he means us all to go to Canada."

"We don't want you," Corky said, and winked.

They managed to avoid Hagrid's cooking by occupying themselves with Buckbeak until dinner, when they all expressed shock and regret at how much time had passed. Honoria, apparently finished with her detention, breezed by them on her way back to the castle without looking at them. When they got to the Great Hall, she'd cornered Slughorn at the Staff Table and they seemed to be having a disturbingly productive talk.

Teddy ended up sitting with Priya Patil for dinner. She'd made a point of being friendly to him since the incident with the Red Caps, and Teddy thought her very nearly as pretty as her older sister Parvati, now that he'd had a good look at her. She seemed to spend quite a lot of time talking about clothes, though. Ruthless, who was across the table, made revolted faces every time Priya turned away.

Just before pudding, Teddy looked over at the Hufflepuff table and saw Frankie get up and duck off in the direction of the library. Teddy excused himself from Priya's tale about a huge sale at Gladrags and followed him.

By the time he caught up, Frankie had walled himself in behind three stacks of books. Teddy pulled out a chair and sat down, peeling two randomly from the top of the center stack (Power Lines: Where Muggles Know Magic and something that seemed to be written in Ancient Runes). Frankie snatched them back and returned them to the pile. "You're not really helping, Lupin."

"I'm trying to."

"No, you're not," Frankie sneered. "I should've known when you didn't find anything. You always find something. Clever Teddy Lupin. You just thought you'd stall old Frankie until he stopped thinking he could actually accomplish anything important." He pushed his nose ostentatiously into his book.

"That's mental," Teddy said, and took the books back.

Frankie grabbed them again and slammed them down on the table. "I'm using those. And you already had one of them, though I'm not surprised you don't recognize it. It's not like you were really reading it." He put his hands between two of the book stacks and pushed them apart, looking pugnaciously at Teddy. "What do you think I am, some kind of sidekick who's just been sitting around waiting for you to show up so I can have a mission? You think that being surrounded by war heroes makes you special?"

"What? Frankie, that's--"

"Mental, I know, you already said that."

Teddy stood up. "You kept me out of trouble. I tried to keep you out. What's your problem?" He turned to leave.

"I had a letter from Carny," Frankie said quietly. "She's visiting my Aunt Isolda."

"Oh." Teddy sat back down.

"She says she's riding horses and having fun, but I can't think why she'd be there. No one said anything about it."

"Maybe it's a treat for her," Teddy tried. "With horses and so on."

"Yeah. Sure," Frankie said. "Or maybe Mum and Dad didn't want her there for another go-round about who's being disloyal."

Teddy held out his hand and pointed to Power Lines. "Come on," he said. "Hand it over here. I'll have a real look this time."

After a long time, Frankie handed it over.


Teddy stayed in the library with Frankie until curfew, and Frankie promised to tell the rest of the 'Puffs that things were all right again. "Sorry about that," he said. "They wanted to know why I didn't talk to you, and I just sort of... you know. They already think I'm crackers about this. I didn't want to remind them."

"Will you get steamed again if I say maybe you ought to do some school work instead tonight?"

"No. You're right. I've got Potions, and I'm not one of Sluggy's favorites."

They said good night, and Teddy went back to Gryffindor. He thought enough time had passed for Dad's ring to let him in for another half hour. He wondered if it would take him somewhere Dad thought he needed to be, and give him advice, but it didn't. It was still fun to go back inside of Dad's head and remember his teaching apprenticeship, and a time he and Mum had been undercover in a Muggle school and made friends with the other teachers. They'd played a lot of card games that year, which Teddy normally thought were very boring, but which Dad liked, so they seemed quite interesting through his eyes. Teddy had the impression that his parents were falling in love that year, but Dad had carefully avoided remembering exactly how that felt, much to Teddy's relief. Once the ring had nudged him back to the present, he settled in and did his Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts homework, then amused himself for a little while doing Charms from the book Ron and Hermione had given him for Christmas. Flitwick was planning to start a new dueling club next year, and was quite keen for Teddy to be in it. Teddy wasn't sure about it.

The 'Puffs were all right with him over the next few days, but there was still a certain wariness that made Teddy want to shake them. Had Mum been like that? Or Granddad?

On Thursday morning, he had a letter back from James, with one tucked in from Uncle Harry telling him that James had been quite over the moon getting a letter of his own, and wondering what had prompted Teddy to write it. Teddy wrote back during lunch and told him about the ring--including Dad's built-in caution against getting lost in it--and added everything he'd learned about Uncle Harry's father. This took fifteen minutes. The remainder of the hour was spent on the last paragraph:

I'm having a bit of trouble with Frankie--just a little fight--and he thinks I thought he was stupid or something along that line. I don't suppose you know of a good way to fix things? Frankie says it's all right now, but I suddenly don't have a lot of friends in Hufflepuff, and that's my mum's House.

It seemed nondescript enough and didn't get into Frankie's business, so he sealed it and sent it back with the post owl that had brought James's letter. Uncle Harry's letter back came on Saturday, and said that, lacking any information on it, he thought the best thing to do was wait it out. Ron had apparently also got angry for no reason on occasion, and it always passed. I know it's difficult, since it's your mum's House, but think of it this way--you of all people should be quite grateful that Hufflepuffs are loyal even when someone is acting like a prat.

This wasn't especially helpful, though the thought of Dad acting like a prat--something Uncle Harry had told Teddy very carefully years ago that he did on more than one occasion, in case he heard it less kindly from someone else--while Mum patiently pruned Flitterblooms like Tinny heartened him a little bit. He thought he was acting more like Mum than the 'Puffs were, though. She'd expected Dad to come around, after all.

He met Frankie at the library after lunch. Frankie had taken down the picture of Mum's first year group, and it was propped up against the books. In it, Mum was morphing her nose for everyone--Teddy morphed back at the picture, and it laughed soundlessly--and Sanjiv was making faces.

"I may be wrong about the Forest," Frankie admitted. "I can't think of a good reason why a soul that was taken in London would be drawn all the way up here, but it might have gone to one of the other magical places. Stonehenge, or Tintagel. They're not close, exactly, but they're closer. It could be attractive. Or maybe there's somewhere in London proper. I can't think where, though; it's all nearly buried under concrete."

Teddy tapped his quill beside today's book and looked at Mum and Sanjiv in the picture. He thought maybe the dead could help the Demented out--sort of like a job, since he reckoned they'd need something to do; especially after seeing their memories, he didn't think either of his parents would fancy sitting about on a cloud, playing harps and occasionally checking in on him--but if it was easy, he didn't think Mum would have left Sanjiv wandering around for so long. "Have you talked to the ghosts?" Teddy asked.

"No, that's brilliant," Frankie said. "Let's find the Friar. He likes me."

Teddy briefly wished that he'd brought the Marauder's Map with him to make it easier to find someone, but didn't really want to bring it into this business.

They closed up their books and left them (earning an exasperated look from Madam Pince, who muttered something about getting all of that out and barely using it as they passed), and headed down to the antechamber outside the Great Hall, where Frankie said that the Fat Friar could often be found with ghostly friends. He wasn't there, but a buxom ghost called Rosmerta, who'd run the Three Broomsticks until she died in battle, said that she'd seen him haunting the Charms classroom all morning. "I would take you," she said, "but I mean to talk to the elves about their serving technique. They should smile more when they can't escape without being seen." She floated off in a vague way toward the kitchen.

Teddy led the way to the Charms classroom, and they found the Friar kneeling near the blackboard.

"Brother Francis?" Frankie said.

The Friar rose, smiling. "Ah, Frankie. And Teddy Lupin. How good to see you! This was a chapel in my day, you know. I once married a pair of students in here. The girl's father wasn't happy with me." He moved his rosary beads, and Teddy saw a smudge of small, round bruises. Apparently, he'd been strangled with them. "An ancestor of yours, I believe, Teddy. Andromeda wasn't the first in her line to disappoint the Blacks by her marriage! But that was a long time ago. Did you need advice of a spiritual nature?" he asked eagerly.

"We're trying to find out what happens to Demented souls," Frankie said. "While their bodies are still alive. Do you know if they're like ghosts?"

The Friar sighed. "I know they are quite distinctly not like ghosts," he said. "We have all chosen to remain, to serve as we can among our former fellows"--Teddy didn't think this quite fit with what Uncle Harry had said about ghosts being just shadows, afraid to move on, but he didn't mention it, thinking it might be rude--"while those whose souls have been ripped from them were given no choice. It is possible, of course, that they've gone on..."

"Do you think they have?" Teddy asked.

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because I have never heard of any instance where one has chosen to stay," the Friar said. "Anecdotal, perhaps, but having experienced a moment of choice, I cannot believe that no soul taken by the Dementors, often at the prime of life, would have chosen a ghost's existence. Perhaps the majority wouldn't, but there should be at least one or two. I would have expected it of several who died in Azkaban, who I cannot imagine would anticipate a happy continuation... beyond. So I must conclude that they are not faced with the choice, that they are not properly separated from their bodies."

Frankie leaned forward avidly. "How would we find a soul like that?"

The Friar, who seemed taken aback, said, "My son, why would you occupy yourself with such a question?"

"For Sanjiv. Don't you remember him? My mum and dad's friend."

"Of course I remember him. But his soul is not your responsibility."

"My mum thinks it's hers," Frankie said.

"I see." The Friar looked at Teddy. "And you?"

"I'm helping. Sanjiv was my mum's friend as well."

This earned a suspicious look. "It's not... other souls... that you seek?"

"No," Teddy said, "I'm just looking for Sanjiv."

"Teddy's just helping me," Frankie said. "He thinks I'm mad and wishes I'd stop."

The Friar turned back to him, his usually jovial face quite serious. "You would be wise to listen to people who care about you. This is not a task for the living, let alone for children."

"Well, then whose is it?" Frankie demanded. "If their souls haven't been separated, then they're not dead yet, which means they're living."

"But their souls have been taken," the Friar said. "The connection between the soul and the body is a deep mystery. We understand something of it, but not all of it. These souls seem to be trapped."

"Or destroyed?" Teddy asked, and saw Frankie's pained expression only from the corner of his eye.

"It's possible," the Friar told him. "But unlikely. The soul isn't a potato to be digested. It ought to regroup and recover. Only the owner of a soul can damage it irreparably." He looked unsure.

"So you do think they're trapped," Frankie said. "A sort of soul-prison..."

"That's not entirely what I said."

"And if we freed them, they'd come back to their bodies."

The Friar shook his head, looking bewildered. "A soul cannot return to a body that it has left. If these souls are freed..." He stopped. "There are no answers to your question, my son. I'm sorry."

"There are answers," Frankie said. "We just haven't found them." He turned and left.

Teddy looked at the Friar. "I have to go with him."

"Of course you do." The Friar nodded raised his hand to bless Teddy (Teddy braced himself for the cold touch). "Peace be upon you," he said, and turned back to the blackboard.

Teddy went out after Frankie.


The next few days were frustrating. Frankie became enamored of the idea of staging a mystical soul-prison break, but as no one had accomplished it before, there was nothing to look up. Teddy sat up with him and helped him with what he called "preliminary experiments" in Charms, which all seemed to involve releasing trapped energy in one way or another. He didn't seem to be sleeping much, and tended to snap when something didn't work as planned. Teddy reminded himself that Mum had been patient, and tried to emulate her. He found one of Dad's memories, about Mum--who had never been a good housekeeper--cleaning up the Shrieking Shack a little bit at a time, and imagined himself doing the same, slowly and methodically reclaiming something hopelessly broken.

He ignored the fact that his parents had been forced to re-destroy it and move out when Gringotts foreclosed on it right after their marriage, forcing them first into a tiny London flat, then finally into Granny's house.

School life continued, and Teddy managed well enough. He found himself spending more time with Ruthless in the Gryffindor Common Room, playing Exploding Snap and chess, or working on homework problems together. She'd been keeping a close and suspicious on on the business with the impending school newspaper, as she'd heard Honoria's "werecub" slurs against Teddy, and claimed to be waiting for a good excuse to Curse her.

"I think we should draw straws," she said four days after Teddy and Frankie had talked to the Fat Friar. She dropped 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. "I heard her say she's got a whole collection of those 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 Honoria 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 Teddy could do to distract Frankie 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 trying 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 it, as he wasn't entirely sure that a third year and a first year were the right ones to rectify the situation. 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 Red Caps 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.

Frankie jumped.

"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 at the base of the door, a kitten's paw was making a beckoning sort of gesture. He held his breath.

Filch passed.

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?"

"Yes."

"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?"

"Sort of."

"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.

//
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