and the Forest Guard
Chapter Four: The Smallest Year
Hagrid took a single boat to himself; the first years split into four boats, with the last one only containing three students. Teddy was one of them, the unpleasant brunette was another. The last student was the small, beady-eyed boy with black hair, who identified himself as Maurice Burke, and, without stopping to breathe, added, "Yes, from Borgin and Burke's, but that's my great-uncle and we don't take money from them."
The girl looked at him coolly. "Honoria Higgs," she said, then added, looking at Teddy, "That's Teddy Lupin. He lives with Andromeda Black. His father was a werewolf." She turned back and leaned toward the prow of the boat, looking ahead at the castle.
If the girl hadn't been as rude as she had on the train, Teddy might have asked her how she came to know so much about him, but as it was, he preferred to avoid talking to her altogether.
Maurice gave Teddy an apologetic sort of look and said, "Nice to meet you. Wonder what her story is. She seems to know yours."
"I'm guessing spoilt rotten," Teddy said.
Maurice laughed. "True. If it were anything more interesting, she'd have told us about it at length. Was your father really a--" Maurice stopped and winced. "Sorry."
Teddy waved it off absently as the wind blew, and a cloud passed from the full moon, lighting the castle with a silvery gray glow. The battlements high on one tower seemed brighter, where the stones were newer on the fresh repairs, and the new brass fixtures on the huge doors shone like lamps. These were only the most surface of repairs, Teddy knew--it had taken a decade to repair all of the damage done by the Dark spells that had broken Hogwarts' protections on the night his parents had died--but they stood out, a symbol of defiance. He imagined his parents storming in here, diving into the battle--
"We'd better watch out," Honoria Higgs said. "Who knows what happens to a werecub when it sees the full moon?"
Had Teddy thought for a moment about what he was doing, he probably wouldn't have done it, but he didn't. As Honoria looked over her shoulder smugly, he morphed as he had for Hermione at the picnic, forcing hair out of his face, sharpening his teeth, pointing his ears.
Honoria's composure broke entirely. She scrambled even further toward the front of the boat, which rocked alarmingly, then slipped over the side into the lake. She was halfway to Hagrid's boat before she looked back again to see Maurice Burke doubled over laughing.
Hagrid steered over and fished her out of the water, pulling her up into his own boat.
"He..." she sputtered, looking at Teddy, who had released the morph, and arranged his features innocently (though Hagrid would know well enough). "He frightened me, deliberately."
"Well, he can talk to his Head of House, once he gets one," Hagrid told her amiably.
Teddy smiled, feeling quite satisfied with himself.
The boats carried them silently across the lake. A veil of ivy--magically re-grown three years ago after the Carrows had cursed it during the war--was dead ahead; the boats skimmed under it and slipped into the underground harbor from which first years had been entering Hogwarts for a millennium. They clambered out of the boats onto the shore, then followed Hagrid up onto the grounds, into the shadow of Hogwarts, onto the grounds outside the door, where so much blood had been shed.
"Watch for the Red Caps!" Hagrid said gruffly. "Just give 'em a kick if they get in yer way. Yeh'll all learn to handle 'em yer first week, don' worry, nothin' to worry about..."
Teddy saw a Red Cap scurrying along, its iron-tipped club trailed out behind it, but it didn't come near them. Hagrid led them up the stairs, then the great doors opened, and they crossed the threshold.
Neville Longbottom was waiting for them in the entrance hall, a pleasant smile on his round face. Traditionally, this had been the deputy headmaster's job, but as soon as he'd become a professor, general sentiment had swung sharply toward the idea that he ought to be the one to greet first years, all of whom--well, at least the wizard-born among them--knew the story of his defiance of the Death Eaters, and how the Sorting Hat had been burned on his head.
"The firs' years, Professor Longbottom," Hagrid said.
"Thanks," Neville said, and Teddy corrected himself mentally, forcing himself to think of Neville as "Professor Longbottom." "I'll take them from here."
They nodded to each other at the end of the ritual, then Hagrid hurried inside to the head table.
Neville--Professor Longbottom--led them across the entrance hall, into an antechamber near the Great Hall, and sat them all at a single table that seemed lost in a sea of shadows.
"Welcome to Hogwarts," he said when they got there. "As I'm sure you all know, there are four houses..."
Teddy let the description wash over him; it was certainly nothing new, though Professor Longbottom's kindly voice seemed to calm everyone down.
"Now," he said when he finished, "I understand there was already an incident on the lake?"
Honoria came forward, dripping, and pointed at Teddy. "He scared me. He turned into a werewolf."
Professor Longbottom's face grew cool. "Is that true, Mr. Lupin?"
"I morphed at her," Teddy admitted, but decided not to start his school career by whinging to a teacher about someone being unkind.
"An interesting way you have of honoring your father," Professor Longbottom said. "Reminding people of the thing he hated most."
Teddy looked at the floor, suddenly feeling like he'd rather be the Red Cap outside, skipping mindlessly through the shadows toward the lake.
Professor Longbottom put a hand on his shoulder, and he looked up again. The expression was understanding. "I imagine you had your reasons," he said. Honoria snorted and he dried her clothes with an absent flick of his wand and said, "I don't want to hear about anything like this again." He was not, significantly, looking at Teddy as he said it. "I'll come back for all of you when we're prepared in the Great Hall. You might want to straighten up your robes."
After he left, there was some nervous straightening of clothes, but more nervous glancing at one another. Donzo McCormack seemed to want attention paid to him--kept looking over his shoulder like he expected a crowd to be there--but no one was looking. One boy didn't seem interested in putting on robes at all.
"Excuse me," a girl with curly strawberry blond hair said, "but you really ought to put on the robes."
"Why should I?" the boy said. "All this kowtowing to medievalism is ridiculous. I wouldn't be here if there were any other way to learn about this part of who I am."
"It's your school uniform," another boy said. "Put it on. You'd be doing exactly the same thing if you were in Muggle school."
"How do you know?"
"Do you think you're the only Muggle-born here?"
The first boy looked suspiciously around. "How many of you are like me, then? And just going along with this nonsense?"
Six of the fifteen, including the boy who'd asked, raised their hands.
"Fewer than I was expecting," Honoria sniffed.
"What did you mean?" one of the Muggle-born girls said. "Outside, about the half-bloods and such?"
"Most years, there are a lot of half-bloods," Honoria said. "But the year we were born, there was a dark wizard called Voldemort killing Muggle-borns, so they didn't have children. Other half-bloods left the country, or were at least smart enough not to try to get around pregnant or with a baby--most of them anyway." She looked smugly at Teddy, then sniffed and turned around. "Everyone figured half-bloods would be the next target, once the Muggle-borns were all gone. Even some pure-bloods left. It was dangerous to be here that year." She looked at the boy who had the strange accent. "Your parents went abroad, didn't they?"
"Well, yeah. My mom did, anyway. My dad's from Toronto to start with. They just stayed put."
"My mum's a model," the pretty blond girl said. "My dad's a Muggle. He was taking pictures of her. He said they should stay in Italy until the war was over." She looked suspiciously at the Canadian. "My parents came home after the war, though."
"Any other half-bloods? I mean, other than the werecub."
"Let up on that!" Maurice Burke said. "Anyway, it wasn't just half-bloods who ran. My father and mother headed out to the Falklands right after Cedric Diggory died. Said they saw writing on the wall. Quite a lot of pure-bloods died the first time around, too. A lot of us left."
Donzo shouldered in. "Yes, that's true. My father was on tour and my mother went with him, and as soon as they found out what was happening here, he sent her to live with his friends in the Pondhoppers--don't know if you remember them, big American group, they had quite a hit..."
No one was interested in the Pondhoppers, and Teddy actually felt a bit bad for Donzo, who looked crushed. Two other pure-bloods had got away through what they called "the Quidditch network"--one born to a Quidditch player and the other to a Quidditch manager, both outspoken against Voldemort, they'd been spirited away through international team connections, and seemed to believe Oliver Wood had arranged it. One had been born in Bulgaria and the other in Israel. Honoria claimed to have been born in Gibraltar while her parents were on an extended holiday (which just happened to coincide with the rise of Voldemort, she assured them; they had not fled). Only one of the other wizard-born students, the plain girl with gapped teeth, had been born in Britain. She introduced herself as Tinny Gudgeon ("Ernestine," she muttered when questioned) and quickly deferred to Teddy, saying that her parents weren't brave like his, only careful not to draw attention to themselves in the Ministry.
They'd got so deeply into this conversation (the Muggle-borns--with the exception of the boy who had finally, grudgingly, put on his robes and was now ignoring all of them--were listening with rapt attention, as if to a very good story that they'd missed most of) that they wouldn't have noticed the ghosts coming in at all if it weren't for a Muggle-born girl called Jane screaming.
Teddy smiled. He knew Nearly Headless Nick and the Fat Friar on sight, and they nodded to him happily.
"Ah, here he is!" Nick said. "I hope to see you in Gryffindor!"
"He's sure to be in Hufflepuff," the Fat Friar said.
The Grey Lady and Moaning Myrtle came next, speaking quietly to each other--the Lady had made a motion to allow Myrtle greater haunting privileges in Ravenclaw, and it had apparently improved her disposition--and the Bloody Baron nodded solemnly to the new students. Several other ghosts floated by, then passed through the wall into the Great Hall.
The door opened, and Professor Longbottom came back in. "We're ready for you," he said.
The first years gathered, and he led them in a silent parade to the doors of the Great Hall.
They looked nervously at one another as the doors opened, arranging themselves into something like two lines. Teddy found himself between Tinny Gudgeon and the strident Muggle-born boy who was making a great deal of fuss about how uncomfortable his robes were. The pretty blonde was across from him, chewing absently on her lip. She noticed him looking and smiled widely, then Donzo McCormack was offering her his arm, and she slipped back further in line.
They took their first steps inside.
Teddy had been here before--he'd come for a Quidditch match with Aunt Ginny, who claimed to be scouting for the Harpies but seemed mainly to be enthusiastically cheering the Gryffindor House team, and they'd slipped in for lunch with Professor Longbottom--but it was different now, filled with waiting students, the candles floating in the air above the tables, the tables dressed for the feast, the night sky appearing on the enchanted ceiling. The full moon sat above the highest arch. The strange combination of starlight, moonlight, and candlelight cast everything in deep warmth.
The long House tables stretched to the front of the room, the students waiting for the feast with varying degrees of patience. Toward the front, they'd left empty spaces--many more than would be needed even for a normal-sized class, Teddy thought, with the Gryffindor table looking particularly empty, all of its students crowded to the back--but no one commented on this.
He craned his neck to see around Tinny, and there it was--the Sorting Hat.
It was hard for Teddy to believe that there had been a time that incoming students--wizard-born ones, at any rate--were kept in the dark about how the Sorting was accomplished. The Sorting Hat had been splashed across the pages of the Daily Prophet, photographed and analyzed, debated by the Wizengamot... it was as famous as the Quidditch pitch. Professor Longbottom led them to the spot in front of it and lined them up, giving a few quick cues to students who still needed to straighten themselves up, then turned to the Hat itself and nodded.
The hat's brim tipped down respectfully, and this close, Teddy could see the shadows of its burning, black shapes like flames that writhed over its cloth in the constant motion of memory. The rip at its brim opened, and it sang:
"Once upon a misty time
When Hogwarts school was new
The Founders worked in harmony
And thus their project grew.
Hufflepuff's blood is in the earth,
the living growth you see.
Gryffindor built the battlements
To guard from villainy.
Slytherin made the secret ways
The mysteries to find,
And Ravenclaw built for knowledge
The turrets of the mind.
But even while the Founders breathed
Their Houses felt the strain
Of clashing hopes and warring dreams
And strife too often came.
To keep their four minds in these walls,
And balance to create,
Each mind gave a bit to me
Before it was too late.
Though they moved on, I still remained
And watched the Houses thrive
With new and burning tensions
Each century to rise.
Some tensions came to naught at all
While others led to war
But in the end a darkness rose
Like none that came before."
Teddy saw several of the teachers at the head table shift uncomfortably here, as if they didn't entirely care for what was about to happen. He frowned. The Hat continued its song, softer now, and sadder.
"The House of Hufflepuff stayed true
And its blood first was shed
Their loyal hearts are counted
Among the honored dead."
Above the Hufflepuff table, over the empty seats, several candles abruptly went out, their smoke forming hazy shapes in the air, which spun and drifted. One of them became a boy with a pleasant, handsome face that Teddy recognized as Cedric Diggory's, and he knew what would happen a second before it did--a puff of smoke twirled into a shape with spiky hair and high, Black cheekbones.
"Mum," he whispered, though the girl in the smoke was as she would have been when she had put the Sorting Hat on her own head. All of the figures that were now appearing were eleven years old, clear-faced, and transparent. Teddy felt Professor Longbottom's hand on his shoulder as other shapes of fallen Hufflepuffs appeared and floated away.
The smoke broke apart and drifted, and the Hat went back to its song.
"In the airy tow'r of Ravenclaw,
the final war began
In solving the last mystery,
the fear became mere man."
Candles went out over the Ravenclaw table, forming a boy whose face was, even then, a bit mad and wary--Mad-Eye Moody, unscarred but still somehow wild--a girl who would become the woman Teddy thought had taught Muggle Studies, others he didn't know.
"In the end, the darkness must
Be fought from deep within
And so the secret heroes rose
From shadowed Slytherin."
Fewer candles went out over the Slytherin table, but the two faces Teddy saw were deeply familiar to him--Severus Snape, whose name Uncle Harry's younger son had as his middle name, and Regulus Black, whose picture Granny had placed on the wall beside his brother Sirius's at home, both of them lit by the same candle. Snape and Regulus spun into the smoke and disappeared, along with the handful of other Slytherins who'd found their inner courage to fight what had begun in their own House.
"Bold Gryffindor, as always, took
the deepest cut of all
Their scarlet blood and banner
Laid claim upon this hall."
The light in the Great Hall nearly went out as dozens of candles blinked out of existence at the Gryffindor table, and smoky figures danced toward the ceiling. Teddy tried to get a glimpse of his father, but he was lost in the crowd.
Professor Longbottom squeezed his shoulder and pointed to a spot near the windows, and Teddy saw him, a boy with a thin face and shaggy hair, rendered insubstantial in smoke. He turned once, then disappeared. Teddy smiled at him, not knowing what else he was meant to do. He thought he also caught a glimpse of Sirius Black, looking cheekily down at the crowd, and James Potter, who looked disturbingly like Uncle Harry, and a long-haired boy in old-fashioned robes who Teddy thought with some wonder must have grown up to be Albus Dumbledore. But he couldn't be sure, and couldn't pick anyone else out of the crowd. There were too many.
The Hat waited for the smoke to clear, then finished its song.
"But battles fade into the past
And we, the left behind,
Rebuild and heal, move on and do
The tasks we've been assigned.
Throughout it all, I sort the lot--
It always shall be so.
They even tried to burn me once,
but I refused to go!
So I came back from fiery doom,
Despite a little singe,
To join the future to the past--
I stand upon the hinge!
You'll find a home in Hufflepuff
If your heart is kind and true
If you don't fear toil and love fair play
then Hufflepuff's for you!
For Ravenclaws, the world's a tale
To spin within the mind
A place for those whose thoughts fly free
In Ravenclaw, you'll find.
Slytherin has a subtle soul
And craves respect to win
If you long to prove yourself
Come home to Slytherin!
The broken heart of Gryffindor
Beats bold and pure as flame
If you stand both sure and brave,
then Gryffindor calls your name!
So come now and try me on,
As we've done right from the start,
And I will whisper in your ear
The House that's in your heart!"
There was general applause, though Teddy thought it was a bit subdued. The extinguished candles didn't re-light, but the others drifted slowly around, spreading the remaining light more evenly. Professor Longbottom waited for the applause to end, then came forward, a scroll in his hands.
The Canadian boy stepped up curiously, sat on the stool, and put the hat on his head. It tipped this way and that, then called out, "SLYTHERIN!"
The Slytherin table erupted in a cheer, and Corin was welcomed to an empty seat, not far from where the smoky apparition of Regulus had risen.
"Good luck," Teddy whispered to Maurice, who was still standing near him.
Maurice rolled his eyes, mouthed, "Slytherin," then sat down with the hat, which indeed declared that he was also a "SLYTHERIN!" only a few seconds later. "Chapman, Laura," the pretty blonde with china blue eyes, became the first new Hufflepuff, and "Deverill, Constance"--one of the two who said she'd got away through the Quidditch network--joined the Ravenclaw table.
"Driscoll, Franklin." A boy tripped forward from the back of the group, looking down at the stone floor. He was one of the Muggle-borns, but he hadn't spoken yet. He put on the Hat, and it declared that he, too, was a "RAVENCLAW!"
"Duke, Donald McCormack."
Donzo strode forward importantly, and the loud boy who didn't want to be in his robes snorted, "His name's 'Donald Duke'? No wonder he goes by Donzo."
Teddy turned on him. "Turn it down, mate."
The boy rolled his eyes as Donzo also became a "RAVENCLAW!"
Tinny took a deep breath and stepped forward, smiling at the other first years as she went. Teddy wasn't the least surprised to see her head to the Hufflepuff table a moment later.
"Higgs, Honoria," to absolutely no one's shock, was sent to the Slytherins, and "Hunter, Jane," another of the Muggle-borns, followed her there, which Teddy thought should make for an interesting year in the dungeons.
Professor Longbottom grinned. "Lupin, Teddy."
Teddy hadn't expected to be called quite so soon, and was taken by surprise. He tripped over his shoelace as he headed to the stool, but either no one noticed, or everyone was kind enough not to laugh.
He sat down, took the Sorting Hat, and put it on his head. It still smelled singed, and he could feel the magical motion of the long ago flames against his ears.
"Ah," a voice whispered in his ear. "Yes, I see who you are."
You do? Teddy thought.
"Oh, yes... yes... your mind is very good, you know."
"So many lines end in you. So many..." The Hat trailed off, and Teddy wondered if its near immolation had unhinged it a bit. It laughed. "No, Teddy Remus Lupin. You are merely difficult. Not the first difficult student I've had, or the last. No, you don't suit Slytherin, despite your family. Ravenclaw?... It would stir your mind, of course, but is that who you are?"
I don't know.
"Hufflepuff... you would do well in Hufflepuff... or Gryffindor..."
Teddy wanted to tell it that he'd prefer Hufflepuff, where he already had friends, but some bright fire rose up and stopped the thought from forming.
"Ah..." the Hat said again, sounding more interested. "I see, then, yes. In that case... GRYFFINDOR!"
He knew the Hat had spoken aloud this time, because applause came at last from the Gryffindor table, and a seventh year girl welcomed him warmly to the empty seats as Longbottom called "Lynch, Brendan" (the other "Quidditch network" escapee, Teddy thought) to the stool. Lynch was sent on to Slytherin, and "Palmer, Joseph," went to Hufflepuff.
The belligerent Muggle-born boy went forward, looked dubiously at the Hat, then put it on. It deliberated with him for a very long time, then declared him a "RAVENCLAW!" though Teddy thought it didn't sound enthusiastic. A moment later, "Richardson, Elizabeth," also joined the Ravenclaw table, and the last student, a small, bespectacled boy named "Young, Roger," seemed very happy to be sent to Hufflepuff.
There was a round of applause for the conclusion of the Sorting, but Teddy noticed that it seemed sporadic and confused in his general vicinity.
He looked from side to side, and realized why.
He was the only Gryffindor in his year.
The applause settled down, and suddenly, the tables were laden with food of all sorts. A rich stew that smelled like Shell Cottage in the winter, a steak and kidney pie, a roast turkey, all sorts of potatoes and vegetables...
"Oi, Teddy," an older girl said, "drumstick?"
Teddy nodded and took it, piling mashed potatoes onto his plate with his other hand.
Other older students started to drift down, filling the empty seats, spreading out until Gryffindor looked almost like the other tables. All of them greeted Teddy by name and seemed glad to see him. One fourth year girl, called Edie Abercrombie, expressed great envy of having a whole room to himself, much to the horror of a sixth year prefect, who scolded her for being "insensitive." Teddy waited until the scolding was over, then rolled his eyes and turned his hair deep blue to express sarcastic mourning. This caused a wave of interest in his Metamorphosing, and he spent the rest of the feast making different noses, changing his hair color, and trying to explain that, no, he couldn't become a girl. (He didn't add that he could do a pretty good imitation of one, as long as they didn't look too closely, because he didn't want to spend the next seven years doing it.)
Nearly Headless Nick floated up and down along the table, talking wistfully about the food. He stopped to talk to Teddy for a long time, reminiscing about his father, his godfather, his cousin Sirius, his father's grandmother (a brilliant Muggle-born girl who didn't sound unlike Hermione Granger, who Nick also duly discussed), his father's friends, and every other Gryffindor to whom Teddy had even a tenuous connection. He finally left to do some precision gliding with the other house ghosts as pudding was served.
At last, the feast was over, and Teddy felt good and warm. Professor Sprout, managing to look fly-away and dusty even in the fine robes of a headmistress, stood up at the head table and signaled for attention.
"Welcome back to Hogwarts!" she said. "And a special welcome to all of our new students. Before the term starts, there are some announcements to make, and before the announcements, I would like to acknowledge the hard work of our castle elves to bring you the feast you've just enjoyed."
She gestured with her arm toward a gathering of awkward-looking elves, most wearing Hogwarts tea towels, the one in the center wearing neat chef's whites, with a pillow cap on her head, from which her ears stuck out through holes cut especially for the purpose. She nodded nervously to the students, then said, "Elves, back to the kitchens. There is work to be doing!" They disappeared in unison, to the sound of thunderous applause.
"Very well, very well," Sprout said. "Mr. Filch would like to remind students that the swamp on the fifth floor of the east wing is not to be disturbed, littered in, or otherwise defaced." Teddy smiled to himself; George Weasley, in honor of his brother Fred, had snuck in during a Quidditch match two years ago to make the swamp shoot off fireworks at random intervals. "A list of prohibited items is available in Mr. Filch's office, and has been posted in the library. I would like to remind all of our students"--she looked significantly at the Hufflepuff table--"that the Forbidden Forest is, in fact, forbidden. It is also dangerous."
She gave several more start-of-term announcements, including Quidditch try-outs and club rules, then said, "And I'd like to announce that, for the first time in eleven years, there is no announcement about construction to avoid. Hogwarts castle is once again whole!"
This was met with an explosion of applause that set the candles shaking.
When it died down, the Houses started to get up and gather for the trek to their dormitories. A new prefect--a spotty boy who introduced himself as Andrew Stephens--put his hand on Teddy's shoulder and led him importantly to the front of the line as they climbed the winding staircases to Gryffindor Tower, and stopped in front of a portrait Teddy knew from its reputation as soon as he saw it.
"The Fat Lady!"
"The one and only," Andrew said, then turned to her and said, "Regnum leonis."
The portrait swung open, and Andrew led Teddy Lupin into the Gryffindor Common Room.
It was draped with scarlet hangings, dominated by a great fireplace, perfectly round. Comfortable looking chairs and sofas were scattered around. It was exactly as Teddy had imagined it from Uncle Harry's stories (all of which centered around Quidditch, illegal night-time tromps around the school, and cheating on Divination homework; the most threatening thing to appear in most of Uncle Harry's stories was a troll in the girls' bathroom). The only new thing was a large flowering plant with red and gold blooms that crept up around the fireplace and filled the room with a brilliant scent. A few fairies flitted among the leaves, festooned in glittering Gryffindor colors.
"All right, first years--" Andrew interrupted himself and smiled sheepishly, then dropped his voice. "Er, first year, sorry, been practicing since I got my badge..."
"It's all right," Teddy said.
"Well, you're up here. Girls go up the other staircase, but I don't recommend trying it. It's very noisy, trust me." He led Teddy up a staircase into the tower, stopping at the fifth floor. "Here you are," he said. "Home. It should be set up for you already."
Teddy nodded, thanked him, and stepped into his dormitory, closing the door behind him.
The room was vast and round, with narrow windows set into the walls, looking out over the grounds. A single four-poster bed, flanked by a set of book shelves, sat against the far wall, and Teddy's luggage was set neatly beside it. One small worktable sat near the windows. Checkmate's basket was sitting on the floor (she was just stirring from the enchanted sleep that Granny had put her into this morning), and a helpful elf had already set up her litter tray and food dishes near a window. Teddy leaned down and scooped her up, glad to hear her confused meow and feel her quick heartbeat.
"It's you and me, Checks," he said.
She gave him a gurgling sort of meow, kneaded his shoulder a few times, and went back to sleep.
Teddy walked around the room for a while, absently petting the kitten, then set her down on his bed and opened his trunk to get out his quills and ink and write the letters he'd promised. It took him a long time to write Uncle Harry's, doing his best not to make it sound morbid to be the only person in his year, and even longer to write Granny's, as he was sure she'd try to find a way around it. Victoire's letter went more quickly, since she'd just want to know about people he'd met and what Hogwarts was like. As he was finishing up, a soft knock came at the door.
He frowned and went to it.
Professor Longbottom was standing outside, looking troubled. "May I see you in the Common Room, Teddy? It's not good form for the Head of House to visit dormitories, and I need to talk to you about your classes tomorrow."
Teddy set down his quill and followed him back downstairs. They sat in two of the large chairs by the fire, and Neville--Professor Longbottom, he corrected himself again--stared into the flames for a long time.
"The professors have been talking," he said after a while. "We want to try to keep your year as normal as possible--I'm sure you noticed that it's not quite the same size as other years."
"We were talking about it. The war, right? I can't believe only fifteen of us were born!"
"There are a dozen more. Still a small year, but not quite as awful as it looks. Unfortunately, they all declined their Hogwarts letters. Some are still overseas--four in the States, five in Australia--and decided to go to school there. The other three..." He smiled bitterly. "We got some pretty colorful responses from Muggle-born parents who want nothing to do with magic anymore. It's lucky that someone had tried to steal the Hogwarts list a few years before; by the time the Carrows got here, Professor McGonagall had it much better protected, and none of this year's Muggle-borns were found. But it's your classes I came to talk about, Teddy. No matter how you look at it, you won't have the normal sort of Hogwarts classes. Some classes are already double by tradition--we'd scheduled Gryffindor to take Potions with the Slytherins and Herbology with the Hufflepuffs this year. But the classes which are traditionally single-house, like Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts... we feel you'd do better to be in class with students from other houses, rather than alone."
Teddy nodded. "That would be better."
"I'm glad you think so. Do you have any preferences?"
"I met people from everywhere," Teddy said, then grinned. "Maybe I should take Defense Against the Dark Arts with Slytherins. Sounds like a good chance to jinx Honoria Higgs."
Professor Longbottom raised an eyebrow. "I'm your Head of House here, Teddy. It's not really a good idea to tell me that."
He laughed. "Don't worry. It'll take some getting used to. If you really do want to take Defense Against the Dark Arts with the Slytherins, that will fit your schedule well enough. But you won't be doing many jinxes this year, except in Charms. First year is mostly theory."
"The Slytherins take Transfiguration opposite your Herbology lesson, so you'll need to choose another House for that."
"How about Ravenclaw? I haven't any other classes with them."
"Ravenclaw it is. Would you like to join the Hufflepuffs for Astronomy on Wednesdays, the Slytherins on Tuesdays, or the Ravenclaws on Thursdays?"
Longbottom waved his wand and a bit of parchment appeared. "It looks fine. You only have room to take Charms with Hufflepuff--Ravenclaw is there while you're in Defense Against the Dark Arts with the Slytherins, and Slytherin has it while you'll be in Transfiguration. That's a good number of classes with the Hufflepuffs, which I'm willing to guess you don't especially mind."
"Would you object to History of Magic with the Ravenclaws? That would fit in with the least running about."
Professor Longbottom stood up and said, "Well, I'll straighten up your schedule and give it to you in the morning with the others. It's a shame your year's like this." He headed to the portrait hole, and Teddy followed him. Just before he stepped over it into the corridor outside, he said, "Oh, and Teddy--while you were on the train, I got a Floo call from your grandmother, who says that a certain basket was disturbed, and two items were missing from it when she checked. If you have those items, you might, er... keep them safely set aside." He gave Teddy a sympathetic smile.
"Is she angry?"
"She wants you to get out of the past. She's worried."
Teddy nodded, and watched him go until the portrait swung shut behind him.
He went back to his dormitory, where Checkmate was now quite awake and jumping around, chasing after shadows that swam in through the window. He got out one of her toys and played with her for a little while, then went back to his trunk to get out his pajamas. Lying beside them was the blank piece of parchment that Uncle Harry wouldn't admit directly to sending him, despite giving him the instruction to try it when he had his wand handy.
Curiously, he took it out, laid it on the bed, and unfolded it. A smaller bit of parchment fell out of it, with the legend, printed in block letters, "TAP HERE. REVELO."
Teddy took out his wand--the new one--and tapped the small bit of parchment. "Revelo."
A small stick figure appeared on it, very obviously Uncle Harry's drawing (Teddy's godfather had many skills; drawing was not one of them). The stick-figure's hair changed color twice, then unfolded a piece of stick parchment. It pointed its wand, then a bubble appeared with the words, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." All of it disappeared.
Teddy looked at the larger parchment, then pointed his wand at it and said, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
The parchment burst into life, lines crawling over it, joining and splitting, jubilantly tracing the pathways and passages of Hogwarts. Words appeared at the top, and Teddy knew this handwriting as well, had seen it in letters his mum had kept. He grinned.
Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers
are proud to present
The Marauder's Map
He'd heard a whisper of the Marauder's Map once, only to have it shushed by Uncle Harry, who gave him a wise and secretive look. Now, it was his.
Dots appeared, each labeled with a name, and Teddy watched them, delighted, for a long time. He found Frankie--and Hufflepuff House--in the basement near the kitchens; he and Zachary were up and in the Common Room. He saw Professor Longbottom go into his office, and Headmistress Sprout sitting up in her own.
A flicker of motion caught his eye, and he noted Peeves. Peeves appeared to be traveling through a solid stone wall, which was quite mad, as Peeves wasn't a ghost, and couldn't do that.
Looking more closely, he noticed other places where dots were in places that didn't quite exist on the map. The castle had changed since it was drawn.
Teddy sat back, something cold and sick turning over in his stomach.
The Marauder's Map was out of date.