The Sugar Quill
Author: FernWithy (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard  Chapter: Chapter 6: The Kappa In Classroom Eleven
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Teddy Lupin and the Forest Guard: Chapter Six

Teddy Lupin
and the Forest Guard

Chapter Six:
The Kappa In Classroom Eleven

by FernWithy

After breakfast the next morning, Frankie swept over to the Gryffindor table to collect Teddy for the game, which was to be held in the Hufflepuff Common Room. Frankie's other 'Puff friends were fanning out to the Slytherin and Ravenclaw tables to gather up their friends, and Teddy was surprised to find, after Frankie had grabbed him by the shoulder, that they then went further up the Gryffindor table, to a second year girl with frizzy red hair and thick, magnifying glasses over her tawny eyes. He'd seen her here and there in Gryffindor Tower, but didn't know her name.

"Oi, Apcarne," she said. "This better be better than your last game. IRA terrorists?" She rolled her eyes.

"Oh, it's better," Frankie said. "Also less likely to get me into a tiff with Bobby O'Neill."

The girl looked around him to see Teddy. "I didn't know you knew our first year." She waved cheerfully. "Hi, Teddy."

He smiled.

Frankie shook his head and rolled his eyes at Teddy. "This is why you're not in Hufflepuff. Get out into your own common room sometimes, will you? This is Ruth Scrimgeour. We call her Ruthless."

A few Gryffindor girls snickered across the table, and their plates suddenly shot forward and flipped over into their laps. Ruthless glared at them as they got up, brushing at the mess with disgust. Glancing around, Teddy noticed that there was a great deal of snickering following the various members of the Guard around. Frankie had turned beet red, which Teddy had never seen him do before, but he just smiled tightly at Ruthless.

"They call me that because Frankie's not very creative," she said, "or doesn't know that every girl named Ruth in the history of the world is called Ruthless at some point."

"Or," Frankie said, leading the pair of them back toward the Hufflepuff table, where Bernice was waiting with Roger Young and the fourth year Ravenclaw from the Hogwarts Express, the high color fading back into something more normal for Frankie Apcarne, "it could be because she doesn't let a sewer rat go by without attacking it with her whole arsenal."

"Oh," Teddy said.

Tinny, Zachary, and Ken came back from Slytherin with another third year in tow. Altogether, there were ten people, which Frankie declared quite satisfactory. He looked at the group, then Teddy noticed him crane his neck toward the Ravenclaw table. Teddy turned and saw Donzo watching them with a forlorn expression on his face. Frankie looked at Bernice and raised his eyebrows to her. She shrugged and looked at Zachary, who went over to Donzo, spoke to him quietly for a minute, then got what looked like an enthusiastic "Yes" to a question. A moment later, they'd joined the group.

"I played on tour, with some of the--" Donzo started, then stopped. "Er, sorry. I didn't mean to do that. It's just..." He sighed rather hopelessly, then looked at Frankie anxiously. "Can you get my stats from this?" He pulled out his wallet and fished what looked like an oversized coin from his pocket. Other than the crossed swords on the surface, it looked like the little stat-coins that Granny sometimes used to store thick patient files if she needed to take them to a meeting. She was always careful to erase them afterward, as they were accessible for everyone who knew the simple release spell and had a wand.

"No," Bernice said, "we've never seen one of those before. It's totally new to us." She grinned and pulled an identical token from her own pocket. "Don't worry."

With that, they all tromped off toward a shallow staircase that led beneath the Great Hall. They passed a large still life of fruit, then turned a corner and passed a series of windows set high in the wall, each showing the back and bottom of plants outside the castle. They stopped at another still life, and Frankie went to it, wand drawn, while the other Hufflepuffs formed a barrier and smiled awkwardly. When they moved apart, Teddy could see that Frankie had moved some of the food in the painting around, but wasn't entirely sure how.

Frankie said, "We're home, with guests."

The portrait moved aside, and Teddy's eyes were flooded with the bright color of sunshine, even though the only real sun was coming from more high, narrow windows blocked by plants (here, some of them had been turned inward, and were basking in charmed sunlight that someone had created for them). The walls were draped with bright yellow hangings, interspersed with drawings that Teddy knew were of first years, waving frantically at him. Tinny pointed to one near the door, which showed this year's small group. He wondered where his mum's was, or if they took them down after a few years.

Little burrows ran off to the sides, and Teddy could just glimpse large, round doors that led to the dormitories. Other Hufflepuffs, including pretty Ellie Cattermole, passed by and looked at the Forest Guard with distaste.

"Wingardium leviosa!" Frankie commanded, and a round table rose into the air and came down in the exact center of the Common Room. At Bernice's command, several small bags flew onto it, as well as a stack of books with pictures of Muggle machines and detectives using spyglasses on the front. Frankie went to sit by the books, indicating that Teddy should come along, then grabbing Donzo. "Let me see your character," he said. "I can find a place to work him in."

Donzo handed him the stat-coin. Frankie set it down on a piece of parchment and tapped it with his wand, saying, "Revelo."

Writing appeared, and a drawing of a boy in white pants and a sort of white half-robe, tied with a black belt.

"You have martial arts?" Frankie asked.

Donzo nodded. "My dad's friend's son told me it would be a good idea."

"Well, it's extra defense points, but we play with handicaps. Martial arts means an aggression penalty."

"I know the rules. Do you play berserker if I roll too badly?"

Teddy was following none of this, but Frankie just grinned. "You'll pick it up, Teddy. I promise. For now, I'll stick you with Donzo. He'll be your dormitory-mate at uni." He looked up. "Food out!"

People emptied their pockets onto the table, Teddy contributing more of Aunt Ginny's biscuits (Ruthless, who had apparently taken some in Gryffindor Tower, told everyone to try them), and once everyone was settled with a pile of food, Frankie assigned all of the characters to their parts. Everything would start around the university grounds, the thieves and other lowlifes just happening to be in the neighborhood.

The first twenty minutes of the game turned out to be staged meetings among different groups of characters. Teddy had to roll dice--they were adamant about using Muggle dice--at one point to see if his character would order a sandwich or a cup of tea, but mainly, several turns were spent just gathering the team. After the fifth go-round of this, Zachary said, "Come on, Frankie--do we have a game to play or not?"

Frankie frowned impressively, then called in a character that he ran as "Urban Planner," who told them that an organized crime boss had kidnapped Prince William. There was to be a reward to whoever rescued him. This, apparently, was the real start of the game, as the experienced players nodded in satisfaction.

Teddy did get the hang of it as they went on, sometimes just having social scenes, establishing which characters liked and disliked which other ones, rolling dice for nonsense reasons. At one point, Donzo rolled badly and went berserk in a bakery. Teddy had a particularly good roll, and, despite his low strength, managed to leave the baker unconscious. Luckily, Tinny happened to be in the neighborhood, and rolled to see if anyone thought to search the place, and someone did. A roll turned up a clue on the other side of town, which led to the morning's first "Tube Crawl," a high-adventure trek through the London Underground, where every step seemed to have a mugger or a murderer or a gang war that needed to be fought through. The criminals were armed with exotic things like "handguns," which seemed to shoot Killing Curses that weren't always effective, and other things that exploded and moved and generally made passage difficult. In the course of it, Teddy managed to pick up something called a "bullet-proof vest," which apparently gave him more defense points if one of the criminals came after him with a gun. He suspected Frankie had worked into the game just for him. It was a good thing, too, as a mugger pointed a large gun at him next, and without the extra points, he'd have been out of the game.

At lunchtime, Frankie announced that three people could "train" for a few turns and come back to extra skills if they went to get lunch. Teddy volunteered, choosing "disguise" as his skill, and went off with Bernice (who had opted for "eloquence") and Ruthless (who chose "marksmanship" and grumbled that it ought to be "markswomanship"). They approached the large still life of fruit, and Bernice tickled the pear. A doorknob came out of it, and Teddy entered the Hogwarts kitchens.

"Oh, you is trouble!" the clothed elf said, shaking her rolling pin at them. "We is making lunch. You is should be eating in the Great Hall!"

Teddy winced. "Sorry, we didn't think about that. We were just getting lunch for friends in one of the common rooms."

"Is they sick?" the elf asked.

"No, Winky," Ruthless told her. "They're just playing."

"Then you is coming back for their lunches when we is having finished our work!" She turned and stomped off, and Teddy smiled. Winky--he knew the name. And he thought Hermione would like to know that she'd just stood up to three students with a request.

"Should we go back?" he asked as they left the kitchen.

Bernice shook her head. "I could stand a walk. Frankie won't get twitchy until we've hit the maximum training turns."

"So," Ruthless said as they headed up the stairs toward the Great Hall, "how's solitary splendor? I put in to have the girls' dormitory to myself to get away from my lot, but the Headmistress said it wouldn't be allowed."

"It's all right," Teddy said. If he hadn't told his grandmother, Uncle Harry, or Victoire about how deeply lonely it was, he wasn't about to tell a near stranger. "Plenty of room, anyway."

"And no one getting up at the crack of dawn for cosmetics spells," Bernice said, shuddering.

"I, er, don't imagine my dormitory mates would have done that, anyway."

They entered the Great Hall, and a few people having lunch looked at Teddy's companions and turned back with less-than-complimentary snickers. Honoria Higgs said, "Oh, look, the werecub has girlfriends. Just his sort, too." She made finger glasses around her eyes like Ruthless's, and stuck her front teeth out over her lip to exaggerate Bernice's overbite. "Must have had to fight off the whole pack for that pair. Must have--EW!" She ran off, swatting at something white on her neck, covering her hair. A strong smell of melted marshmallows came from it, and Teddy noticed Maurice putting his wand away while Corky laughed behind his hand. He nodded to them in thanks. Maurice gave him an exaggerated look of innocence and Corky made a finger-halo over his head.

Meanwhile, the girls were bright red and embarrassed, so Teddy let them lead the rest of the way out of the Hall. Once clear of teachers' ears, Ruthless let out a stream of words he doubted she'd picked up from her mother, and Bernice started talking about capturing the dark witch before she did any real damage.

"Honestly, if they would stop them while they're still here, we could--" She stopped outside the door of classroom eleven. "Oh, my!" she said. "Get back! It's a kappa, and it's loose!"

Teddy stopped walking and gaped at the figure in the door of classroom eleven. It was about the size of Rosie Weasley, had green scales, and made scrabbling and sloshing sounds as it dove toward them, grinning obscenely. A sunburst caught at the top of its head, and Teddy saw a little pool of water, hedged and protected by a round ring of bone. Instinctively, he rushed forward, pushing it back into the classroom. Ruthless came in beside him.

Kappa, he thought, his mind scrambling furiously through the piles of creature books he'd been obsessed with as a little boy, the shiny new ones that Granny had bought, the battered old ones from the box in he'd found in his parents' closet when he'd moved from the nursery into their room. Kappas belonged in the water, he remembered, seeing a picture in his mind of a little green monkey-shaped creature swimming in a river. They belonged in the water, and they caught swimmers and either strangled them or sucked out their entrails through their--

Teddy went hot in the face and backed up against the edge of the door, putting solid stone against the kappa's favorite entry point. He reached over to Ruthless and shoved her back against the other side of the door. Bernice was standing between them.

"Get help!" Teddy hissed at her. "I think if we get the water... but.."

Bernice nodded smartly and ran off toward the Great Hall. Teddy didn't imagine it would take long for her to get Robards or Flitwick.

"Try to make it bow," he told Ruthless.

"What?"

"The water on its head. It won't be strong if it loses the water. And, er... keep your bum to the wall."

She squinted at him through her thick glasses. "Are you making this up?"

"No, I swear. I had books when I was little. My dad used to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts."

The kappa made a sudden, jerky move toward them, and there was no time to explain further. Teddy flicked his wand at it, but the only spell he could think of was "Lumos," which accomplished nothing at all. He kicked at it instead, and it grabbed for his trainer.

Ruthless hit it with a Jelly Legs Jinx and it sprawled onto the floor. A bit of water sloshed from its head, but it righted itself before losing everything. It ran at Ruthless.

Teddy raised his wand and said, "Petrificus Totalis," but he either needed practice or a different wand--or, he supposed, kappas were a difficult animal to hex--as he succeeded only in shocking the kappa, making it jump several feet in the air, and infuriating it.

"I've got help!" he heard in the corridor, then Bernice burst into the room--not with Robards and Flitwick, but with the entire Forest Guard and most of the Muggles and Minions players. Teddy stared at them, perplexed.

"Teddy says watch your arse," Ruthless told them.

The Guard fanned out around the confused, jumpy kappa.

"We need to get it out of the castle!" Frankie declared. "It's not safe to have it wandering around. It could hurt someone."

"Er..." Teddy began. "Shouldn't we, well..." But he couldn't follow it up. He tried to imagine Uncle Harry deciding that teachers should handle this tiny little problem, and couldn't quite do it. Plus it would hardly look good if the year's only Gryffindor slunk off to get an adult while all of his mates from other Houses stood their ground. He straightened his back and raised his wand again.

"Lupin!" Tinny called. "What do you know about them?"

"Water demons," Teddy answered. "Dangerous. Plus... what Ruthless said. About your arse. It likes to suck out your innards through there."

This was greeted with several blank stares, and a "That's nasty" from Tinny.

"Do you think it got out of the lake?" Roger Young asked.

Something seemed off about this to Teddy, but he couldn't put his finger on it. They weren't exactly native, but Hagrid had the Forest stocked with dozens of things that weren't; he wouldn't be surprised to find out that the lake had its fair share as well. When you came down to it, the Giant Squid wasn't even native. "It must've," he said. "Mustn't it? Where else would it come from?"

"Then we should get it back there," Frankie said. "And then find out just who decided to let it into the castle," he added grimly, his eyes narrowing, and Teddy guessed that he meant them to look steely.

"Make it bow," Teddy said for the second time. "Make the water spill off of its head. It'll go weak and we can just carry it."

"Good call, Lupin," Bernice said, stepping forward with her shoulders squared. She bowed at the kappa.

Zachary hurried over and hovered behind her, saying, "I've got your bum, Bernice."

"Who's got yours?" she snarled, looking so deeply serious that Teddy felt the first hint of laughter rising up in his belly. He stifled it... for a moment.

Zachary seemed to realize that he had nothing behind him, and spun around so was arse to arse with Bernice, trying to match her movements by touch. Beside Teddy, Ruthless snorted, and he could see her mouth pressed tightly shut, her cheeks reddening. He felt his own wild laughter bubbling up. It came out in a clear explosion, and a moment later, Tinny started up, bending over. Roger ran over to her to guard her, but glanced at Zachary and Bernice and started laughing before he got there. The kappa glanced from one pair to another, looking for all the world like Victoire watching her younger sisters in a particularly juvenile mood, and that thought got Teddy laughing all over again.

Frankie, on Ruthless's other side, let out out a guffaw, and deliberately bumped his bum into hers. She bumped back once, but when he did it again, she raised her wand and sent him reeling into the far wall. The kappa chased after him, but quite unfortunately for it, Ruthless's spell had a lot of power behind it, and when Frankie hit the wall, he pistoned his arms out and went shooting backward, off-balance, straight into the kappa's path. He knocked into it at full speed, twisting his feet against it and sprawling both of them onto the floor, dazed. Frankie shook his head, remembered what he'd run into and scrambled up, hands covering the seat of his trousers, but the kappa didn't move.

The laughter was still coming in breathless fits, echoed by everyone in classroom eleven, when Teddy realized that his trainers were wet, and the kappa had been down much longer than it should have been just from the shock of bumping into a thirteen-year-old, even a big one. He could see this dawning on his friends' faces as well, their laughter draining down to hiccups, their faces pale.

Roger Young said it first: "Is it... dead?"

Frankie took a few steps forward, his eyes wide, and knelt beside the kappa. He put his fingers on its neck, then replied with relief, "Its heart's beating. What happened?"

"The water," Teddy said, pointing at the puddle on the floor. "It spilled. It lost its strength."

"Will it die without it?" Donzo asked.

"Someone should get a teacher," Ruthless suggested. "They're probably still in the Great Hall..."

Bernice shook her head, looking confused. "They were all gone already when I went through."

"We should get it back to the lake ourselves, then," Frankie said. "We can save it. It's not too late." An odd sort of shadow seemed to cross his open, friendly face, then it was gone, and Teddy was sure he'd imagined it. He gathered up the kappa and headed for the doors at a good clip. The rest of them looked at one another awkwardly, then followed.

The day had come up hot and humid and walking outside the cool stone walls of the castle was like walking into a steaming cauldron. Teddy felt like he was swimming through the air as he squeezed to the front of the group and ran ahead to catch up with Frankie.

"It'll be all right when we get water into its head again," he offered.

Frankie grimaced. "I just meant to get it out of the castle!"

"Right, and you couldn't do it with it trying to get to your entrails."

Frankie looked at him strangely; apparently, his personal sense of the heroic meant getting rid of it without incapacitating it or hurting it in any way.

They reached the lake shore and Frankie put the kappa down. "Hold him up, Ted," he said. "So he doesn't spill again."

Teddy sat cross-legged on the ground, then pulled the kappa's body upright. He could see the cone-shaped hollow at the top of its head quite clearly, ringed by purplish veins. Frankie ran to the water, scooped some up in his hands, and splashed what little he'd managed to carry into the hollow. The kappa stirred minutely, then was still again. Frankie ran back.

The rest of the group caught up, and Bernice saw Frankie running with his hands full of water. "I know a fourth year spell for this!" she announced, then raised her wand and said, "Accio water!"

Teddy realized what was going to happen an instant before the lake suddenly drew back from its banks with a horrible sucking sound, drawing itself into a great mountain of water that was pointing directly toward them. From halfway up the mountain, a trapped merperson dove down into the depths. Ruthless ran forward waving her wand wildly and yelling "Finite incantatem! Finite incantatem!"

The water fell back with a great splash, and then it was rushing toward them, borne not by magic but by the rules of gravity, foaming with unspent energy--

It stopped.

Teddy blinked. A five foot high wall of water was standing not a foot from his nose, foam trailing upward. Beyond it, he could see another swell of the lake, much higher. It was like standing at the bottom of a ravine.

Except that, at the bottom of a ravine, he wouldn't be able to see a grindylow swim serenely by.

He looked over his shoulder and saw Professors Sprout, Longbottom, Robards, and Hagrid coming down the slope, wands drawn, Red Caps capering gleefully around their ankles.

Students and staff looked at one another, and Teddy saw Professor Longbottom pressing his lips together, trying not to smile.

Professor Sprout cocked her head to one side, raising her her eyebrows at Robards. "Well, Professor Robards," she said, "it seems we won't have to go back to looking for your missing kappa after all."


Fifteen minutes later, the lake was sitting tranquilly in its banks again, Professor Sprout, through an interpreter, was apologizing to Merchieftainess Murcus for the disturbance, and the Forest Guard was lined up in Robards' office, backs to the window, looking nervously from Robards to Longbottom to Hagrid to the kappa, which was now swimming contentedly in a large tank near the office door.

Robards was pacing, his hands clasped at the small of his back. He stopped in front of Frankie, eyes narrowed.

"Apcarne," he said, "I'm going to ask you one question, and you will answer it truthfully."

"Yes, sir," Frankie said. His voice cracked on "sir," going up then dropping into the cellar.

Robards took a deep breath. "Did you let the kappa out of the tank."

Frankie was visibly relieved. "No, sir. We just found it in the castle. We thought it had come up from the lake."

"And it didn't occur to you call a teacher?"

"Well..."

"There was no one in the Great Hall when I went!" Bernice piped up. "You were all gone."

"She has a point," Longbottom said. "They couldn't very well gather us up while we were looking for your kappa in the dungeons."

Robards didn't look particularly inclined to take this from a staff member half his own age, war hero and Head of House or not. "I believe that there are other teachers who were in their offices, in quite easy reach. Professor Flitwick, for instance, was in his office when we passed."

"I didn't look," Bernice admitted.

"And you nearly drowned yourselves and undid a lot of construction work by misusing a Summoning Charm."

Ruthless snorted.

Robards turned on her. "And you nearly completed the job by ending the spell without considering the consequences." He narrowed his eyes. "Scrimgeour, I have told you a hundred times that you're going to get yourself into trouble because you can't see two seconds past the present." He turned on Teddy, all of his nervousness in class gone. "Lupin, you were the one who told them about the kappa?"

"Yes, sir."

"And it never occurred to you that they aren't a species we would have in the lake?"

"Well, sort of," Teddy admitted. "But I thought perhaps it was just brought in. Like the grindylows and so on. Just for Hogwarts." He couldn't help glancing at Hagrid, who was smiling in such an innocent way that Teddy was quite sure the lake had more than grindylows and the giant squid in it. He had a feeling that if Hagrid got his hands on a kappa, he'd have it in the Hogwarts lake quicker than a Golden Snitch, and then go off searching for a mate for it.

Robards frowned impressively. "All right. It's not as bad as it could have been, but you were all careless. Five points from each of you for your Houses. So that's thirty from Hufflepuff, ten each from Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, and five from Slytherin. Plus, detention. Professor Longbottom, I believe you mentioned a fluxweed patch in need of attention?"

Longbottom nodded. "It's best done at dark. Meet me at eight o'clock Monday night at greenhouse one, and we'll head over."

The members of the Guard shifted uncomfortably on their feet until Robards gave them a signal to go. Gratefully, Teddy followed the others out, but Professor Longbottom caught him by the shoulder and steered him down another corridor.

"Teddy, there's something else I need to talk to you about. I was going to call you in later today anyway."

"Is there trouble at home?"

Longbottom looked confused for a moment, then understood and said, "No, Teddy. If there were trouble at home, I'd have got you much earlier, and wouldn't have let Robards lecture you about the kappa first. This is a school matter." He reached a door that looked like all of the others and pointed his wand at it. It opened, and the corridor was flooded with a jungle-scent of soil and growing green things. Ivy climbed the walls under magical sunlight, and mist rose pleasantly from the corners, keeping everything moist. Longbottom's desk and chair, along with a book case, a small table, and a visitor's chair, were all sitting in magical bubbles that glowed faintly. He waved his and the bubbles disappeared. "I had it rain in here this morning," he said. "But the furniture should be dry. Please sit down, Teddy."

Teddy sat in the extra chair. "What is it?"

Longbottom went around his desk and sat down, then steepled his fingers in front of his face, looking thoughtful. "You're doing quite well in Herbology," he said. "I know it's only been three classes so far, but I can tell you understand the basics."

"Er... thank you?"

"Professor Robards tells me you that you're also doing well with defense theory, and Professor Flitwick says your written homework in Charms has been quite good. The same is true of Transfiguration. But we didn't have a meeting about you to talk about how well you're doing on theory."

Teddy blushed. "You had a meeting about me?"

"Teddy, your magic is suffering."

Teddy's heart stopped, then started again at double-speed. "Maybe I'm just not very powerful."

Longbottom narrowed his eyes. "I don't believe that, Teddy. I don't believe that you believe it, either. I was there the day you accidentally turned your grandmother's conservatory into a jungle, remember? And I heard a story from Bill Weasley, involving you and a lot of flying rocks." He sighed. "Teddy, sometimes magic can be affected by personal problems. Are you... I haven't seen you morph much more than your hair since the night you came. Are you having any trouble... I only ask because..." He looked uncomfortable, and Teddy didn't need to wonder about that one--he'd heard quite a lot about the year his mother hadn't been able to morph because his father was in danger.

"I'm fine," he said. "Look." He stood and went to a particularly dense patch of leaves and pink flowers, and morphed his skin to match their pattern.

Longbottom laughed. "That's as good as a Disillusioning charm, isn't it?"

"Except that I'd have to re-do it every time I moved," Teddy said, relaxing it and going back to the chair. "Also, I'd have to be naked."

"All right. Do you know what's wrong, then? Is it the wand?"

"Maybe," Teddy said, not really wanting to get into it.

"I think..." Longbottom shrugged and shook his head. "I think I've said as much as I can as Head of House. Your family decisions are private."

Teddy nodded, feeling rather miserable, like suddenly Professor Longbottom really was a different person from Neville, who had once sat with him at Uncle Harry's and told him a grand story about his father, a boggart, and a hat with a vulture on it. Then Professor Longbottom grinned and said, "Of course, all the professional dignity in the world isn't going to stop me from writing to Harry to tell him about your first detention. I think he'd have been very disappointed if it had been for anything less than an adventure."

Teddy grinned back. "Hey, that's not fair. No one else's godfather is getting a letter."

"Yes, life is a horrible injustice sometimes," Longbottom agreed pleasantly. "Go on. And try to avoid any more adventures, at least until you've finished your detention for this one."

Teddy went back to his dormitory, meaning to play with the kitten a bit before settling in to do the written part of his homework (he'd try harder on the practical part tomorrow afternoon), but Checkmate wasn't actually in the room. He got out the Marauder's Map, told it that he was up to no good, and looked for Checkmate's dot. She seemed to have gone up by the girls' dormitories, and was prowling about near the seventh year dormitory. He gave it his name and an order, and the Marauders all duly insulted him, then he brought the map back and watched Ruthless and Tinny walk companionably along on the seventh floor, on opposite sides of a wall that the map insisted was there. He shook his head and put it away, drawing out his Transfiguration homework instead. The questions were easy. The practical assignment was to take a feathered hat-pin and turn it into a quill. He read the theory behind it quickly, and spent the rest of the afternoon getting the metal to go a slightly duller shade.

Checkmate came back just before he left for dinner, carrying a pair of dead spiders, which she dropped neatly into her dish. She ran to him to collect praise, and looked crestfallen when he left the room almost immediately after giving it. Just before he closed the door, he saw her jump up onto his bed, curl upon the pillow, and put her nose under her paws.

Ruthless waved to him in the common room, and he joined her to trek down to dinner, not sure whether or not he hoped she had some new adventure in mind. She didn't seem to. They ate together, and he was getting quite used to the way her eyes were magnified behind her specs. They were an interesting color, really.

Once they had pudding, Frankie and Donzo came over to sit with them, then Tinny wandered over as well, with Laura Chapman, following along looking awed at being with people who'd got detention. They sat together, talking, until their Heads of House shooed them all home.

//
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