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Onward, to Greater Things by killthatrat
Chapter 28 : Chapter 27 Lupin
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5


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“I know what you’re saying,” Malfoy ground out from his clenched jaw. “But it’s not my decision! You just have to wait, just-”

“Don’t make me shoot you.”

There was a soft creak from the floorboards in the hallway, the gentle noise immediately seizing Harry’s attention. He whirled around to look into the hall, convinced that it was Teddy, that he was going to be standing there waiting for him. But it was not Teddy, and for a long moment Harry failed to recognise the tall figure standing in the doorway, the sound of his voice aiding his identification.

“That won’t be necessary, Harry,” Remus Lupin said softly, his wand pointed straight at him.

Harry faltered, the gun in his hand wavering before he managed to steady it. He was frozen in surprise, frowning as he tried to make the connection in his mind, his brain and heart telling him two different things. A mistake had been made...it had to have been. But there was no mistaking the man who stood before him, not now that he was taking a step closer, his face coming into the light where Harry could see him. As Remus came closer, Harry tried to reason with what he was seeing, to understand, but there was simply no explanation available to him. Tearing his eyes away from him, Harry looked at Malfoy, who merely looked annoyed.

“What have you done?” Harry accused breathlessly, his voice almost failing him. He looked back at Remus again, still not believing his eyes. Remus still had not lowered his wand, and was stepping even further into the room, watching Harry warily.

“Harry,” Remus began. “Put the gun down. You don’t need it.”

Ignoring this instruction, Harry took a step behind, backing away. Already his body was
beginning to falter, his limbs shaking as his heart raced painfully inside his chest. The gun still pointed at Malfoy, he turned back to him. “What have you done?” he demanded again, needing an explanation. He couldn’t process this himself, it was too much too soon.

“I haven’t done anything!” Malfoy protested.

“But this is-” Harry began, his lungs failing him, making it harder to draw breath. “This can’t be re-”

“It’s me, Harry,” Remus said firmly, advancing forward again. “Remus.”

Instinctually, Harry turned and moved the gun away from Malfoy and towards Remus, who openly flinched at this motion. He looked at Remus more closely, observing the changes in appearance. His grey hair was kept quite short now, making his aged and damaged features even more prominent. The top of his left ear was missing, leaving a jagged edge to the lobe that ran in line with a new scar on his cheek, one that had healed many months ago. Looking more closely, Harry saw the state of Remus’ hands, whose new scars resembled vicious bite marks, though this gave Harry no explanation.

“Put the gun down,” Remus said again, trying to placate him. “You don’t need it, it’s just me.”

“Where’s Teddy?” Harry demanded. “Where is he?”

“He’s safe, Harry,” Remus tried to assure him. “He’s fine. He’s been with me all week, alright? Only with me.”

“Where is my son?” Harry shouted possessively, putting his finger on the trigger. He wasn’t afraid to shoot them both. “My son, where is he?”

“He’s safe!” Remus insisted.

“Well what do you want?” Harry pleaded, his voice escalating as he quickly lost any calm state of mind. After four years, Remus Lupin was standing right in front of him. But this couldn't be happening...there had been a funeral and everything...they had grieved, etched his name onto the Ministry Memorial along side Tonks'.

“To protect him, that’s all,” Remus implored, trying to make Harry understand.

“From me?”

“No, no of course not.”

“Then what?” Harry shouted desperately. “What do you want?’

Remus sighed, looking at Harry in sorrow. The expression on Remus’ face only made Harry’s fear worse, and with his heart plummeting he came to the only other explanation he could find reason in. This was it…this was what Harry had been fearing for over four years. Remus had returned, not dead as everyone had believed, and he had come to take his child back. Thinking about this, Harry gave a low groan, knowing he couldn’t stop him…it was too late.

“Are you taking him?” Harry asked quietly.

Looking visibly shocked by this question, Remus hastened to answer. “It’s not like that, Harry. I’m trying to protect him.”

“By taking him from me?”

“Please understand, Harry. It’s just that-”

"I'm his dad!" Harry shouted. "Ginny's his mum, you can't take him from us!"

“Drop the gun, Potter,” Malfoy’s firm voice came from beside Harry.

Looking round, Harry realised that he hadn’t paid adequate attention to Malfoy, who in Harry’s distraction had regained his wand. The look on his face was deadly, his wand pointed straight at Harry’s face, ready to attack him if necessary. Turning back to Remus, he tried to think of what do to next, but he saw only one solution.

“Please, Remus,” Harry said very quietly, readjusting his finger on the trigger “I’ve killed for him once. I’m not afraid to do it again.”

Remus hesitated, not having expected that. “Draco’s right,” he said diplomatically. He was shaking just like Harry, looking as though his knees were going to give out any moment. “Put the gun down, Harry.”

“Now,” Malfoy added.

Harry didn’t move, still looking at Remus. “Don’t make me do this,” he said slowly, trying to give him as much time as possible. “Bring Teddy back to me.”

“Put the gun down!” Malfoy shouted loudly.

Ignoring this, Harry looked only at Remus. It felt like a life time before Remus shook his head, refusing Harry’s request. This was the only prompt he needed. Harry had made his decision. This was his chance, his opportunity to get Teddy back. Feeling no regret or trepidation, he took proper aim at Remus and drew a slow breath, pulling the trigger hard.

The gun seemed to shudder in his hand, emitting a loud click rather than the ear splitting boom it was supposed to. Swaying in shock, Harry looked at the gun that refused to help him, pulling the trigger again with the same resultant click. It took only that brief moment of devastation for Malfoy to realise what must have happened, and he acted quickly, capitalising on Harry’s shock.

“Expelliarmus!”

The malfunctioned gun flew from Harry’s fingers, landing in the far corner of the room. Remus gave a sigh of relief, his shoulders sagging as he looked at Harry in disbelief, having not truly expected Harry to shoot him. Filled with panic, Harry raised his hands, glancing at the gun that had failed him.

"You need to get out of here," Malfoy instructed Remus.

"Wait," Harry interceded quickly, his last chance. He looked at Remus, begging him. "Let me see him, just for five minutes."

"I have to do this," Remus apologised, already backing out of the room. "I'm sorry, Harry. I'm so sorry."

“Go!" Malfoy shouted impatiently. “Get the kid out of here.”

Nodding, Remus lowered his wand and pocketed it, stepping backwards and returning to the hallway. “I’m sorry,” he said to Harry before he disappeared.

No longer thinking about his actions, Harry raised his fist and punched Malfoy hard in the face, his other hand wrenching his wand out of his grasp. Surprised, Malfoy clutched at his face and fell as Harry pushed him, allowing him to get away. Breaking into a run, Harry fled the room and followed Remus down the hall, just catching a glimpse of him as he entered the room at the end.

“Wait!” he called out desperately, skidding into the room just in time to see the trap door closing. "Remus!"

The room contained a large table and chairs, but Harry paid no attention to them as he fell to his feet at the trap door, using Malfoy’s wand to try and open it. But it was a useless effort, the trapdoor sealed closed, unwilling to budge. Dropping the wand Harry began to pound on the door, knowing that Remus could still hear him.

“Let him go, please!” Harry shouted, begging Remus to listen to him. “I’ll do anything, Remus! Anything!”

Malfoy followed him quickly, and Harry heard the brief scrape of a chair across the floor before there was a heavy thud, something hard hitting him across the head. Though he felt no pain, it knocked him over, and he had just enough wits left to see Malfoy standing over him before he fell unconscious.

 

Teddy was utterly bored.

Despite the blank piece of parchment and colourful quill John had given him, he found it
harder and harder to amuse himself the longer they stayed in that dreary old shack, with the wind howling through the gaps in the walls. Not that he was cold or anything, John had made sure of that, but it wasn’t exactly the most interesting of places to spend the entire day.

They’d been there for hours now, since they had visited the man named Severus that morning. John had produced a sandwich for lunch and a Chocolate Frog as a treat, not that Teddy knew how he had found them here, but nevertheless they had broken up the long drawn out day they had spent together. Despite his boredom, he had seldom complained, not wanting to bother or annoy John. He was still trying to be on his best behaviour, just in case John was thinking about taking him home. Only that morning John had promised that his return home would come soon, and Teddy felt that soon had probably come. He’d been waiting long enough, hadn’t he?

Concentrating on the picture of a Swordfish he was drawing, Teddy swung his legs underneath the chair he saw on, no longer interested in looking around the blank and empty room. Thankfully the ink in the quill he was using could be removed, for he had made a few silly mistakes on his Swordfish that John had helped him rectify. The Swordfish’s nose had to be made longer once or twice, and Teddy had also forgotten to draw big rows of teeth in his mouth.

The drawing finally completed, John resumed his seat beside Teddy and began helping him with the words, patiently reminding him about how to write them.

“A big S…then a W….O….R….D. That’s good.”

“Thanks,” Teddy said proudly, writing very carefully. He couldn’t wait to show mum and dad all the pictures he had drawn, knowing that they’d love the Piranha he had drawn.

“Can you spell fish?” John asked him.

“I think so,” Teddy nodded, starting on that part next. “A big F, then an I….S…H,” he concluded, glancing up at John for confirmation.

“That’s right. You’re very good at writing.”

“Thanks,” he said again, smiling.

“Who taught you how to write?”

“My mum. She lets me write the labels on the animal food at work, and she bought me an exercise book to practice in.”

“That’s very nice of her.”

“Yeah,” Teddy agreed. “It’s because I’m going to school next year.”

John frowned beneath his mask. “Do you mean this year?”

Teddy looked up, confused. “Is it two thousand and three already?”

“It is,” John confirmed. “It’s the third of January.”

“Oh. Well then, I’m going to school this year then, in August.”

"That's very exciting," John commented with a smile.

Nodding in agreement, Teddy drew a neat line beneath the title of the picture before setting it aside with the others. Trying to think of what he'd like to draw next, he gave a soft sigh, helplessly bored. He swung his legs beneath his chair, fiddling with the quill until he got blue ink over his fingers, and so he hastily wiped them on his trousers before John saw.

Reminding himself to be more careful, he picked up the next piece of parchment John had given him and looked at it, trying to decide between drawing Rex or just a normal dinosaur.
Getting side-tracked, he wondered aloud if dinosaurs could be purple.

"I'm not sure they'd be purple," John answered absently, now standing in the hallway with his arms folded. "I don't think purple would blend into their environment very well."
With that answer, Teddy's decision had been made. He would draw a purple dinosaur. However, just as he was about to get started John swiftly came back into the dining room, and suddenly picked up Teddy's back pack from the table.

"Teddy? Remember how I said I had to talk to someone?" he said, ushering him out of his chair.

"Oh, yeah," he said, getting down as he remembered their conversation from earlier. "Are they here?"

"Yes, they are," John answered, taking his hand and leading Teddy around the table to where the trap door was open and waiting. "I promise, it won't be long."

"Okay," Teddy agreed quickly, secretly excited. The idea of hiding in a secret passage thrilled him to no end, and he had been anticipating this moment all morning.

Moving very quickly, John put Teddy's backpack on his shoulders and then lifted him, lowering him into the trap door and waiting until he held onto the ladder. Only when Teddy was securely holding onto the ladder did John release him, looking over his shoulder in worry. He hurried him to descend, holding his wand at the ready in case it looked as though he might slip. Climbing down quickly, Teddy jumped the last foot and landed neatly at the bottom, quietly thanking John when he levitated a flame enclosed in an orb down to join him.

“This won’t take long,” John promised him.

As agreed on earlier, the trap door closed overhead, though the flame kept the tunnel filled with light and warmth. Grinning, Teddy shrugged off his backpack and took out Woody, who had been waiting patiently inside for something exciting to do.

"Let's have a look around, alright?" Teddy said to him, taking the enclosed flame in his other hand and moving down the tunnel.

Though he had promised John that he would stay there and wait for him, no specific restriction had been set on how far he was allowed to go down the tunnel. John had neglected to tell Teddy what this tunnel was for, or where it went, and his curiosity had been too strong to resist. Maybe he'd find a cave full of treasure down here, like in the movie Aladdin. Maybe there'd even be a Genie's bottle, and Teddy and Woody would be able to free him and be granted three wishes. At this thought, Teddy knew he would only need to be granted one wish...to go home to his mum and dad.

He missed them even more desperately today, his boredom allowing him to think about them a lot more. As he often did, he wondered if his brother had come out of his mum's tummy yet, if he was sleeping in the crib that he himself had slept in as a baby. He'd helped his dad get that ready for the baby, had put on his Bob the Builder hard hat and helped him sand away all the blue paint to reveal the wood beneath.

"Why is it blue?" Teddy has asked him, watching the paint coming away.
Dad had shrugged at this question. "That's what I painted it."

"When I came to live with you?"

"Yep."

"But why blue?"

"I thought you might like it. Is blue not your favourite colour any more?"
Teddy had considered this long and hard before answering. "Mmm, I still like blue. What colour will it be now?"

"We're not painting it this time," Dad had explained, showing Teddy the tin of varnish. "We're staining it."

This had amused Teddy to no end. Only that morning, mum had been whinging about the grass stains on dad's socks, and had thrown them at him in frustration. Teddy wondered to himself if they were going to stain the wood like grass.

Moving down the tunnel, he stepped cautiously over the uneven earth floor. The ceiling wasn't very high, although there was plenty of room for Teddy in there. Stopping for a moment, he grew his legs taller and touched the ceiling, which was made from old wooden beams. Losing his balance on his rather tall legs, Teddy fell against the side of the tunnel, clumsily dropping Woody and the enclosed flame. He was instantly plunged into darkness.

Standing there frozen, Teddy shrunk his legs back down to normal and stood up properly, his hands shaking as his began to wring them together. Moving as carefully as he could in the dark, he looked around for light, his bottom lip trembling as he began to cry. He couldn't see a thing, his eyes not beginning to adjust the way they did normally. Crying now, he very slowly crouched down and tried to find Woody, his heart clenching as he moved his hands over the earth floor, unable to find him.

"Woody?" he called out very quietly, growing more and more afraid. Why hadn't he looked around properly? There could be anything down here, lots of different things that might try and hurt him. If he could just find Woody. "Woody?" he called a little louder.

Bumping his head, Teddy found the side of the tunnel. Rubbing the dirt from his hair he wiped at his face, trying to take a deep breath. But without Woody he didn't know what to do. Where had he left his back pack? Buzz Lightyear had a laser on his suit, that might help him. But which way did he need to go to find the trap door? Disoriented, Teddy couldn't determine which way would take him back to Buzz, and which way would take him further down the tunnel. He wished he had listened to John, that he had stayed and been good.

"Woody?" he called again.

Inexplainably, Woody came soaring into his arms, his floppy head bumping Teddy on the chin as he enclosed him tightly. Filled with relief, he traced the contours of Woody's face, feeling down his back for his pull string.

"I'd like to join your posse boys, but first, I'm going to sing a little song."

Feeling more confident with Woody by his side, Teddy renewed his search, this time looking for the enclosed flame that had gone out. Would he be able to find it again? Just as he had this thought, light bloomed inside the tunnel, the enclosed flame reappearing a few feet down the tunnel. Leaping to his feet he raced down the tunnel towards it, clumsily tripping over on his way. His knees and hands smarted as he fell, but he barely felt it as he got right back up and reached the enclosed flame. Picking it up, Teddy promised himself that he would be more careful.

Wiping his face on his sleeve, he set off back up the tunnel, towards the trapdoor where he could see his backpack waiting for him. Carefully placing the flame by the ladder, he opened his backpack and safely placed Woody inside.

"Stay in here, alright?" Teddy told him, squashing him in alongside Buzz and Rex. "Just...just wait."

Satisfied, Teddy picked up his flame again and sat down cross legged, waiting for John to reappear. But before he had even gotten comfortable, the trap door opened in a flourish, but instead of looking down and telling Teddy to come out, John came rushing down the ladder, pulling the trap door closed above him.

Teddy looked at him wide-eyed, surprised by his sudden reappearance. "John?" he began in confusion, looking at him curiously.

John was frozen on the ladder, still holding the trap door closed. He was breathing a little heavily, and when he looked down Teddy could tell something had upset him, even behind his silly mask.

"Everything's alright," John hastened to reassure him, but just as he spoke Teddy heard a loud crash coming from the shack above, the sound of yelling voices drifting down.

"What was that?" Teddy asked, getting to his feet.

"Nothing," John said, opening the trap door just a fraction. He was looking out, his expression behind his mask worried.

The sound of more yelling could be head, two voices Teddy determined, but he couldn't hear well enough to make who out it was. The yelling escalated quickly, the tone of the voices making Teddy feel very worried...someone was angry. Very angry.

Suddenly, there was a loud bang from above, echoing down the tunnel and making Teddy's ears hurt. Frightened, he dropped the enclosed flame again and covered his ears, his body beginning to tremble. He didn't like this at all, and he was getting very scared. John had said he was just talking to someone...he didn't say there would be an argument, that people would be yelling.

The enclosed flame did not extinguish this time, and just as Teddy made to pick it up, another loud bang echoed down the tunnel, frightening him again.

"John?" he asked in fear, needing reassurance that everything was alright. There was even more yelling from over head, one voice in particular getting angrier and angrier.

John seemed to ignore Teddy, and a moment later he reopened the trap door and began to climb out again. Getting to his feet, he looked down at Teddy. "Stay here," he said firmly. "I'll be back, I promise."

"Alright," Teddy agreed very quietly.

With that John disappeared, leaving the trapdoor wide open. Standing at the very bottom of the ladder, Teddy looked up at the ceiling in the room above, jumping as yet another loud bang echoed through the shack and down the tunnel. As the first two had, it hurt his ears again, the sound feeling as though it was rushing through his body. He covered his ears too late, heavy sobs spilling from his chest as he came to a quick decision. Frightened tears streaming down his cheeks, he rushed to pick up his backpack and the enclosed flame, and he took off down the tunnel.

Remembering what had happened the last time, he didn't go far, just far enough where he couldn't hear the sound of the angry voices anymore. Sitting down on the earth floor, he placed the flame beside him and his backpack in his lap, hugging it tightly. It was quiet for a few moments, allowing Teddy's heart to stop racing. Taking a deep breath he tried to stop crying, to stop being frightened, but soon the yelling started again. Picking himself up again, he moved a few more feet down the tunnel, as far as he could without losing sight of the trapdoor. There were no more loud bangs now, and he couldn't even hear the yelling.

Nevertheless, his fear did not ease, nor did his quiet sobs. Everything was getting worse and worse, and he wasn't sure how much longer he could be brave.
It was all happening very quickly at the moment. A flurry of heavy footsteps could only just be heard, and seconds later John reappeared in the trapdoor. However this time rather than climbing down the ladder, John jumped straight to the bottom, landing heavily on the ground as the trapdoor slammed closed. With the light from the flame illuminating John where he lay, Teddy watched as John winced as he rushed back to his feet, raising his wand to the trap door above. It glowed as it locked.

There was frantic shouting now, heavy booms raining down on the trapdoor as someone in the room above them pounded on it. Very slowly getting to his feet, Teddy recognised the voice that was shouting above.

"I'll do anything, Remus. Anything!"

"Is that my dad?" Teddy asked John.

John didn't answer, and everything went very quiet. The shouting had ceased, as had the heavy pounding on the trapdoor. Hesitantly returning to John, Teddy looked at him critically, realising that John was crying.

"What's wrong?" he asked, looking back up at the trap door. "John?"

Shaking his head, John wiped at his face as he lowered his wand.

"Was that my dad?"

John looked up suddenly, surprised by this question. He was panting heavily, trying to catch his breath before he answered. "We have to go, Teddy."

"But I-"

"Come on," John said, groaning as he stood up properly and reached for Teddy's hand. "We have to go."

"Wait," he protested, putting his hands behind his back. "I want to see my dad!"

John didn't reply to this, simply grasping Teddy' upper arm and leading him down the tunnel back towards his backpack. John rushed to put Teddy's backpack back on his shoulders, still crying as he levitated the enclosed flame and charmed it to move in front of them.

"What's wrong?" Teddy asked again, not understanding why John was crying. Was he in trouble? Was all the yelling directed at him?

"Nothing," John finally answered, rushing down the tunnel. "Come on, we have to go. Quickly now, quickly."

Despite being hunched over in the low tunnel, John still managed to move very quickly, and Teddy struggled to keep up with him. Sensing the urgency of the situation, he didn't protest too much, and did his best to keep up. Inevitably he tripped over, landing heavily on his knees despite John's grip on his arm. His knees smarted again, this being his second fall in a short time, and tears sprung up in Teddy's eyes again. Terribly frustrated, he didn't want to get up, forcing John to drag him back to his feet. John brushed the dirt off his knees before making him continue.

"John, I want to go home," Teddy cried, wiping his face as he still struggled to keep up.

"I know you do," John said sympathetically.

"I want my dad," Teddy cried next, his voice wavering. "When can I see him?"

It took a long moment for John to answer, and Teddy could tell by his voice that he was still terribly upset. "Soon, Teddy. Really soon, I promise. We're almost finished."

“Finished what?”

Again, John didn’t answer straight away, panting for breath as he ran crouched over. “Just keep being a brave boy, okay Teddy?”

“Okay,” he agreed quietly, stumbling again.

They continued down the long tunnel for quite some time, John never slowing down or allowing Teddy to stop and catch his breath. His feet were hurting inside his boots, and his palms stung from the grazes he had sustained falling over, but he never complained, remembering John’s request that he be brave. Occasionally glancing over his shoulder, he wondered if his dad was following them down the tunnel, certain that he had heard his voice shouting. Was his dad close by? Had he come to take him home?

Just when Teddy thought he couldn’t run any more, John finally began to slow down, stopping as the tunnel suddenly grew very steep, the ceiling beginning to close in. Both of them panting, they stood where they were for a few short moments, John patting him on the back and giving a few words of praise. Telling him to stay put, John began to climb the steep slope ahead of them, his wand raised out in front of him. Light illuminated the tunnel and negated the need for the enclosed flame. Squinting a little, Teddy watched as John looked out through a wide hole that was then opening, a dark grey sky waiting to greet him.

Glancing back to ensure that Teddy was still waiting, John reached up and held onto the edge of the hole, awkwardly pulling himself through and disappearing.

“John?” Teddy called, the enclosed flame vanishing a moment later.

“I’m here,” he said, his face suddenly reappearing in the hole. Returning into full view, John reached his arm back into the tunnel, holding his hand out to Teddy. “Come on, take my hand. I’ll help you out.”

Scrambling to obey, Teddy readjusted his backpack on his shoulders before climbing up the slope, taking John’s outstretched hand. With John to help him through, Teddy easily climbed out of the tunnel and into the cold wind, beginning to shiver as he looked around. They stood by a rather large Willow tree now, whose branches and leaves were perfectly still despite the wind. Snow had fallen heavily here, but Teddy knew on instinct where they were.

Mum had brought him to Hogwarts a few times before she and dad got married here, often visiting Hagrid in his little hut. For some reason, Dad had never come with them, even though he and Hagrid had known each other for years. Looking around now, Teddy could see the path that would lead them down to Hagrid’s hut, and he looked back up at the Whomping Willow, wondering why it was so still. Mum had told him this tree moved, that if he got too close to it he might get hurt.

“John, what are we doing here?”

Not answering, John hastily set about casting more warming charms over Teddy’s clothing, seeing that he was shivering. He was looking around now, quite worried by something, and a moment later John took Teddy’s hand again and led him towards the path.

“Are we going to see Hagrid?”

“No,” John said quietly.

Teddy didn’t ask any more questions, not liking the way John’s voice sounded sad. As much as he didn’t exactly like John, he didn’t want him to be sad either. The sudden arrival at Hogwarts had distracted Teddy from his fear, but as he and John set off up the path again it all came back to him. John was walking even more quickly now, and for some reason he kept looking over his shoulder, hastening Teddy each time he did.

When Teddy fell again, John stopped and picked him up, much to his relief. He carried him now, and Teddy gratefully put his arms around his neck, resting his head on his shoulder as he tried to catch his breath. His cheeks were still wet with tears, as were John’s, but they walked in silence, John gently rubbing his back. John walked for some time, and though he was clearly out of breath his pace never wavered, even as they walked up the steep hill towards the castle. Watching over John’s shoulder, Teddy tried to make out what John was looking at, for he still kept turning around every now and then, looking at something or someone.

Soon enough, John slowed down and came to a stop, but he made no immediate move to put Teddy down. Not wanting to know what was next, Teddy didn’t say or do anything, keeping his face buried in John’s shoulder and hoping he didn't have to do anything. It was nice being held, with someone's arms around him to make him feel a little bit safer, even though John was the one keeping him from his family. He could feel John shaking, though his hold never wavered as he stood there on the spot for a few moments.

Turning around, John spoke quietly, his tone making Teddy's heart clench. "Just wait, please," he said to someone Teddy couldn't see, though he raised his head and looked. "I just want one minute."

"Who's there?" Teddy asked quietly, looking at John, whose eyes were red.

"No one," he replied equally quietly, turning back around.

He held Teddy tightly, suddenly giving him a kiss on the cheek before unwinding his arms from around his neck. As he was set down, Teddy looked around their new surroundings properly, observing the small courtyard and garden. The fountain in the middle was not running, its water frozen in the pool below.

"Teddy?" John began, continuing when he had his attention again. "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"Pardon?"

"When you're a grown up, what will be your job?"
Teddy shrugged, having not expected this strange question. A moment later he remembered the declaration he had made a few months ago, when he had been helping his mum at her work. "I'm going to a Muggle University," he told John proudly. "I'm going to be a Marine Scientist."

"Wow," John said, smiling as he straightened up Teddy's coat, brushing the snow off his shoulders. "What does a Marine Scientist do?"

"They look after animals in the ocean."

"That sounds very exciting. You'll have to study hard."

"Well, I have to go to primary school first," Teddy clarified, looking around again. He was still wondering what they were doing here at Hogwarts. "And then Hogwarts too, when I'm eleven."

John nodded, still smoothing out Teddy's coat. "Are you warm enough?"

"Yes," he replied, noting the sadness in John's voice had not waned.

"Good," John said to himself, glancing over his shoulder once more. He said nothing for a long moment, only turning back to Teddy and looking at him sadly "Are you listening? I've got a very important job for you to do."

"What is it?"

John coughed, clearing his throat and stalling his reply. "Come here...look over there, do you see those people?"

Doing as instructed, Teddy followed John's gaze and looked at two people sitting on the other side of the courtyard, partially hidden by a dormant garden. They were sitting next to each other, kissing and giggling.

"Yeah," he confirmed, still looking at them.

Taking a very long time to answer, John finally explained. "I need you to go over to them, and tell them your name."

"Why?"

"They're going to help you find your mum and dad."

"Where are you going?" Teddy asked nervously, for some reason not feeling as relieved as he should.

"I'm going somewhere else."

"Where?"

"It doesn't matter," John implored. "But you're going home. Your mum and dad have missed you lots."

Nodding very slowly, Teddy looked back to the two people across the courtyard, who were still kissing. Confusion and uncertainty filled him. How long would it take these people to find his mum and dad? How much longer was he going to have to wait?

"But what are you doing now?" Teddy asked again, still not understanding. Where would John go?

"It doesn't matter," John repeated urgently. "But you're going home, okay? Your mum and dad are waiting for you."

"Alright," he agreed, but he made no effort to move away. Something kept his feet firmly on the ground, standing by John who looked as scared as Teddy felt. "So you're not coming with me?"

"No," John said. Taking a deep breath he leant forward and kissed Teddy on the cheek again, then stood up and took a step back. "Go on. It’s alright."

Swallowing nervously, he watched as John took another step away, prompting Teddy to panic a little. He made to follow John, not wanting him to go. John was the only person that Teddy knew...he didn't want to join those other two people, he didn't know them at all. At least he knew John a little, but as he recalled John's instructions, he remembered the promise that he was going home, that his mum and dad were waiting for him. Stopping in his tracks, Teddy watched as John turned away and kept walking, leaving him there completely alone. Soon he was gone completely.

"John?" Teddy called, but there was no reply.

He stood there on the spot for a minute or so, part of him wondering if John was going to change his mind. Looking over his shoulder, Teddy watched the two people across the courtyard, summoning all his bravery so that he would be able to approach them. Waiting until he was sure John wasn’t going to return, Teddy held on to the straps of his back pack as he made his way across the courtyard. With great uncertainty, he approached the two people, who didn't look quite as grown up as his mum and dad. Remembering he was at Hogwarts, he realised they were probably students.

Before he could open his mouth to get their attention, the boy looked up at him, leaping away from his girlfriend in fright. He swore loudly, using one of the words that Teddy wasn't allowed to use, and when his girlfriend turned around and saw him she gave a small squeak of surprise.

"Hello," Teddy said, so quietly they probably didn't hear him. Looking over his shoulder nervously, a part of him wished John would come back for him.

The two students sat there frozen, looking at him as though he were a troll.

"What is it?" the boy said, earning him a slap across his chest from his girlfriend.

"A kid, you idiot," she said sharply, standing up and looking at Teddy closely. "Are you lost, kid?"

Teddy shook his head. He knew exactly where he was. Again he checked over his shoulder, but John was still gone. Inexplicably he began to cry, even though he should be happy that John was gone, that he was going home to mum and dad. But a niggling question remained in the back of Teddy’s mind. Where was John going now? What was he doing next? Would he be okay? He didn’t seem to have friends that liked him very much.

"What's your name?" the girl asked him hurriedly, seeing that he was crying.

Teddy answered her, just as John had told him to. "Teddy Potter."

The two students gasped, exchanging looks of surprise. "Teddy Potter?" the boy asked.

"Yes," he replied quietly. Still looking over his shoulder, he wondered if John was still close by. Maybe he was going to change his mind about allowing Teddy to go home. "Do you know my mum and dad?"

The boy laughed at this, rather loudly. "Hell yes we do!"

"Don't cuss in front of him," the girl scolded, beginning to ignore her boyfriend in favour of Teddy. "Come on, let's go inside."

"Can you take me home?" Teddy asked, turning around and taking her hand when she offered it. “I know my address, I can give it to you.”

"Oh, erm," she muttered uncertainly, glancing at Teddy's grazed palm. "Maybe we should take you to Madam Pomfrey."

"Take it to Hagrid," the boy said. "He knows the Potters."

"Yes!" Teddy agreed. "He knows where my dad lives."

"Okay," the girl agreed, relieved to have a plan. "Let's go then. Do you want me to-"

"Yep," Teddy said, knowing what she was going to say.

He allowed her to pick him up, the three of them setting off back towards Hagrid’s cabin. Her arms felt just as safe and comforting as John's had, and so Teddy put his arms around her neck and his face into her shoulder, closing his eyes and waiting until it was all over.
 


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Onward, to Greater Things: Chapter 27 Lupin

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