Chapter 1 : Master Adventurer
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Teddy Lupin was feeling particularly bored.
The hot summer day made the indoors unbearable, forcing the restless 10-year-old outside where the unforgiving sun was swallowing most of the shade at its highest peak in the sky. His grandmother, Andromeda Tonks, had told him that he would have to wait until his grandfather, Ted Tonks, his namesake, returned home from work before he could go to visit Victoire and Dominique. She had 'important grown-up things to do,' or so she claimed. Teddy hated when she referred to things as being 'grown-up'. He was, after all, almost a 'grown-up' himself.
He was still too young to be off on his own, so, for now, he would have to settle for adventuring within the confines of the backyard. In fact, Teddy had explored all sorts of places in the backyard: the tree house, where he'd discovered three knuts, two acorns, and a particularly interesting rock; the porch, where he'd discovered a busy bee's nest, which he knew better than to disturb; the pond, where he'd discovered a family of happy, croaking toads and a number of different kinds of insects; and the garden, where a slew of mischievous gnomes had driven him off. He would need some reinforcement if he was going to overcome those pesky gnomes.
Teddy decided that the forest's edge would be a fantastic place to find a weapon against the garden offenders. The slim amount of shade allowed for a bit of relief from the sun's rays, but the boy was far too preoccupied with his task to worry about a little bit of discomfort from the heat. Defeating the gnomes was an important mission, after all.
He smiled victoriously as he found a stick, a good stick, a stick big and smooth enough to assist him in his de-gnoming expedition.
As he turned to triumphantly head back to the garden, something peculiar caught his eye. About a yard away from him, at the very edge of the tree-line, something pink and bulbous sat, just out of the reach of the sun. Those gnomes could wait, Teddy decided, as they certainly weren't going anywhere anytime soon. He needed to find out what the pink object was because, after all, he was a master explorer, and discovering things was his primary mission.
At first glance, he decided that the object was a strange, pink mushroom. It's long stem seemed off-balance to its short, rounded cap, which housed blotchy white spots and long, black thorns. Teddy leaned closer inspecting the two curly appendages that extended from the stem, much like arms. He changed his hair to match the bright, offending color, complete with black spikes and white spots. He liked this bizarre fungus.
With mild trepidation, he moved his stick forward to prod the mushroom. Once the end of the wooden object made contact however, the pink fungus did something that Teddy certainly wasn't expecting. With a shriek, the mushroom curled and uncurled its appendages, waving back and fourth, pulling its roots up from the ground. Like many extremely tiny legs, the roots began carrying the plant – or creature, perhaps – away from the boy and towards the trees.
Recovering from his surprise, Teddy shouted, “Wait! Wait! Come back! I'm sorry!”
The creature hesitated for a moment, frozen in its gait.
“Please come back,” the young explorer continued. “I didn't mean to upset you.”
It curled and uncurled its appendages, but remained stationary otherwise.
Teddy frowned. He didn't mean to upset the mushroom, in fact, he was certain that mushrooms didn't have feelings. Finally, realization dawned on the boy. “Oh! I know what you are! You're a horklump.” Andromeda had read him a bedtime story about horklumps, they weren't dangerous, but perhaps a little annoying, according to the story.
The pink creature made a gentle cooing noise as it continued to rock back and fourth.
“Just stay away from the garden,” Teddy advised, “We've got a problem with gnomes, and I heard that they like to eat –”
Before he could finish, however, the creature began squealing again.
Blanching, the boy attempted to soothe the creature once more. “Don't worry, I'll protect you,” he promised, holding out the long stick and effectively quieting the creature.
The pair sat in silence for a moment, the mushroom resuming its wavering movements. It reminded Teddy very much of dancing, swaying with such elegant movements. “Do you have a name?” he asked.
The horklump squeaked, never ceasing its motions.
“Well, everybody needs a name,” the boy told it. “I'll call you... Lumpy.”
The horklump squeaked again – a happy squeak, Teddy decided. How could it not be happy with such a creative and superb name like Lumpy.
The adventurer's stomach growled. It was clearly time for a snack. He sat down on the soft grass, still a distance away from his new friend, and pulled out a bag of sugary, colored cereal from his pocket. That was his favorite kind of cereal; he loved practicing changing his hair into all of the different colors of the flakes. His grandmother told him that the sugar would stunt his growth, but he didn't mind. He was tall enough.
As he opened the bag, Lumpy made a whirring sound and began approaching Teddy slowly.
The boy smiled. “Hungry?” he asked, pulling a blue flake from the bag and extending his arm out to the small creature.
Lumpy uncurled both of its long arms and quickly snatched the flake from the boy's fingers, making a particularly pleased sound and retreating a few tiny paces away. Making another chipper noise, the horklump brought the flake up to one of its thorns and impaled it. It began waving and swaying again, contented with its new accessory.
“You're supposed to eat it,” Teddy told it. “You aren't supposed to wear it, are you?”
The horklump simply squeaked and rocked.
“Actually... where is your mouth?” The boy leaned forward to inspect the gyrating creature. “Where are your eyes? You can't see without eyes.” He tossed a few flakes in his mouth, contemplating how Lumpy could possibly function without eyes or a mouth. “How do you eat? Or breathe? You don't have a nose either. And you don't have ears. How can you hear?”
Lumpy approached the explorer again as he reached back into the bag.
Teddy laughed and handed it an orange flake, which it happily added to a different thorn. He changed two of his own spikes to match the colors of the flakes and laughed. “You'd think it's funny, too,” he said, “if you could see what I did.”
He spent the majority of the afternoon with Lumpy, allowing it to take his sugary cereal flakes and add them to its spikes, in a rainbow of colors. He continued to entertain himself, changing his hair color to match the spectrum of flakes on the horklump's cap, until the shade had moved over him, late in the afternoon.
“Teddy!” his grandmother called from the porch, beckoning him in from his quality time.
Sadly, the boy began to pick himself up from the ground. “I'm sorry, Lumpy, but I have to go now.”
The horklump made a low sound, visibly sulking.
“I can come back tomorrow,” he said, “around the same time!”
Lumpy inflated once more, squealing with delight and waving its arms high above its cap.
“I'll see you then!” He turned to leave. “Oh, and remember, stay away from the garden!”
True to his word, Teddy returned to see his new friend the next day, and the day after that, and for many, many days after that.
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