Natural History Lessons

March 10, 2005

"Okay, Dad," said Teddy. "I've finished."

Remus took the piece of parchment that his son was holding out to him and read through the rows of sums. He tapped one with his wand, and it glowed red.

12 + 7 = 15

"Want to give this one another look?" he asked mildly, handing the parchment back.

Teddy scowled at the uncooperative sum—looking just like Dora always did when she was trying to work something out. Then his face cleared, and he peered up at Remus, a little sheepishly.

"It's nineteen, isn't it?"

"Good lad." Remus tapped the problem again. The red glow faded, and the answer rewrote itself to read 19. He placed the parchment in a box labeled, in Teddy's uneven handwriting, Maths. "I think you're ready for multiplication. We'll start tomorrow."

"Let's do birds next." Teddy bounced a little in his chair. "We didn't do any natural history yesterday."

Remus grinned. "All right." This had been his plan from the beginning—it was an unusually mild day, after all.

He got to his feet and held the study door open for his son. Teddy dashed through, rucksack in hand, and had his wellies on before Remus finished scrawling a quick note to let Dora and Andromeda know where they would be.

They went out the kitchen door and started along the slightly muddy path that wound past the venerable willow tree and around the pond. Teddy marched along happily, taking two strides to Remus's one, scanning the brush and reeds for signs of birds.

"I have a question for you." Remus glanced down at the thatch of hair that was lime-green today, clashing Dora-style with a pair of emphatically orange earmuffs. "How would you feel about having lessons with Nana Weasley at the Burrow on Fridays?"

"Every Friday?" Teddy looked up curiously. "Not just for the moon? Why?"

"Well," said Remus, "Minister Shacklebolt would like me to start working at the Ministry once a week or so."

"Oh." Teddy frowned. "Will Victoire be at the Burrow too?"

"She will." Remus chuckled at the disgruntled expression on his son's face—his almost-cousin clearly loomed far larger in his thoughts than the Minister for Magic. But that was quite reasonable, since Kingsley only came by for dinner every now and then, while Victoire attached herself to Teddy like a limpet every chance she got. "Maybe you can help Nana teach her the alphabet."

"Oh," Teddy repeated, looking thoughtful. "That might not be too bad."

They rounded a bend and reached their favourite birdwatching spot, a fat fallen log that lay near the edge of the pond and not too far from a clump of scrubby bushes. Moving slowly and carefully, they sat down to wait for any bird that might show itself.

"There," Teddy breathed. "Look, Dad, there's one."

Remus followed the eager pointing finger and saw a flicker of wings in a small bramble bush.

"Well spotted," he said, keeping his voice low. "See how far you can get before it flies away."

Teddy pulled a notebook and a handful of coloured pencils out of his knapsack. Remus, peeking over his son's shoulder, watched the blocky outline of a bird take shape. Teddy was no better at drawing than any other child at six going on seven, but he was getting to be very good at noticing the colours and markings that tell one bird from another—often well enough for him to find his specimen in Andromeda's Birds of Magical and Muggle Britain once they returned to the house.

Remus sat back and let his eyes drift half closed, listening to the scratching of Teddy's pencils, soaking up the warmth of the early spring sunshine—

—and suddenly found himself wondering if he was really ready to give this up.

He blinked, astonished at the direction his thoughts had taken. Kingsley had offered him a job—a real job, doing meaningful work for a good salary—and he was actually considering whether or not he wanted to take it.

Only a few short years ago, this sort of indecision would have been utterly inconceivable. He would have grasped desperately at just about any job that came his way.

But that was before he had assumed his current position as home tutor for one Teddy Lupin.

Shaking his head ruefully, Remus dragged his attention back to the bird, which was still rustling about in its bush. He saw Teddy lean forward, squinting, looking for more clues that might help him identify his quarry conclusively.

Click. Whirr.

The sudden soft noises from behind sent Remus (slowly and quietly) to his feet.

There stood Dora, still in her Auror robes, peering around from behind old Ted's boxy black camera. Smirking.

She certainly was getting better at Stealth and Tracking if he hadn't heard her approach at all...

Remus stepped carefully through the long grass until he reached his wife, pulling her close for a warm kiss.

"Mum said you two were out here," she whispered. "I thought I'd better come and drag you inside, or we'll be late for someone's birthday dinner at Harry and Ginny's."

Remus laughed under his breath. "Never fear. There's no chance Teddy would forget about a dinner with Harry, whatever the occasion." He slipped an arm around Dora's waist as they turned back to watch their son, still busy sketching.

"We discussed the prospect of Friday lessons at Molly's," Remus murmured into her hair. "It seems Teddy won't mind." One corner of his mouth curved into a wry half-smile.

Dora started to nod, but then she pulled away to face him again. "You aren't having second thoughts about taking the job, are you?" Her gaze was sharp.

"No, no," he said quickly, but that didn't stop her eyebrow going up. "Well, not really," he amended lamely.

"It will be good for Teddy to learn how to have lessons with different people," said Dora firmly.

"I know."

"This job is the culmination of all your hard work with Matthias and Hermione since the end of the war."

"Indeed."

"There's no better way to celebrate the fact that it's finally legal for even the Ministry to hire werewolves, than to fill a position there yourself."

"That thought had crossed my mind." He was smiling now, if a little wistfully.

"And—" she waggled a finger at him—"Supervisory Director of Werewolf Support Services. Just imagine all the influence you'll have, overseeing the Wolfsbane distribution program, bringing your clout as a decorated war hero to investigate cases of discrimination—"

"I know, Dora." He sighed. "I can't not take the job, after all Kingsley's done in the name of justice since the war."

She pressed a kiss to his cheek. "Teddy will be going to Hogwarts in just a few more years—you'll need something to do with yourself after that." And then it was her turn to look wistful. "Besides, you've had him every day for nearly seven years already."

Remus tightened his hold on his wife. Dora had always been the family's only breadwinner. It had never been an option for her to stay home and teach Teddy to count, or to finger-paint, or to plant early peas in the garden behind the house.

"You're right," he said, resting his cheek on the top of her head. "And I'll have him almost every day for a few years more. If Ginny doesn't have all of our hides for being late for dinner, that is."

She laughed, twining her fingers through his, and began to walk back toward Teddy, who had stood up to pack his things away in his rucksack. The cracked leather camera strap slipped down her shoulder, and she scowled, trying to hitch it back up again.

"Why the camera, anyway?" Remus asked, taking it and slinging it carefully over his own shoulder.

"Documentary photography. Today was a natural history lesson, right?" Dora grinned up at him. "I was capturing Lupins in their natural habitat."

. * fin * .

Author's note: If you're curious about the Matthias mentioned here, he is an original character -- a member of Greyback's pack introduced in my story "Out of Sight," which was posted at the metamorfic_moon community on LiveJournal (where I'm "shimotsuki").