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Chapter 4: Chapter Three: Those Lazy and Emotional Days of Summer
A/N: Hello and thanks for reading along so far!! I'm very grateful for all of your support and quite sorry for the long delay in posting this chapter.
The sounds of affectionate conversation and genuine laughter floated through the air. These pleasant sounds intertwined with the rhythmic sound of the waves caressing the sandy shore and the periodic cry of the gulls floating lazily on the breeze. The sky was a vibrant and clear shade of blue, marred only by the dappling of white clouds. The sun beat down indiscriminately on the conglomeration of people gathered outside of a homey looking cottage and left a trail of reddened noses and freckled cheeks in its wake. Both the weather and the assortment of people gathered together alluded to the same thing – it was a beautiful, late-July afternoon for welcoming the two newest members of the Weasley family outside of Shell Cottage.
A handful of people were seated at a long wooden picnic table not far from the cottage’s quaint porch, where several others sat on the swing. Empty serving dishes and dirty plates lay strewn over the table’s surface as evidence of the meal that had already been enjoyed. Those seated at the table were now engaged in jovial and easy conversation; bits of which could be heard floating in the breeze above the continual lapping of the waves.
A tall and lanky red-headed man sporting a pair of wire rim spectacles was seated next to a kind-looking, round faced woman with curly strawberry blond hair. Her obvious Muggle dress, though out of place at the table, was of no consequence to the others seated at the table. The woman bounced a giggling red-headed girl on her knee and smiled absent mindedly as her husband spoke.
“—and then Kingsley, mind you, Kingsley Shacklebolt slapped me on the back and told me that I should be proud of my work. The Minister of Magic told me that he liked my work,” Percy Weasley’s voice never lost a bit of its enthusiasm despite the blank stares he was receiving from his unwilling audience. With his ministry story complete, he began a vivid account of everything Molly had done that day. From the sound of things, Percy was certain that his daughter was to be a shoe-in for Minister of Magic before she ever turned one.
Across the table George sniggered and jammed his elbow into his younger brother’s side. Ron bit back the laugh growing within his chest and threw a quick glance towards his wife. To his surprise, her lips weren’t pursed, and she didn’t seem to disapprove of George and his own private mockery of their pompous brother. Feeling confident that he wouldn’t be reprimanded, Ron allowed a quiet chortle to escape his lips.
Hermione did not notice her husband’s behaviour. She sat staring into her lap with a strained face. Ron noticed her face and ran a comforting hand across her back. At his touch, her shoulders heaved and she brought her hands up in front of her mouth. She quickly stood up from the table and scurried across the yard into the cottage. Ron’s ears turned a brilliant shade of red, he muttered something about her having the stomach flu, and he tried his best to hide the smile threatening to grace his features.
Next to them at the table, Bill and Charlie sat staring after Hermione. Their eyes bounced from her to their youngest brother’s scarlet face, and a curious tension settled over the table. George had noticed the awkward atmosphere that his sister-in-law’s impromptu departure had initiated.
“Geez Perce,” George, not one for uncomfortable silences, quickly chirped. “You really ought to work on your stories. That one was so bad that you off and landed Hermione sick. If they get any worse we’ll all be dropping like flies.” Everyone chuckled at Percy’s expense; Ron gave George an appreciative glance.
At the other end of the table, Arthur sat with his eldest grandson on his lap. Dom had already finished eating, but wasn’t allowed down to play until his sister had finished hers as well – Molly’s orders. Across from them at the table, the haughty five year old sat and pushed most of her dinner around on the plate with her fork.
“Grandpa, I don’t want to eat this,” her face was positioned into a perfect pout, and her voice lilted with a slight whine. “I’m not even hungry.” Never paying much mind to Molly’s rules, Arthur sighed, nodded to her, and then set Dom down on the sandy ground. Victoire skipped happily down the beach and plunked down into the sand. Dom followed closely behind her and took a seat near his sister. Arthur glanced up at the cottage’s porch where Molly sat with the guests of honour, noted that his infringement on her rules had not been noticed, and turned his attention back to his eldest son’s children where they were playing near the water’s edge
On the porch, Molly sat on the porch swing with Ginny and Fleur. A tiny bundle wrapped in a blue blanket lay quietly in the crook of her elbow; a patch of Weasley-red hair adorned the top of the babe’s head. Fleur hovered nervously as her mother-in-law swung back and forth gently and hummed softly to the small boy.
“My oh my, little Louis. You are a handsome little tyke. Just like your Daddy.” Molly said in a sing-song voice to the month-old bundle in her arms. “It’s about time your Mummy had one that looked like a Weasley.” After years of experience dealing with her mother-in-law, Fleur ignored the slight slap and ran a protective, motherly hand over her son’s head.
Ginny smiled at her newest nephew for a second before a tiny gurgling sound commanded her attention. She looked across the porch to where Harry was perched as his seven-year-old godson cautiously held another small baby. This scene warmed Ginny’s heart, and a smile split her tired face from ear to ear. In the two weeks since James’s birth, Harry had been very anxious for Teddy to meet him. The smile on Harry’s face told Ginny that the introduction was going better than he had anticipated.
“See Teddy, James likes you. Look at his smile. I told you, you’re going to be just like a big brother.” Harry ruffled the boy’s shaggy, sandy-coloured hair. Teddy looked up at Harry and grinned apprehensively.
“He’s awfully small. And sort of wrinkly,” Teddy’s quick summary of James’ appearance caused a deep chuckle to escape Harry’s mouth. “You really think he’ll like me? I hope so, when he gets bigger we can – whoa. He’s a bit wriggly.” Harry smiled and took James from the young boy’s arms. “You know, I like his hair colour.” Teddy screwed up his face and then nervously looked up at his godfather. His hair was now a dark, auburn red colour. “Now I look like James!” Harry glanced across the porch and caught Ginny’s eyes; they both smiled.
As the afternoon wore on, Teddy remained still like a floppy-eared watchdog next to whoever happened to be holding James. Feeling responsible for his godson, Harry excused himself from his conversation with Molly and Ginny and walked over to Teddy who was sitting next to Ron on the porch steps. Ron’s face was pale and he appeared nervous as he tried to gracefully switch James to his other arm. Harry looked at Ron suspiciously for a moment, but said nothing before turning his attention back to his godson. Just as it had been earlier, Teddy’s hair still matched the little bit found on James’ head. Unlike earlier, the young boy’s attention was not solely on the baby, but often wandered down to the beach where Victoire and Dom sat near a growing mound of sand.
“You know Teddy; you can go down to the beach with Victoire and Dom.” Harry gently suggested. “James will still be around later when we go home.” Teddy considered his words carefully before jumping up and scampering down the way to the beach, cautious not to look too eager to go play.
On the beach, Victoire sat and adamantly dumped handfuls of sand onto the already large mound in front of her. Her face was screwed up in concentration and her bottom lip was clamped dutifully between her teeth. Dom was toddling about and pulling shells and sticks from the sand, which he delivered to his preoccupied sister. As Teddy neared the two siblings, he watched as Dom placed a broken shell atop the pile of sand. Victoire frowned, buried the shell under a fresh handful of sand, and sent Dom even further down the beach to continue his search. The sound of approaching feet snapped Victoire from her astute concentration, and she looked up.
“Teddy!” she squealed in excitement. “I thought you was never going to come play with us.” She smiled up at him from the ground. “I had to build this castle with only Dom helping. And he don’t help right, he’s too wittle.” She shot a reproachful look down the beach where Dom had knelt down to poke a critter in the sand. “Are you finally going to play with me now?”
“We always play together.” Teddy was slightly puzzled at Victoire’s question and thought the answer was painfully clear. He had missed the pang of jealousy in her voice.
“Well I thought maybe you liked Uncle Harry’s baby better than me.” Teddy sighed. He thought that he had explained this to her already. Apparently five year-olds were bad at paying attention. Just as he opened his mouth to explain everything to her again, Victoire cut him off, “Teddy Bear! Your hairs look silly, why are they red?”
Teddy suddenly felt incredibly ridiculous and brought a hand up to his baby-James coloured hair. He quickly screwed up his face and restored his normal shade of bright blue.
“There you fixed them. They look much better now.” Victoire concluded in a very matter-of-fact tone. “Now we need to finish building this castle so then we can be princesses and live in it forever.” Teddy couldn’t help but smile at Victoire’s girly-plan.
“Victoire, only girls can be princesses. I’m a boy. Besides,” his attention turned to the mound of sand between them, “this doesn’t look like a castle. It looks like a fort.” He reached over and plucked a long strand of sand grass from the ground and stuck it into the top of the pile. “See now its got a flag. This is the best fort ever built.” He puffed out his chest and tried to look as important as he possibly could. “I claim this fort in the name of Teddy and Victoire – the two best adventurers that ever lived.” He turned to look at Victoire. She looked up at him blankly.
“What’s adventurers?” she asked, her voice sceptical.
“What’re adventurers? Vic, adventurers go on adventures. They fight dragons and save Muggles and all kinds of neat stuff.” As he explained things to her, her face broke into a huge, face-splitting smile.
“Babies can’t do all that stuff. It’s too dangerous.” Her eyes were bright, a plan was cooking in her head. “Louis and James will have to stay here – Dom can keep them company. Only me and you can go on the adventures.” Teddy listened to her thought process with patience beyond his seven years. “Good thing we’re best friends, huh Teddy Bear?” Victoire finally concluded as she gently poked the sand-fort’s grand flag.
“Yeah. It’s a good thing. Now,” Teddy’s voice dropped to barely a whisper, “I heard there was a really evil dragon in that cave up there. We have to go have a look. We have to be brave. Ready?” Together, the two scurried down the beach on their adventure.
On the porch, Harry sat next to Bill. James and Louis both slept soundly in both of their father’s arms. Looking out over the beach, they both watched as a short, blue-haired boy and a skinny, blonde girl rushed back and forth across the water’s edge. Tall with strawberry blonde hair, Dom sat dutifully next to a large pile of sand.
“Look at them, Harry.” Bill’s voice pulled Harry from his quiet observance. “Whenever she knows you and Teddy are going to be around, that’s all she talks about. She’s really fond of him; he’s a good break from her brothers.” Bill chuckled at the thought of his daughter’s impatience with her younger siblings.
“I think it’s good for Teddy to spend time with her and the rest of the kids too.” Harry lowered his voice as James stirred in his arms. “Merlin knows that growing up by yourself isn’t good for a kid. Andromeda is wonderful, but he needs to be around kids his own age, enjoying childhood.” Harry’s eyes looked down at the beach, but Bill could tell he wasn’t seeing his niece and godson; his mind was elsewhere.
“Don’t worry Harry. Teddy isn’t growing up how you did.” Bill answered Harry’s unvoiced questions. “He’s happy. He has a family that loves him, Victoire loves him. Before long we’ll be planning his and my little girl’s wedding.” Bill laughed jovially at the long-running joke and was joined after a moment by Harry’s own sincere laugh.
“You know Bill, you’re right. Teddy is happy, so I must be doing something right, eh?” Harry rose to his feet and walked over to the picnic table where Ginny was seated with Hermione. They were engrossed in a serious conversation that ended abruptly as Harry approached. “Oi, Gin, take James for a bit. I want to go talk to Teddy.” Harry passed the sleeping newborn to his wife.
Ginny and Hermione followed Harry’s progress down the hill with matching concerned expressions. Once Harry reached the shore line, his silhouette was blocked out by the sinking evening sun. They turned back towards each other and resumed their conversation. Ginny squealed and excitedly grabbed Hermione’s knee.
Victoire squealed and ran up to Harry as he approached where she and Teddy were adventuring. She enthusiastically hugged his leg.
“Uncle Harry! Me and Teddy Bear are on an adventure. We’re looking for dragons just like Uncle Charlie!” She scrunched up her face and wiped several wayward strands of hair from her face.
“That’s great, Victoire.” Harry made a mental note to tell Charlie about his fan club. “Why don’t you take Dom and go up to the porch and find your Daddy. He’ll probably want to hear all about the dragons.” Harry watched as Victoire and Dom made their way up the hill to the cottage. Teddy ran over to Harry, out of breath and sweaty.
“Harry, we almost caught the dragon! We were this close.” He indicated the distance between his thumb and forefinger.
“That’s great Teddy.” Harry affectionately ruffled his godson’s blue hair. “Hey mate, can I talk to you for a minute?” Teddy could sense the serious undertone in Harry’s voice and followed him down to the sand fort.
“We’re not talking about dragons anymore are we?” Teddy said disappointedly and took a seat next to Harry and dug his fingers into the warm sand.
“No, Teddy. I wanted to talk to you about your mum and dad.” Harry paused for a minute to collect what he wanted to say. “I just want you to understand that your Nan and I try our best to keep you happy, but we can never replace your parents. If you ever want to talk about them, or need anything you just have to tell me.” There was a long pause, but Teddy could tell that his godfather wasn’t done talking yet. He remained quiet and waited for him to finish. “I know that things are going to be different now that James is finally here, but you’re still my best little man. I just want you to know that; Ginny agrees too.”
Teddy considered Harry’s words carefully. He had never doubted that his godfather loved him, and thought that James was the best thing in the world. However, he had been a tad worried that he was going to have to take a back seat to Harry’s actual son.
“I know that you and Nan love me. And I know that my Mum and Dad love me too. You tell me all the time.” Teddy wriggled his toes into the sand and chanced a glance up at Harry’s face. “But this is just how my family is.” Harry studied his godson’s face and wondered where this conversation was going. “Victoire and Dom and Louis have a Maman and a Daddy, and Molly has a Mum and a Dad, and James has you and Ginny and me, and I have a Nan and a Harry. Everyone’s family is different, that’s just how it is.” Teddy’s seven-year-old logic resonated for a moment after he had finished speaking.
Teddy’s simplistic view of an increasingly complicated world left Harry with a lump in his throat. He roughly cleared it away and swallowed several times before smiling and digging up his godson’s feet. Feet now exposed, Teddy gave Harry a menacing look before breaking into a fit of giggles.
“I’ll race you to the cottage!” Teddy managed to shout in between bursts of laughter. “The last one there is a rotten dung-bomb!” He darted up the hill towards the cottage kicking up sand as he ran.
Harry watched him for a moment before looking skyward. The outline of the moon could be seen in the brightly lit sky. He smiled, swallowed back tears that had suddenly arisen in his throat, and followed Teddy up the hill.
Be sure to keep posted for the next chapter!! Teddy will be getting ready for his first year of Hogwarts! And as always, leave a review. I love to hear your opinions.