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Amidst the Ashes by TheHeirOfSlytherin
Chapter 9: Answers
The two friends sat in silence, alone in the Auror department's conference room. Neither knew what to say to each other to calm their nerves and the quiet surrounding the suddenly huge room became awkward, the tension mounting.
Harry watched Ron spin his chair from side to side, deducing from his frown that he was still trying to put his thoughts into words. Harry had a feeling he knew what the man's questions would be about; how Harry knew about Ted, wondering what he had been keeping from him. But he chose not to dwell on it for too long, instead thinking of his family. Lily had been crying the whole way home, asking questions about 'the man on the bridge', while James had stayed quiet and just gone up to his room. He had been five the first time; he still had some memories and they had come back full force, both Harry and Ginny had noticed that, so neither objected when he went straight to his room.
Albus had stayed at Harry's side until he'd eventually fallen asleep on the couch with his head resting on his dad's shoulder. He'd always been the more cautious of the three, always looking to Harry for reassurance before doing something and always running to his side when something was wrong, even at fourteen. But the last time Al had been so scared that he'd refused to leave Harry at all, he'd been a small child.
Harry had left him with Ginny, still asleep on the couch, when he'd come to the Ministry to meet Ron; she'd let him go, promising she'd get an explanation from him soon. It was past midnight now and most employees were long gone; they'd figured that if Teddy were to come back then, being the most private place at this time and the least likely place for him to be seen by others, this would be the place he'd come.
They hoped they were right.
Harry and Ron played the waiting game in complete silence until the clock struck one, Ron having completely given up trying to start conversation. But it was neither of them who finally broke the silence.
"You can cut through the tension in this room like a knife in butter."
They rose from their seats quickly, Ron's falling over in his haste, and they immediately noticed the dark circles around the younger man's eyes, his shoulders shaking and the waver in his voice. "Harry."
"Teddy," Harry whispered. For the first time in ten years, he was able to see his godson in person, real and standing right in front of him. He crossed the room and pulled the man to him, holding on tightly. "You're here."
"I'm here." Ted pulled away slowly, watching Harry let go reluctantly, and followed him to the desk. He nodded his head in acknowledgment of Ron's presense, but, still bitter over his words, chose to sit by Harry instead. He thread his fingers through his hair and dropped his head down onto the table. He was exhausted and after all this time, Teddy just wanted it over.
"What happened to you, Ted?"
Lifting his gaze to face Harry, Teddy nodded slowly. He needed his godfather's help to get him, he couldn't do it on his own anymore. He had to talk, tell the whole truth, and now was the time. He cupped his hands, his fingers threaded together, and leaned forward. "I was looking for the bathroom that night, took a wrong turn and ended up in the basement. The door swung shut and I couldn't get out. I could barely see, I didn't even know if it could only open on the outside or not."
Teddy pulled at the collar of his shirt as though it was hard to breath, each gasp of air suddenly painful. "I tried to yell, but no one could hear me. Then everyone else screaming. The smoke came through from under the door, but not the fire. I couldn't breath, I couldn't call for you anymore. I crawled away and there was a window in the back. I managed to get out, but I must have passed out from the smoke. I was only around the corner from the building."
"God," Harry whispered, rubbing his hands over his eyes. The knowledge that his godson had been so close to him and he hadn't known felt like a physical blow to his stomach.
Teddy put a hand on Harry's shoulder and squeezed gently. "You didn't know."
"I should have searched," he argued.
"Don't do that, Harry," Ron scolded him as though he were a child. "Searching the area never crossed anyone else's mind either. We didn't know. What happened next, Teddy?"
"I woke up in a house, not far away," he continued. "This couple were staring down at me, asking me questions and trying to know if I was alright. They'd called a doctor and he said it was the smoke inhalation; I couldn't speak to them. Their daughter was a few years younger than me, about seven, she was nice. She kept getting me water and reading me her stories. Dannie, her name was. Their son, he was older. I couldn't remember his name, but I knew him from school and he knew me. He didn't tell them. I wanted to go home and he wouldn't tell them."
Teddy swallowed, choking back angry tears that threatened to fall when he remembered the boy. "I was there less than a week, I was getting better. Eventually, I told them my name and yours, they said they'd find you in the morning. On the last night there, the night I'd started talking, I got out of the bed to use the bathroom. I heard him come, saw him. He scared me, so I hid there when he went into the room, listened to him beat the bed with something hard. I don't know how long it took before he realized I wasn't there, but I had already snuck out of the room and ran. I was so scared, I didn't stop. They all knew who I was now and I was scared to go home in case he found me, so I didn't. I changed my appearance so he wouldn't recognize me and I found David. I went to Beauxbatons and I trained to be an Auror. And he was the only one who ever knew."
"Why did that kid want to hurt you?" Harry asked quietly, outraged by what he was hearing and trying to remain calm. He knew his face had gone pale and his hands were clenched tightly. But he didn't say anymore.
"Because I was the one who had stopped him from beating up David in school, I went to the head teacher and I got him expelled. He was trying to beat him to death, I still don't know why, but he broke David's bones and scared him into leaving the country." Teddy leaned back into his chair finally, controlled his shaking. "He's insane and he hates us and we still don't know why."
"Why did you come back here?" Ron asked him after a few moments of silence, getting to the questions that were most important, needed. "Why did you pretend to be David and come here for this case?"
"Because of this." Teddy unzipped his jacket and pulled out a thick, brown file, much like case files the Ministry kept. He dropped it onto the table and slid it in Harry's direction. Ron moved closer for a better view and both looked in horror at the images of victims and profiles of who they assumed was just one man. The first victims Harry couldn't name, but once he got closer to the end he recognized the victims of the case he was currently solving. He closed the file slowly."I knew about the victims, but not this file. I found this in my room when I left the building after the fire. I came straight here. The first victims, the family," he whispered, pulling out the image. He pointed to the little girl. "That's Dannie. She was only eight when he killed her, his own sister."
"This is the same boy?" Ron asked, shocked.
Nodding, Teddy put the image back. "And he didn't stop. He hurt a lot of people, wanting to get to me and David. Now David is dead, because he came back to England before I told him to. He was supposed to think I was David, so I could get him here before he could hurt us or anyone else. But David came back. He kept calling, said he had something important to tell me and now I'll never know, because he got to David first. My friend is dead, Harry. He was my best friend."
"And he knew you were alive. All this time I've looked after him and mentored him and been his partner, he knew and he never told me," Harry muttered. He didn't know whether he was angry or devastated. Why had David never told him?
"Because I made him promise he wouldn't," Teddy answered his unspoken question. "He kept my promise, only because I promised I'd tell you myself as soon as this was over. He hated not telling you. He wanted you to know everything, but in the beginning the less who knew the better."
"And now?" Harry prompted. "How many know now?"
"Just me and David. That's what's confusing about getting this file," he replied. "It's David's handwriting, so maybe he gave it to someone and told them to give it to me, not telling them what it was. That has to be it, he was already d-gone when I got it. He was the only other person who knew any of this." Teddy pointed to the file.
"And now we need to," Harry said, Ron nodding in agreement. "We need a name, Ted. We need his name."
Teddy kept his gaze on the file, remembering the names of every person he had ever hurt. And now the fire at the old building he'd picked as a child. Just the thought of his family going through that again, that he'd almost hurt James and Albus and Lily. He had to stop him and he would, even if he had to kill him. He'd do that himself if he had to and he'd do it willingly. Finally, he answered.
"Ross. Simon Ross."
A/N: I can't beieve it's been so long since i lady updated this. But sorting out Teddy's reasons and getting myself to write it down was a lot harder than I thought. Apologies for the wait if anyone is still reading this. :)
This is not beta'd yet. Let me know what you think. :)