Teddy Remus Lupin sat beneath a beech tree in the backyard garden of his grandmother’s house, shaded from the hot, bright sun shining in the pale blue sky. He sat with his back against the tree’s trunk, and propped up in front of him with his legs was a book on werewolves. A warm breeze blew through as he turned a page, his brow furrowed in concentration. Vaguely he heard the sound of the back door opening.
“Teddy!” called the voice of his grandmother, Andromeda Tonks.
Ted raised his eyes from his book at the sound of his name but did not look around the tree. “Yeah?” he called back.
“You have a visitor,” Andromeda announced.
Now Ted poked his head around the tree. Andromeda stood holding the back door open for Ted’s godfather, Harry Potter. He felt a delighted squirm at this unexpected visit. “Wotcher, Harry!” he called, grinning.
“Alright, Ted?” said Harry, also grinning as he strode across the lawn and sat down beside Ted beneath the tree. “What’re you reading?”
Ted showed him the cover of his book, keeping his spot inside marked with his thumb. The cover read: Anatomy of a Beast: Werewolves and the Lives They Lead.
Harry frowned. “You sure like reading about werewolves, don’t you?”
“Nan rather I didn’t,” said Ted, opening back to his spot. As he continued speaking to Harry he returned his eyes to the text. “She lets me keep the books, but if she sees me reading one she gets all huffy and irritated.” He began idly leafing through the pages. “If it bothers her so much, I don’t understand why she doesn’t just...Vanish them, or something.”
“She has her reasons,” Harry said quietly. There was a pause, and then Harry cleared his throat and said, “Well, tomorrow’s the big seventeen then, eh?”
“Yep,” said Ted, not looking up from his book. His smile broadened, because Harry’s mention of his birthday tomorrow meant that the next thing out of Harry’s mouth was going to be about what he wanted. In his opinion Harry was the best godfather a kid could ask for, because even though they weren’t related by blood, and Harry had kids of his own with Ginny, Harry had always treated Ted like a mixture of brother and son. So it was only natural that Ted regarded Harry as a mixture of brother and father.
And, as predicted, Harry’s next words were: “Any idea what you might like to get from your old godfather, this year?”
“I’ve been thinking,” said Ted.
“I figured,” Harry chuckled.
Ted glanced over at him and saw he was sitting cross-legged, picking at the grass. He looked back at his book and continued leafing through it. “I’ve been thinking really seriously about it, actually. I mean this birthday’s a big deal, ‘cause it’s the day I come of age.”
“Mm-hm,” said Harry.
“In fact, I’ve been thinking about it so seriously, that what I really want is something I think that only you could give me.”
“And what might that be?”
“Something you can’t put in a box.”
“Ah,” said Harry, suddenly sounding slightly wary. “Ha, well, er…at least that saves on wrapping paper,” he quipped with a rather nervous chuckle. “We ran out last year when I was wrapping up your Firebolt 3000.”
Ted dog-eared the corner of the page he’d been reading before Harry had arrived, and closed the book with conviction. He turned around to face Harry, sitting up on his knees. “Harry, all I want this year from you is…just some answers.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. Apparently he’d been expecting this, but didn’t like hearing it. He sighed and said, “Answers, huh?”
“Not answers about…your father?” Harry asked with a note of hopeful anxiety.
This was not a topic that hadn’t arisen between them before, and Ted knew that of all things he could ask Harry for his birthday this year, this was the last thing Harry wanted him asking him for.
“Actually, yes,” he said. “Answers about my father are exactly what I want.”
Harry looked away from him and heaved a defeated sigh, absently tearing up a blade of grass he had pinched in his fingers. Ted watched him patiently, as he gazed ahead at the reflective surface of the nearby garden pond. But even after a couple of minutes, he remained silent, and Ted’s patience wore thin. “Harry, you knew him!" he exclaimed.
“Not well enough to satisfy your curiosity,” said Harry.
“He was best friends with your dad,” Ted argued, "and your godfather.”
“My father died when I was only a year old,” said Harry, and Ted could discern the frustration rising in his tone. “I don’t remember him at all at that age, so I’ve never been able to talk to him about any of his old schoolmates. And as for Sirius, believe it or not, whenever I talked to him about them, I was a bit keener on asking about my own father. You know? I mean your dad was a really good friend of mine—I was crushed when he and your mum died—but...like with Sirius, when I talked with him, it was usually about my father, not—”
“I know you know some things though,” Ted asserted, trying to keep his own temper in check. “You must know at least a little bit about his childhood and stuff. My mum I know plenty about from Nan, like her childhood, and her days at Hogwarts. But…well, she won’t even talk to me about how she met my dad—” His anger burst unexpectedly like a bubble, and he tossed his book aside. “She won’t talk about my dad at all!” he shouted, rising to his feet and beginning to pace back and forth before Harry. “You’re the only one who does, and all you’ve ever told me is that he was a good friend of yours, that ever since he first started Hogwarts he was best friends with your dad, and Sirius, and that he and my mum died fighting Voldemort’s Death Eaters!” He was trembling all over now, and he kept pacing to let off some more steam.
During this whole monologue, Harry had been watching and listening to him intently. When he said nothing, Ted stopped pacing and looked over at him. He saw the anger gone from his face, replaced by an expression soft with compassion, even a degree of empathy. Harry understood him. As a small boy, when Ted first began learning about his parents, Harry had told him that he too had lost his own when he was just an infant, too young to remember them at all; and that for ten years he’d lived with his mother’s Muggle sister and her husband and son, and that out of their perception that anything to do with the wizarding world was total rubbish they had never talked about his parents at all, had never even told him the truth about how his parents’ deaths were brought about. The Hogwarts gamekeeper, Rubeus Hagrid, had been the one to reveal the truth to him, and he’d been none too happy with his aunt and uncle for having lied to him for an entire decade of his life. Bearing this in mind, a pang of guilt settled into Ted's chest like a dull blow.
“Sorry, Harry,” he mumbled, sitting down beside him again beneath the tree. He hugged his knees to his chest as he let himself finish calming down.
“Don’t be,” said Harry, putting his arm around Ted’s shoulders. “You’ve every right to feel this way.”
“I shouldn’t take it out on you, though.”
“I don’t mind,” said Harry. Ted looked over and saw that he was grinning. “Don’t hold it in, you know? Let it all out.”
The corner of Ted’s mouth twitched tentatively into a half-smile.
“Now, about your dad,” said Harry, “I do know a teensy bit about his childhood. I talked to him once about it at a Christmas party at the Burrow.”
“Well, what did you talk about?” Ted asked hopefully.
Harry hesitated. “I can’t tell you.”
“Ted, what we talked about in that particular conversation is something your grandmother absolutely forbids me to talk to you about!”
“In fact, even if it were something else, she still wouldn’t want me telling you a thing.”
“Then why not just forget her stupid rule and tell me anyway?”
“But I promised her that I wouldn’t,” said Harry earnestly. “I’ll admit I didn’t agree with her when she asked me to promise her, if that’s any consolation, and I still don’t agree with it. However, she was extremely adamant—I mean it was right after your parents had died, and after losing your grandfather just a few months before, the shock of losing her daughter left her completely devastated. She was in tears by the time I finally agreed to make the promise. It was awful.”
“Well, why does she want to hide things from me?” Ted asked, his anger inside him returning at a simmer.
“The same reason my aunt and uncle hid things from me: because of the nature of the truth itself," Harry said sagely.
Ted sighed and buried his face in his knees. Then he pulled away from Harry’s arm, grabbed his book from where it lay quiet on the ground, and rose to his feet. He brushed the grass off his legs and backside. “Well…thanks anyway,” he mumbled. He looked over at Harry, who still sat on the ground, watching him with his bright green eyes set behind his dark round glasses. Ted’s own eyes briefly glanced at the scar shaped like a lightning-bolt etched on his godfather’s forehead, slightly concealed by the bangs of his ruffled, jet-black hair, before he returned his attention to his eyes again. “See you tomorrow, then?” he asked.
Harry smiled. “I’ll be here.”
Ted smiled too, then turned away and walked back into his grandmother’s house, leaving Harry alone with his thoughts beneath the beech tree.
Ted went upstairs to his room and shut the door behind him. He tossed his book onto his desk beneath the window then stretched himself out on his bed and folded his hands beneath his head as he gazed up at the ceiling. He looked over at the photograph in the frame sitting on his bedside table: the photo was of his parents, Remus and Nymphadora Lupin. He reached over and plucked the picture from its perch. He held it up before him and watched his parents inside it. They were beaming at him with their arms around each other. At the moment, Ted’s mother had her back facing him as his father held her, but she faced him with her head turned to look at him over her shoulder. Happiness radiated from her smile like a solar fire.
Sometimes Nymphadora would spin around and change her appearance, often in some wacky way that both Ted, and Remus beside her in the picture, seemed to find highly amusing. He imagined that she must have done this all the time to him as a baby when she’d been alive, and if she hadn’t died, she probably would have entertained him like this for years to come, maybe even when he’d gotten to the age where he’d find it too embarrassing to let her give him a kiss goodbye in public.
Other times Remus would spin Nymphadora around and then dip her in a modest and brief routine, both of them laughing as they gazed into each other’s eyes for a moment before looking back out at their son. He hardly ever saw them anything but happy, so it often brightened his spirits to watch them for a while whenever his spirits needed brightening. However, there were odd moments where he’d swear Nymphadora was wiping at a telltale tear while looking out of the frame as Remus gazed out of it with nostalgic eyes, his wife's hair pressed against his cheek. There were also a few occasions where he’d seen his mother beaming out at him, while his father looked down at her wistfully—or it might be the other way around, where Remus beamed out of the frame while Nymphadora looked up at him wistfully.
Ted traced the lines of Remus’ face with his forefinger. He’d always wondered why his father looked so much older than he actually was. Ted resembled his father highly—when he wasn’t changing his appearance, having inherited the power of the Metamorphmagus from his Metamorphmagus mother. But otherwise, aside from his raven-black hair, he looked just like his father—pale with brown eyes, lanky in his build, yet all without the signs of premature aging that his father inexplicably possessed—and he did also have his mother’s heart-shaped face.
He remembered reading something in a book on nocturnal beasts and monsters that people who are werewolves tend to show signs of aging much earlier in life than people who aren’t. This had given him the idea that maybe his father had been a werewolf himself. However, when he’d inquired of Andromeda about his theory—this was back when he was much younger and had yet to realize that she would never say anything to him about his father if she could help it—she had immediately snapped, “No! Of course not! I’d have died before letting your mother marry some vile and vicious werewolf!” after which she’d ended with a shudder. Since then he’d been convinced that Remus Lupin had never been a werewolf.
Yet now that he thought of it, he began to wonder if maybe his grandmother had lied to him. In his reading, Ted had learned that wizarding society general considered werewolves as nothing but filthy, threatening vermin: not only were they dangerous at full moon, but it was a common conception that werewolves were just as fierce and nasty in their human state in between the full moon, that even receiving a bite from them when they were human could pass on their curse, not just when they bit in their wolf form. Ted came to believe that this conception was actually a misconception, because he knew that Ron Weasley’s brother Bill had been attacked by a werewolf named Fenrir Greyback, who at the time of said attack had not been in his werewolf state, and Bill, of course, was not a werewolf. He maybe was a little lupine in his scarred features, and preferred raw meat, which he tore at rather aggressively with his teeth when he ate it, but otherwise, he never became a fully fledged monster every full moon.
Then thinking of Bill Weasley briefly turned Ted’s thoughts to Bill’s daughter, Victoire, whose great-grandmother had been a veela, and his heart glowed and he smiled slowly and broadly as he pictured her in his mind, with her Weasley red hair made fiery, seductive—even slightly silvery—by the veela blood in her.
He shook his head and examined his father’s beaming face and traced the lines of it again. Then another thought crossed his mind about the scars that ran across his father’s visage. Where had they come from? Some battle fighting the evil forces of the terrible Lord Voldemort? It wasn’t impossible.
Ted heard Andromeda beckon him from below. Heaving a sigh, he set his parents’ picture back on his bedside table, and rose from the bed to join his grandmother downstairs for dinner.
The first thing Ted did on the morning of his seventeenth birthday after he’d gotten dressed was Apparate downstairs to breakfast (he'd passed the test right before school let out). As he emerged from the squeezing darkness, he came face to face with his grandmother in the kitchen, who shrieked at the sight of him appearing out of nowhere without warning.
“Oh, Ted!” she growled. “Could’ve given me a heart attack! I’m not as young as I used to be, you know. I just knew you were going to pull something like that today! Ugh! What am I going to do with you?” Waving her arms about, she turned from him to finish with making breakfast.
Ted grinned impishly after her. Although he was generally well-behaved, it was obvious before he’d even started at Hogwarts that he possessed a mischievous streak. It drove Andromeda up the wall, and she often told him in an exasperated tone that he got it from his mother. And he believed her, because he knew for a fact that Nymphadora had rather lacked the ability to constantly behave herself. And so he then decided—yearning for some means to figure out his father on his own, since no one would give him any answers—that Remus Lupin had been just the opposite: well-behaved and rule-abiding—probably prefect and Head Boy at school.
Now that he thought about it, however, as he looked to the small, beautifully wrapped birthday parcel from his grandmother sitting on the kitchen table beside his empty plate, he tended to drive her up the wall even when he wasn’t getting into mischief. It all had to be because for some inexplicable reason, Andromeda had highly disapproved of Remus. The evidence supported it: she never talked about him, she sometimes got annoyed by him at odd moments when he hadn’t even been doing anything wrong at the time, and bringing up the subject irritated her beyond anything else. And he had learned just yesterday that she'd even gone so far as to make Harry swear not to tell him anything about Remus either. It was times like these that Ted experienced that tug at his heart, wishing desperately that his parents hadn’t died.
He sat down at the table as Andromeda served breakfast, and while they ate he opened his present from her: it was a watch—the watch that wizards receive as a tradition when they come of age—and this watch had six moons instead of hands. Each moon sported a different phase in the moon’s monthly cycle, and they all glowed brilliantly against the misty night sky background as if each of them were the real moon. It wasn't new, but it only had to be about one generation old. He looked up at Andromeda and said, “Thank you,” in a voice hushed with the awe with which he regarded the timepiece.
His grandmother said nothing for a long moment. She was staring at him very strangely, as if she was deciding whether or not to tell him something that she’d give anything not to, something perhaps that would taste vile on her tongue as she said it. But Ted waited. When at last she spoke, she sighed, lowered her eyes to her plate as she took another bite of her crumpet, and said, “That watch belonged to your father.”
At these words, Ted’s view of the watch shifted at once, and now he regarded it as something like a sacred ancient relic. He waited to see if his grandmother would expand further on what she’d said, but she did not. She finished her food, and then sent her empty plate to the sink, where she had it magically cleaned with another flick of her wand. Ted sighed and set the watch on the table beside his own empty plate. He pointed at it with his own wand—willow and unicorn hair, ten inches—and sent it magically up to his room on his bedside table beside the picture of his parents.
Ted spent most of the day in the den upstairs, leafing through the family albums. His mother waved merrily at him from different ages across her life: he saw her as a fussing infant, her hair changing color every five minutes; he saw her on Halloween as a toddler, relishing in transforming her face in frightening ways at the camera; he saw her riding a toy broomstick, and then later, he saw her riding a real one—a Comet Two Sixty; he saw her in a picture on her seventh Christmas. He saw her with any number of boyfriends whose pictures Andromeda had managed to get—in all of them she wore a pained expression of exasperated embarrassment—but not one of these pictures, he was sure, contained a boyfriend that was his father. Although that was probably to be expected anyway: from the looks of it, Nymphadora had still been in school when all these boyfriend pictures were taken, and another thing Harry had told him was that Remus had been about thirteen years older than his mother, which meant that by the time Nymphadora had started at Hogwarts, Remus had already been and gone.
He came to a picture of her at her seventh Christmas. She was standing with her parents, making her face transform into comical ones while Andromeda kept scolding her, and Ted Tonks—for whom Teddy had been named—laughed along with Sirius [not only Harry’s late godfather, but Nymphadora’s second cousin on Andromeda’s side, which mind-bogglingly enough meant that Ted’s godfather’s godfather was also Ted’s third cousin (even if he had died almost two years before Ted was even born)]. But the odd thing about the picture was that the left edge of it showed evidence of having been severed—by means of tearing—from the rest of the picture. In fact, Ted noticed that Sirius, in between laughing at his little cousin’s transformations, looked in the direction of the tear—which ran vertically beside him like a wall—and wore a look that was both forlorn and resentful.
Ted pulled the picture out from its pocket and turned it over. On the back he saw it was labeled simply: 25 December 1980 – X-mas at Godric’s Hollow. “I wonder…” Ted said to himself, letting the sentence hang, wondering what it was that he was wondering. His thoughts were interrupted by Andromeda’s voice calling for him from downstairs: “Teddy! The Potters are here!”
“Coming, Nan!” he shouted back. He stowed the picture back in the album and replaced it on the shelf before Apparating downstairs to the living room. His entrance was greeted by enthusiastic clapping. Blinking, Ted saw that his fans were none other than little Lily and Albus Potter.
“Oh come on,” said their older brother, James, “he’s just Apparating. We’ve seen Mum and Dad do it loads of times.”
“Yeah, but now Teddy’s doing it too!” Lily squealed.
“What’s it like?” Albus asked, wide-eyed.
“Well, it’s not very comfortable,” Ted admitted, sitting down in a chair near the fireplace, pressing the palms of his hands together between his knees. “I don’t mind it, really. It hurts some, but it’s over pretty quick. But your dad, if given the choice between Apparition and a broomstick—”
“He’d pick the broomstick, thank you very much,” said Harry.
Ted, Albus, Lily, and James all looked round to see Harry leaning against the doorjamb with his arms folded.
“Happy seventeenth, Ted,” he said, grinning.
“Cheers, Harry,” said Ted with a grin of his own.
They sat down to dinner in the kitchen, all seven of them—Ted, Harry, Ginny, James, Albus, Lily, and Andromeda. Afterward they sang Happy Birthday, and then served the cake, during which Lily shoved present after present into Ted’s lap. After he’d opened the ones from Ginny (a tin of her scrumptious home-made peanut brittle), James (a basket full of Chocolate Frogs—Ted was an immense chocolate lover), Albus (a pair of sunglasses with lenses charmed so that the wearer could change the color of them at will), and Lily (a Golden Snitch keychain), Harry passed him the one from him: a big book about defense against the dark arts—Ted’s favorite and best subject at school.
“Thanks, Harry,” said Ted with sincere gratitude. Ted loved books in general, so getting one about his favorite subject was of even greater appeal to him. As Andromeda and Ginny began clearing up the table, Ted was already eagerly leafing through it. He came to learn that this book was more than just what you’d find in the average Hogwarts textbook—there were diagrams and in-depth chapters on the different subject areas of the dark arts and how to defend oneself against them, and the pictures, well…Ted quickly learned that the pictures were all of the defense against the dark arts in action, very accurate, and just a tad graphic, going so far as to show the dark arts in moments of triumph. He stared for a moment at a picture of a werewolf attacking a bunch of medieval villagers, his lips drenched in dripping blood, his feral eyes gleaming with untamable hunger….
Ted felt Harry come to stand behind his chair and peer over his shoulder.
“I know it’s a bit much,” said Harry. “I mean it could give a lot of people nightmares, but at least it’s a book about defending oneself against the dark arts.”
“As opposed to using the dark arts?” said Ted, looking round up over his shoulder at Harry and quirking an eyebrow.
“Exactly,” said Harry. He considered Ted fondly for a moment, then changed the subject, his face turning suddenly serious. “Listen, I need to have a word with you in private. Not here.”
“My room,” Ted suggested. He pointed at all of his presents with his wand and sent them up to his bedroom, before he led Harry upstairs to it on foot. After he switched on the light and closed the door behind them, he turned to see that his presents all sat intact in a pile on his bed, and Harry meanwhile was looking at the picture of parents on the bedside table. He was tilting the frame back slightly with one hand, so he could see it without really picking it up. He had his other hand thrust in his trouser pocket. Ted watched him for a moment, wondering what could possibly be running through his godfather’s mind right now.
After a minute Harry righted the picture and as he took his hand away, he noticed Ted’s father’s watch ticking away beside it. “This your watch, then?” he said, turning at last to look at Ted.
“Yep,” said Ted. “Nan gave it to me this morning at breakfast.” He crossed over to Harry, slid his presents over a little to make room, and sat down on the edge of his bed. “She told me it was my dad’s.”
Harry tore his eyes away from the watch, his eyes widening in surprise. “Really?” he said. “This is your dad’s watch?”
“According to Nan it is.”
Harry looked down at the watch again and chuckled. “How fitting,” he muttered to himself as he faintly ran his finger over the revolving moons in the watch face.
“What’s fitting?” Ted asked.
Harry shook his head, seeming to return from some alternate reality. “Nothing,” he said. “Never mind. Listen,” he went on, taking his hand away from the watch and walking around to sit on the bed beside his godson, “I have something else for you, but I don’t want your grandmother knowing anything about it.”
Ted’s stomach squirmed. Could it be…?
“You won’t tell her, will you?” Harry asked.
“May my tongue be hexed into getting tied up in knots if I do,” said Ted, grinning that impish grin of his.
“Right,” Harry laughed. “I knew I could count on you.” He reached into his pocket, and produced a gold Gobstone. He set it down in the middle of the floor before them. He took out his wand and pointed it at the Gobstone, glimmering in the light, and muttered an incantation that transfigured the Gobstone into a great big cardboard box sealed with Packing Spellotape.
On top Ted saw it had been labeled in black ink: ANSWERS. He looked at his godfather, not daring to breathe. Finally he managed to stammer, “Is this—What’s—?”
“Yesterday, shortly after I left here,” Harry explained, stowing away his wand, “I had given what you said a lot of thought, and well…you know me: I live for the risk of getting in trouble. Anyway, so I did a little digging, and managed to find out the address of your father’s house. It hadn’t been lived in for ages, not since your parents lived in it. And before it was your dad’s parents’ house, your dad grew up in it as a boy, so…it was a goldmine, really. I went through everything, and I didn’t bring it all here—” He gave the box a light tap with his toe “—otherwise I might as well have dragged the whole house here to you, but…I brought the…important stuff. And, hey...I was able to put it in a box after all, wasn't I?" he added with an I'm-oh-so-clever-aren't-I? laugh.
Ted was struck almost dumb. “Harry, I—This is—I mean—”
“You’re welcome, kiddo,” said Harry with a smile. He ruffled Ted’s hair as he rose to his feet and left the room.