Chapter 1 : Death is a Scar
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Harry hadn’t eaten properly in days. He just did not feel hungry and doubted he ever would again.
He went down the Burrow’s staircase to get a glass of water from the kitchen, and as he passed Ginny’s room he heard her crying.
George had left for a walk and had not come back for seven hours.
Mrs Weasley broke everything she touched, she was trembling that badly.
Mr Weasley hadn’t spoken a word since it happened.
Ron just sat in his room, staring unblinkingly at a photograph of himself and Fred playing in the garden many years ago.
Harry had no idea where he was. He felt as if his whole world had been turned on its head. Everything was a mess, a great big mess, and right now Harry was caught in the middle of it all, rolling on and on to Merlin knows where. His head throbbed constantly, but that was nothing compared to the pain in his heart. All his insides were still screaming out with grief at the loss of so many good friends. He couldn’t stand it.
There were so many funerals, so many things Harry had to attend.
There was a constant, faceless mourning-mass and all wanted to meet him, see him, and thank him.
Harry just wanted peace, he wanted to get away. He needed time, time to address what happened, and put it behind him.
But there were so many funerals.
Fred’s had been the worst. Ron cried. Ginny trembled. George looked so pale he might have been a ghost. Mrs Weasley couldn’t stand, and had to be supported by Mr Weasley, whose grief, it appeared, was well beyond the stage of tears.
Harry couldn’t bare it.
He still felt responsible, still felt that if he had only gone to Voldemort earlier, then Fred would not have died and the Weasleys would have been spared this horrible ordeal.
The Daily Prophet would not stop stalking him. Not an hour went by where Harry didn’t see some reporter trying to take photographs of him or demanding that he give an interview or a spell-by-spell account of his duel with the Dark Lord. Harry wished they would get lost. He didn’t want to deal with them right now, and their presence and persistence made everything else seem all the worse.
Wherever he went, he had hundreds of strangers coming up to him, wanting to shake his hand or give him their thanks. While Harry understood their gratitude, he wished they would simply leave him be. He needed some peace and quiet, he needed time alone to think, to come to terms with all that had happened to him.
None of them discussed death much. They all had too much experience with it and they could not bring themselves to bring it up again. George appeared to be only the merest apparition of his former self. The jokes, pranks and laughter that Harry relied on from the twins had vanished and he did not know if it could ever return.
Some nights, Ginny would sit beside him on the couch in the Burrow’s sitting room. They wouldn’t speak, she would just rest her head on his shoulder and he would take her hand in his. It was amazing how grief robbed you of the ability to do normal things, like smile or laugh or speak.
He had heard so many eulogies and so many speeches. Soon, all words seemed to wash over him, he heard them, but his brain didn’t register their meaning. Words just failed at times like this. There were no words to describe the pain, the horror and the guilt he felt every second of every day since the battle ended.
Harry tried to place himself inside a little bubble, a bubble that the terrible outside world could not penetrate. But it always did. There was always a throng of black-clad mourners, queuing silently to shake his hand one by one.
But even when he was alone he didn’t feel any better. He found that he was unconsciously wringing his hands with anxiety as he thought about the battle, as he remembered the screams, the explosions and the terrible, cruel laughter of Death Eaters. Several times his memories of dead faces would overwhelm him and he would hold his head in his hands and breath very deeply, trying to settle himself.
But he was never settled for long. He wore death like the lightning scar on his forehead. Death dominated him. First it took his parents, then every other parent-figure he had come to love: his Godfather, his headmaster and Remus.
Yes, he knew death all too well. He knew it before he could walk, before he could talk, and before he was old enough to remember his parents’ faces.
He did not know what he would feel at Remus’s and Tonks’s funeral the next day. Fred’s had been so hard and Harry was expecting this one to be just as bad. Death was, after all, so cruel.
Then a thought pierced Harry’s heart so quickly and so terribly, that for a moment he thought he had been cursed.
Teddy, my Godson Teddy, will wear death like a scar too.
Then Harry remembered the photo, the photo Remus had in his beast pocket the night he died. He remembered the tiny baby, with the brilliantly brown eyes, turquoise hair and fat fists that tried to bat the camera. Now the pain of death pressed down upon Teddy too, just as it did upon Harry.
He knocked on the wooden door to the small house. Ron, Hermione and Ginny had all offered to come with him, but he refused. This time, the first time, he wanted to go alone.
The door creaked open, and Andromeda Tonks stood in the hallway. Her eyes were blood-shot and dark circles hung under them, making her look ill.
“Hello Harry,” she said, her voice frail and hoarse.
“Hi Mrs Tonks,” Harry replied, solemnly.
“I’ve been expecting you to drop by for some time,” she said, standing aside to let him enter. Very little had changed in the year that had passed since Harry and Hagrid crash landed here on Sirius’s old motorbike.
Harry and Andromeda looked at each other in the hallway. Harry wanted to say something, something helpful, but there was nothing in his head, nothing that he could say that could express his grief, that could convey how sorry he felt for the hurt and pain she was feeling right now.
“I’m sorry, about Tonks, I mean – Nymphadora, I’m sorry about Nymphadora.” He tried to fill his voice with all the grief he felt, but nevertheless, the words sounded hollow.
‘I’m sorry’ had become a platitude, used so often that the words had been robbed of all meaning, becoming nothing more than a dull utterance, the thing you were told to say on such occasions.
Andromeda’s lip trembled and she began to blink furiously, batting back the tears that were surging forward upon the mention of her daughter’s name.
“Is – is Teddy around?” Harry knew it was a stupid question, of course Teddy was around. He was a baby. He wouldn’t be anywhere else but here, with his grandmother. Despite this, he asked the question anyway, just for something to say, something that would end the grieving silence that was dangerously close to erupting into tears.
Andromeda gestured to Harry to follow her, because she did not trust herself to speak. She led him into the sitting room, and lying on a pale-blue blanket in the middle of the floor, was his Godson.
Harry had never seen a baby up close before, if you didn’t count seeing them in photographs or on television. Teddy was tiny, smaller than he had appeared in Remus’s picture. His turquoise hair was silky and soft, completely new. His little hands were smaller than Harry thought hands ever could be. His eyes were so big, big and round and clear. They seemed to house the whole world, even if they had never seen the outside of the house they were all standing in.
“Would you like to hold him?” Andromeda asked, her voice returning to her.
“Em....” Harry began. The truth was that yes, he did want to hold Teddy, but in honesty, he was afraid to. He had never held a baby before, and Teddy was so delicate, what if he dropped him?
Andromeda smiled, but it faded off her face as quickly as it had appeared. “Sit down,” she said, pointing to the armchair. “And I’ll tell you what to do.”
Harry sat, feeling nervous. Andromeda picked Teddy up off the floor, hoisting him up under the arms, before holding him against her chest.
“Hold your arms out,” she said, her voice still sounding feeble.
Harry did as instructed. Andromeda placed Teddy in Harry’s arms. He was so light, hardly weighing anything at all.
“Make sure you support his head,” instructed Andromeda.
Harry obliged, shifting Teddy’s head into the crook of his arm. Teddy squirmed, but did not cry. Harry didn’t allow himself to move a muscle, afraid that if he did, he would upset Teddy.
“That’s a good sign,” Andromeda said.
“What is?” asked Harry.
“That he’s not crying, he must like you,” Andromeda replied.
“He hardly knows me.”
“That doesn’t matter.”
Harry stared down at Teddy for a moment. He was kicking his little legs and touching the material of Harry’s T-shirt with his tiny hands.
Andromeda sighed, and collapsed into the couch. She leaned forward and covered her mouth and nose with her hands. She looked tired, so very tired.
“I’ll – I’ll look after him, for a bit,” Harry said quietly, “if – if you want to – lie down – or – or have a cup of tea.”
She looked at the door and then at Harry, biting her lip. She didn’t trust him to be alone with Teddy.
“I’ll be careful,” Harry said reassuringly, “and I’ll shout if I need you. It’ll be alright.”
Andromeda stood up, “I’ll leave the door open, so I can hear you if you call. I’ll just be in the kitchen.”
Harry nodded gently, still afraid that if he moved, he might disturb Teddy. Andromeda left and Harry stared down at the little child in his arms. Teddy was drinking Harry in, his large, innocent eyes feasting on this new face in front of him.
“Hi Teddy,” Harry said softly, “I’m Harry, your Godfather.”
Teddy continued to stare at Harry, his eyes x-raying him. They were brown, the same colour and shape as his father’s. Harry held Teddy’s gaze, so Lily’s green eyes would meet Remus’s brown ones. Teddy had Remus’s eyes, just like he, Harry, had Lily’s. He and Teddy had both started life the same way: orphaned by Voldemort. But Teddy would have a different hand than Harry did, Harry was determined of that. Teddy would not be tormented while growing up in a family that not only didn’t love him, but treated him with cruelty and indifference. No, Teddy’s life would be different, it would be better, much, much better.
And still Teddy’s eyes absorbed Harry’s face, trying to memorise it, so as to make it familiar and safe. Harry watched Teddy. He wondered if Teddy knew, if he somehow sensed that his parents were gone, that he knew that he would never to look upon their faces again, so he must learn to recognise new faces in their absence.
“Do you miss them, Ted?” Harry asked, his voice breaking slightly.
Teddy did not move, he just watched Harry, his eyes wide.
“You’ll always miss them,” Harry said. “Even though you won’t remember them, you’ll always miss them. There will be this great, big empty space, where they used to be, and you’ll always have that.”
Teddy didn’t blink. He did not move. He stayed in Harry’s arms, as still as a corpse.
“It’s not fair, is it Ted?” Harry asked. “It’s not fair that you were robbed of them, before you will even remember their faces, before you will even have one single memory of them to look back on.”
Teddy blinked and his little hand moved. He spread his fingers out, like and fan, and he held them up, as though reaching for Harry, forming a connection with him.
“I’ll look after you Ted,” Harry said. “And I’ll tell you all I know about them too, I’ll tell you everything, so even though you won’t remember them, you’ll know them.”
Teddy closed his eyes, and scrunched up his face. He was about to cry, Harry knew it. But he didn’t. He simply opened his eyes and suddenly his hair was jet-black, just like Harry’s. A warm feeling rose inside Harry, and for one glorious moment, he forgot everything, forgot about guilt and lost friends. For one shining instant, Teddy had wiped Harry’s scar of death away.
“You’re a clever little lad, you know that?” Harry said, smiling for the first time since Merlin knows when.