Harry knocked on the door of Andromeda’s house. He had been looking forward to seeing Teddy after what had been a truly gruelling week. There had been three rather nasty murders that Harry was investigating, that, and James had chosen this week not to sleep a wink, but to simply cry and keep his parents up all night. But as tired and exasperated as he was, Harry was looking forward to seeing Teddy, because Ginny had gotten them both two tickets to the final Quidditch League match of the season, between TheHolyhead Harpies and TheKenmare Kestrels. If the Harpies won, they would win the league, but if they lost, the title would go to the Kestrels. Matches didn’t get any better than that and, as a result, the tickets were like gold-dust. Harry couldn’t wait to see the excited look on his Godson’s face when he told him that they would be going to the match together.
A quiet minute or two passed, where Harry stood on the door-step, lost in his excitement about the match. Finally, the door opened to reveal Andromeda standing in the hallway. She was completely alone.
“Hi Andromeda ... where’s Teddy?” Harry asked, lowering his eyebrows in confusion. He was so used to being assaulted by his turquoise-haired Godson every time he set foot in this house, that the absence of such an event confused and slightly worried him.
“Upstairs,” Andromeda said, pointing at the ceiling. She seemed a little exasperated.
“Did you tell him I was coming?” Harry asked, without thinking. He had intended to speak politely to Andromeda, as he always did, but the words escaped his mouth in an accusatory tone. He was beginning to feel anxious at Teddy’s notable absence.
“Yes,” Andromeda replied simply.
“Is he sick or something?” Harry asked, staring up the stairs at Teddy’s bedroom door, expecting to see his Godson burst out of it and run (or perhaps fall) down the stairs to greet him.
“No, no, he’s alright,” Andromeda replied, her voice sounding strangely false. There was something foreboding about her tone, as though she knew something was wrong, but wasn’t prepared to tell Harry what is was.
Harry gave Andromeda a quizzical look, which she did not respond to, before he began to walk slowly up the stairs.
“Ted?” he called, a little tentatively.
There was no reply.
“Ted, are you alright?” Harry said, when he reached the top of the stairs.
Again, he was met by silence. His heart began to beat faster. He could feel the blood pounding in his ears.
The door of Teddy’s room stood a jar. Harry pushed it open with his hand. “Ted?” he called again, as he stepped inside.
The room was unrecognisable. Teddy’s wolf posters and picture-clippings had been torn from the walls. They lay in crumpled heaps on the floor. All his wolf-toys stood piled up in the bin in the corner of the room. Some were broken. He could see their detached limbs in the mass of no-longer-wanted toys. This made no sense to Harry. Teddy loved his wolves more than anything.
Finally, his eyes found his eight-year-old Godson, who was sitting with this back resting against the side of his bed. He was hugging his knees. His gaze fixed on shards of paper in front of his feet. He looked beyond miserable, with his blood-shot eyes, tear-stained cheeks and dull-black hair. His teddy-wolf, that Harry had given him, lay on the floor at his side.
“Ted!” Harry half-shouted, full-on frightened now. He had never, in his life, seen Teddy act like this.
The boy didn’t respond, instead he pushed his face into his knees, as though trying to hide his tears from Harry.
Harry crossed the room in three strides, and sat down beside his Godson, resting his back against the side of the bed too. “What’s up Ted?” Harry asked gently.
Teddy did not reply.
“Come on Ted,” Harry said, while attempting to tickle his Godson, which usually proved to be an effective way to get a reaction out of him. Teddy slid along the wooden floor, out of Harry’s reach. He was not in the mood for games or tricks.
Harry was startled, but nevertheless, he managed a smile as he slid back beside Teddy. “See, I can slide too,” he said, still grinning, “so you can either spend the day avoiding being tickled or you can tell me what’s up, it’s up to you.”
Teddy kept his face hidden in his knees. Harry gave him a moment to consider the matter, before he attempted to tickle him again.
“Harry?” Teddy said quietly, just as Harry had raised his hand to start the tickle-attack.
“Yeah Ted?” Harry replied, glad they were finally making some progress.
Slowly, the boy raised his face out of his knees. He looked very upset. His eyes had lost that mischievous sparkle. They simply looked empty. Harry had never seen Teddy look like this before, and it worried him.
“Nana told me yesterday that my Dad was a werewolf, is that true?” Teddy asked, his voice very quiet.
Panic rose inside Harry and his heart began to thunder in his chest. He wished that Andromeda had forewarned him that she had let Teddy privy to this little piece of information, that way; he would have been able to prepare an answer.
“Yes, he was,” Harry replied, though he had no idea what to say after that.
Harry saw Teddy’s lip tremble. Suddenly, his face scrunched itself up as the tears welled in his eyes. He picked up Wolf, and threw him, rather violently, across the room. The teddy hit the wall, its glass eyes making a dull, clunking noise on contact, before the toy fell to the floor by the bin. Teddy buried his face in his knees again, his trousers soaking up his tears.
Harry was at a loss what to do.
“Why didn’t you tell me before?” Teddy asked, his voice breaking.
“Well, you were a bit young Ted, I was afraid you wouldn’t understand.”
“Afraid I wouldn’t understand that my Dad was a monster?!” Teddy replied, shouting with fury. The venom in his voice was unmistakable when he uttered the last word.
“He wasn’t a monster Ted,” Harry said seriously. “He was a great man,” he hesitated slightly, “a great man who just happened to have a – a bit of a – a problem – at the full moon.”
“HE WAS A WEREWOLF!” Teddy shouted hysterically.
“He was a werewolf, and a good man,” Harry corrected, firmly.
“I’ve read all about werewolves!” Teddy continued, pointing to a stack of books in the corner of his room, by the wolf-toy-filled bin. “They are vicious and bad! Their goal in life is to bite and infect everyone! They are monsters!”
“Where did you get these books?” Harry asked sternly, as he walked over to examine they items in question. There were three darkly coloured volumes; one was merely entitled Werewolves and had a picture of a shadowy demon with red eyes and gnarled teeth. The others were: Werewolves: A Study of Violence and Werewolves and the Danger they Pose to the Wizarding Community. Harry was overcome with a sudden urge to snatch up these books and throw them out the window, as if their very presence was tainting Teddy’s room as they spoke.
“They were in the attic,” Teddy replied. “There are loads of books up there.”
“What were you doing in the attic?” Harry said, not quite hiding the reproach in his voice.
“You shouldn’t be reading looks like this, Ted,” Harry began quickly. “You’re not old enough. You don’t understand.”
“I understand all the words!” Teddy retorted back. “I understand what they all mean.”
“No you don’t,” Harry replied, trying to stay calm. “There is a difference between understanding the meanings of words in a book and understanding the meaning of a book.”
“I see no difference,” Teddy said, glaring at Harry now.
“There is a very big difference. Not everything you read is true. Just because it’s written in a book, you can’t take it as pure fact. You’re too young to understand that, understand that you’re being manipulated by books like that while you read.”
“I understand fine! Werewolves are monsters! My dad was a monster!”
“Your Dad wasn’t a monster!” Harry retorted instantly. He was surprised to find that he had actually shouted those words, and angrily too. “He was a member of the Order of the Phoenix! He devoted his life to stopping monsters like Death Eaters and Voldemort! He even gavehis life doing that! He wasn’t anything but a good man!”
Harry had no idea where this rage was coming from. All he knew was that no one, no matter who they were, questioned the integrity of Remus Lupin. Harry had done so himself once, and he swore he would never do so again. Remus was a good man, end of story.
“I knew your Dad! He taught me Defence Against the Dark Arts!” Harry continued, still shouting. “DefenceAgainst the Dark Arts! He hated the Dark Arts, hated everything about them! He was no monster!”
Teddy’s face scrunched up and he hid his head in his knees again. He was crying. Each of his sobs hit Harry like a blow to the stomach. Harry had never shouted at him before and Teddy didn’t like it.
“Ah Ted,” Harry said gently, his whole demeanour softening. “I didn’t mean to shout at you. I’m sorry Ted, I didn’t mean it. It’s just, you don’t understand. Your Dad went through his whole life with everyone thinking he was a monster and I just – I just get so angry when people call him that, because he was anything but a monster.”
Teddy sniffed and raised his head again. Half-dried tear blotches stained his face and eyelashes. “I don’t like it when you shout,” he said, sniffing again.
“I didn’t mean to shout Ted, honest I didn’t,” Harry said, feeling immensely guilty for his behaviour. “It’s just, well, I liked your Dad very much, and I don’t like anyone saying bad things about him.”
“But werewolves are bad!” Teddy insisted, “All the books say so!”
“Some werewolves are bad,” Harry corrected. “But books like those,” he gave the pile in the corner a disgusted look, “purposely want to trick you into thinking all werewolves are bad, when, in reality, werewolves are just like wizards. There are good and bad wizards, aren’t there?”
Teddy nodded, wiping his eyes on the sleeve of his robes. “Voldemort was bad and you’re good.”
“Er, yeah, exactly,” Harry said, though he thought that using himself as an example of good was pushing it. “What you have to understand Ted, is that calling all werewolves bad, just because werewolves like ... say, Fenrir Greyback are bad, is the same as calling all wizards bad because Voldemort was bad. Do you see what I am getting at?”
“I think so,” Teddy replied. “But – but the books don’t just talk about Greyback, they talk about other bad werewolves too, loads of them. Werewolves’ mission in life is to bite everyone and make everyone else like them. That’s what the books say.”
“Well the books are right about some, but not all, werewolves,” Harry explained, choosing and emphasising his words very carefully. “You see Ted, it is only ever the bad werewolves that everyone talks about, so that leads everyone to believe that all werewolves are bad, when they aren’t.”
“And my Dad?” Teddy asked.
“I knew your Dad Ted, and he was no monster, I swear to you, he was anything but,” Harry replied, seriously.
Teddy began to fiddle with his fingers, twisting them around and around each other. Harry gave him a moment to come to terms with what he had just heard and sort himself out a little bit.
“Did my Dad like being a werewolf?” he asked, after a minute or two.
“Of course he didn’t Ted,” Harry explained, running his fingers though his hair. “He absolutely hated what he was. He hated the wolf inside him. He hated it so much that he often cut himself off from other people, because he was so afraid that if he got close to someone, that something might happen, that at the full-moon he would hurt them, or worse bite them accidently.”
“Did he ever bite anyone?” Teddy asked, his face set and determined.
“No, he didn’t, but he came close once or twice,” Harry explained. He had decided not to lie anymore. He would not sugar-coat anything. He was going to tell Teddy the truth, lies would only cause more pain, if not now, then in the near future.
“He did?” Teddy said, his voice full of horror. “But you said he was good!”
“But Ted, once a wizard transforms into a werewolf at the full-moon, he no longer remembers who he is. The transformation is painful, very painful. And once transformed, a wizard is not able to think like a human anymore, he just has this animalistic impulse to hurt humans and he can’t help it, it is all part of the curse.”
“Is there a cure?” Teddy asked.
“No cure Ted, but there is a Wolfsbane Potion.”
“It’s a very complex and difficult potion to brew, but once done correctly, it allows the drinker to keep his human mind while he transforms into a werewolf, so he is no longer animalistic.”
“Did my Dad use that?”
“Yes,” Harry explained, “when he was older, but when he was small the potion didn’t exist.”
“Did you ever see him transform?” Teddy asked.
“I did, once,” Harry replied.
“What was it like?” Teddy asked, tentatively, as though he was not completely sure he wanted that question answered.
“Are you sure you want to know?” Harry asked.
“It was scary Ted, really scary,” Harry explained with a shudder. “As soon as the moonlight hit, your Dad’s body was bent all out of shape and he started screaming as all this hair grew all over him.”
“Did he try to bite you?”
“Yes,” Harry said gravely.
“But you said he liked you!” Teddy blurted out, completely horror-stricken.
“He did Ted, I know he cared about me, but he had forgotten to take his potion, so he forgot who he was. He couldn’t help it. It wasn’t his fault.”
“How did you get away?”
“Sirius saved me.”
“Then what happened?” Teddy asked, hoping that he would hear something that would redeem his father.
“Well, the next day, your Dad quit his teaching job and left Hogwarts.”
“Because he felt so ashamed that he had nearly bitten me, and Ron and Hermione, and because he was so afraid that it might happen again and that the next time he might hurt someone. And because one of the other teachers told everyone he was a werewolf, and he knew that parents wouldn’t want him teaching their kids.”
“Because they all thought that werewolves were bad. They judged your Dad before they even got to know him.”
“That wasn’t really fair,” Teddy pointed out.
“No, it wasn’t, but it was just the way things were.”
“Did you miss him? When he left?”
“’Course I did,” Harry said. “I went straight to his office and begged him not to go. I told him he was the best teacher I ever had and that I didn’t want him to leave.”
“But he did.”
“Yes, he did,” Harry said glumly. “He was a great man your Dad. He went out of his way to protect those he cared about, even if that meant hurting himself in the process. He left his job, to protect his students, even if that meant that he had to return to being poor and alone.”
“That sounds brave,” Teddy said.
“Well, he was a Gryffindor,” Harry replied smiling.
“Does this mean I’m a werewolf too?” Teddy asked, after a moment’s contemplation. He looked down at his chest, as though expecting to grow fur at that second.
“No,” Harry said half-laughing, “you’ve lived through about a hundred full moons and you’ve never transformed, have you now?”
“No, I haven’t,” said Teddy. “But – but does this mean that I’m half a werewolf?”
“Sort of, but not really, you’re a metamorphmagus, like your Mum.”
“So my Dad was a werewolf and a good man?” Teddy asked, just to be sure.
“Yes,” Harry replied, “I know it’s hard for you to understand and everything Ted, but your Dad was one of the best men I knew, one of the best men my Dad and my Godfather knew and he was, most definitely, the best man your Mum knew, even with his furry-little problem.”
“Furry little problem?” Teddy asked, confused, but smiling none the less.
“That’s what my Dad used to call your Dad’s werewolf-condition in company, apparently everyone was under the impression your Dad owned a badly behaved rabbit.”
Teddy’s grin broke into a laugh, and as it did so, his hair suddenly returned its usual vivid turquoise. Soon, Harry found he was laughing too, the way Remus had done when he had told Harry that story in the sitting room in the Burrow all those years ago. Soon, both Harry and Teddy were laughing so hard that they had tears in their eyes.
“Thanks Harry,” Teddy said, breathing heavily to control the laughter as he tried to compose himself.
“For what?” Harry replied, confused for the second time that day.
“For making me feel better about my Dad,” Teddy said, resting his head on Harry’s shoulder.
Harry put his arm around his Godson, as the two of them sat silently, backs resting against the bed. Harry understood Teddy’s gratitude. It had been Sirius and Remus who had reassured Harry about his father when Harry questioned his character. Harry knew that Teddy, like Harry’s younger self, had placed his father up on this grand pedestal, believing beyond doubt that he was a sort of hero. Harry more than understood what it felt like to then have him fall from grace, down from that great pedestal, upon the discovery of a new piece of information, Remus’s lycanthropy for instance, or in Harry’s case, witnessing James’s unprovoked attack on Snape. Such an experience would upset and trouble anyone, especially a young boy. But falling from grace was part of human nature, because no one was perfect, not even Dumbledore. Humans, by nature, are flawed. Sooner or later, every child must understand that all heroes do bad things at some point, but those bad things shouldn’t take from or taint all the good things the hero has done.
Harry was just glad that he had been able to reassure Teddy and put things right again. So, smiling broadly, he ruffled Teddy’s hair. “Now, what do you say we put your posters back up, eh?”
Teddy nodded, his eyes once again alive and alert and happy. “I never should’ve taken them down,” he said, almost embarrassed at his own rashness. “I should’ve known that you wouldn’t lie to me about my Dad, that you wouldn’t say that he was good, unless he really was good.”
Teddy stood up, and began smoothing out his crumpled posters and newspaper clippings. Harry pointed his wand at them, instantly removing their creases and returning them to their rightful places on the wall. Teddy smiled at the sight, before running to the bin, where he began pulling all the toy wolves out from its depths. He ran back to Harry.
“Fix them Harry, please,” Teddy pleaded, holding the broken model wolves out in his little hands. Harry smiled, and waved his wand again. The broken limbs knitted themselves back into place. No one would ever guess that they were once broken. “Thanks!” Teddy replied, beaming.
Teddy picked up each of the wolf figures he had attempted to throw away and apologised to each little toy in turn. Next, he rushed around his room, putting each toy back in its rightful place carefully and tenderly, as though the objects were a live being that had feelings. He picked up Wolf and hugged him tightly, apologising profusely for throwing him at the wall, before he placed the old, dirty teddy on his bed.
Teddy then turned to the scraps of paper on the floor. He picked each piece up and began putting the image back together; the way Muggles would do a Jigsaw. Harry watched silently, until suddenly he recognised the image Teddy was reconstructing. It was the photo of Remus as a very small child, the one in which he looked just like Teddy. Harry raised his wand to perfectly fix the ripped photo. However, before he could do so, Harry saw the little ripped scraps slowly bind themselves together again.
Harry smiled broadly, he couldn’t help it. Teddy was using magic. He had heard Andromeda talk about Teddy showing signs of magic from the time he was four years old, but Harry had never witnessed it before. A warm, bright, happy feeling began to fill him.
Next, Teddy did something Harry did not expect. He picked up the newly-repaired photo in his little hands. He just stared at it for a moment, holding his breath.
“I’m sorry Dad,” Teddy said softly to the photo, after a moment’s pause. He did not care that Harry was looking at him. “I’m sorry for thinking you were a monster and I want you to know that – that, werewolf or not, I love you very much.”
A fiercely warm feeling flooded Harry’s insides, making his eyes burn with tears. He was so touched by his Godson’s little gesture, because he knew that those words would have meant the world, and more, to Remus.
“Hey Ted?” Harry began, his voice strangely high, “What do you think about going to the Quidditch Final next week, with me?”
Teddy’s face lit up, and a smile spread across his face, dazzling and bright. “Yes Please!”
Write a Review I Hope He Will Understand: Fall From Grace