Chapter 7 : Old Enough to Understand
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He knocked hard on the front-door. Andromeda opened it almost instantly. “Harry, thank Merlin!” she cried desperately. Her hair looked as though it had been dragged through a bush backwards. Her eyes were blood-shot. Tear tracks stained her cheeks and she was wringing her hands.
“What’s wrong?” Harry asked, his heart thundering in his chest at the sight of her looking like this. Her letter had been unclear, it simply begging him to come, but did not say why. Now, he was scared to know why.
“I’ve – I’ve done something ... something awful!” Andromeda whispered, her lips hardly moving at all.
“Is Teddy alright?” Harry asked, the words escaping his mouth before he could stop them.
Andromeda did not reply.
“Is Teddy alright?” Harry repeated forcefully, looking Andromeda straight in the face.
Andromeda shook her head. Harry did not wait for an explanation. He ran forwards, accidently pushing Andromeda over in his haste to get in the house.
“TED? TED? TED?” he shouted, as he sprinted up the stairs.
His hands were shaking.
His heart was thundering in his chest.
Teddy was not responding.
Harry darted across the landing and hammered on Teddy’s bedroom door. “TED! TED!” he called again. There was still no reply. He grabbed the door handle and pushed. It was locked. He rammed his shoulder against the door. That did nothing, save hurt his shoulder. “TED!” He pulled his wand out, and tapped the key hole, muttering: “Alohamora!”.
It had no effect.
“TED! TED!” Harry called again, images of his eleven-year-old Godson lying unconscious on the floor swimming before his eyes. “TED! PLEASE, answer me!” Harry tried opening the door again, but with no success.
Andromeda came up the stairs. “He’s locked it magically,” she explained. “I can’t get it open.”
Harry hammered on the door again, frantically pushing down the handle. Underage wizards cannot control their magic, and that made it only all the more difficult to fix their rogue spells. “TED!” he shouted. “TED! It’s me! It’s Harry! PLEASE ANSWER ME TED!”
He turned to Andromeda. “Is he hurt?” he asked seriously. She did not reply. “IS HE HURT?” Harry repeated, shouting this time.
Andromeda continued to stare at her shoes, “Not physically,” she replied finally, her voice barely above a whisper.
Harry pounded his fist on the door again. “Ted, please, you’re scaring me here,” he said, pleading with Teddy to open the door.
“GO AWAY!” Teddy shouted forcefully, his voice muffled by the closed door.
Relief washed over Harry, settling his hammering heart and shaking limbs. At least Teddy wasn’t unconscious or hurt so badly he couldn’t talk.
“Are you alright, Ted?” Harry asked.
“GO AWAY!” Teddy shouted again, his voice breaking.
“What happened, Ted?”
“I only just got here,” Harry said, very calmly, “why do I have to go?”
“BECAUSE YOU’RE LIAR!” Teddy shouted in reply, the venom in his voice plain and clear.
“I’m not a liar,” Harry replied seriously. He was completely at a loss as to what was going on.
“YOU ARE! YOU ARE! I’M SICK OF GROWN-UPS ALWAYS LYING TO ME! YOU AND NANA AND EVERYONE! GO AWAY HARRY! JUST GO AWAY!”
Harry was hurt by these words. His heart immediately started going into overdrive again. He had never out-right lied to Teddy. Sure, he was bent the truth a few times or conveniently left out a detail or two until Teddy was old enough to understand, but he had never full-on lied. Yet, something had Teddy really rattled. Harry had no idea what that was, but he had a funny feeling that Andromeda did.
He rounded on her, and doing nothing to hide the accusation in his voice he said: “What did you do?”
Her frame trembled, but she did not reply.
“Andromeda,” Harry said seriously, “What did you do?”
“I had to do it,” Andromeda began, pleading with Harry to understand. “I had to, Harry. He was becoming too obsessed with werewolves!” At the mention of that final word Harry felt as though he had just swallowed a bucket full of ice.
“He plays all these games where he is a werewolf,” Andromeda said quickly, her voice frantic. It was as though she figured that the less time Harry had to comment, the less trouble she would be in. “He pretends he is a werewolf! He howls at the full moon or – or runs around the garden at night!”
“He’s just a kid, he’s just play-” Harry injected, but Andromeda cut across him.
“The other day he was playing with Philip Jones from down the road. They were just playing in the garden, and then – and then – I saw Teddy bite Philip and start howling, saying that Philip too was now a werewolf and that they must go around and bite everyone to form an army, an army to defeat all the bad wizards. Harry,” she pleaded, looking him full in the face, “I had to do something. I was worried. That type of behaviour – it – it isn’t right, isn’t appropriate. I couldn’t let it continue, I – I had to do something.”
“What did you do?” Harry said bluntly, though he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
Andromeda shook her head.
“Andromeda!” Harry said firmly.
“It was awful,” she said, tears swelling in her eyes. “He had never looked at me like that before. I – I – think I – I broke him. He just shouted and cried and ran up to his room and magically locked the door. He’s been in there nearly two days. I – just – just don’t know what to do!” And with that she broke down crying and Harry found that, without his volition, he was hugging her tightly, telling her it was OK.
The only problem was that things weren’t OK, and that Teddy, most definitely, wasn’t OK. Nevertheless, Harry lied and told Andromeda that everything was OK. Perhaps Teddy was right, perhaps he, Harry, was a liar.
Harry brought Andromeda down stairs into the quaint little kitchen, which looked almost exactly like a standard Muggle one, and made her a very strong cup of tea. She drank it without saying a word. She was trembling all over, as though her soul, her very heart were breaking before Harry’s eyes. It took a while for her to calm down.
“He’s all I have,” Andromeda began quietly, her voice hoarse. “He means everything to me, and I love him more than I can put into words.”
“And he loves you too,” said Harry firmly, giving her hand a reassuring pat across the table.
“I don’t know anymore,” she said, tears forming in her eyes again.
“What did you do, Andromeda?” Harry asked, very calmly. “I can’t help you fix this, unless you tell me what happened.”
Andromeda gripped her mug of tea tighter, before raising her head and looking at Harry determinedly. “I wish I hadn’t said it, Harry. The second I did, I wished that I could take the words back – that I could travel through time and stop myself from doing it. I hurt him, Harry,” she said, her voice so full of regret, “I really hurt him. But I swear I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t know it would affect him like that.”
She was crying again.
“What did you tell him?” Harry urged, though somewhere, in the back of his mind, a little voice was screaming the answer. Harry chose to ignore this voice, because he hoped against all hope that his hunch wasn’t true.
“I told him that his father, his werewolf father, abandoned him and his mother before he was born.”
Harry’s hand unconsciously retracted away from Andromeda’s. He stood up from the small kitchen table and turned his back on her. He was frantically trying to think of a way to clean up this mess. Harry just hoped that Teddy wasn’t beyond reassuring, that he hadn’t written Remus out of his life irrevocably, or that he didn’t hate his father so much that Harry could not reconcile their relationship.
“Please Harry,” she beseeched to his back, “I only meant it to stop him glorifying werewolves as heroes. I didn’t mean for him to get upset. I just wanted to show him that werewolves are bad, and that he shouldn’t wish he was one.”
“Werewolves aren’t bad,” Harry said stiffly, still refusing to look at her. What she had done was petty and cruel. Harry knew her words had caused far more damage than she could possibly imagine.
“Harry, surely you – after everything – Greyback – the werewolves joining the Death Eaters – fighting against you – surely...?”
“Remus Lupin wasn’t bad,” Harry said, raising his voice. “He was one of the best men I knew. He died fighting to give me time to finish Voldemort. He looked out for me since I was thirteen years old.”
Andromeda said nothing.
“Do you know what the last words he said to me were?” Harry began, his voice strained as he slowly turned to face the old woman in front of him. He was angry at her, angry at her constant attempts to discredit Teddy’s father. It had to stop, right here, right now. “He said to me that he was sorry he would never know Ted, but that his son would know why he died and he hoped that Ted would understand that his father died trying to make a world in which he could live a happier life.” *1
Andromeda started crying again. “But – but he left them ... abandoned them.”
“He came back, that’s all that mattered, he came back,” Harry said seriously. “And he only left because he thought that Tonks – that Nymphadora – and Ted would be better off without him, because he had made them out outcasts, made them at the top of the Death Eater and Ministry hit-lists. He thought that if he left, they would be safe.”
“Dora couldn’t get out of bed when he left. He hurt her more than he knew,” Andromeda replied, almost angry at Harry’s defence of Remus’s greatest mistake.
“He thought he was protecting his family,” Harry replied confidently. “But there was more to it than that. He was scared. He was so scared that Ted would be ashamed to have him as his father. He thought that his son would be better off without his cursed werewolf father in his life.” Harry felt that it was important that Andromeda knew this, so that she would understand the extent of the damage she had done to both Remus and his son by her harsh words. All Remus ever wanted was for his son to love him, and Andromeda had harshly and rashly destroyed that wish without a second’s hesitation.
“I didn’t know,” she said regretfully.
“I know you didn’t much care for Remus, and I respect that,” Harry began, staring at the old, care-worn, suffering woman in front of him, “But he was a great man, Andromeda, and Teddy has every right to know that. You must tread carefully. You shouldn’t tarnish Teddy’s Dad so lightly.”
“I wish I could take it back, take it all back.”
“Words hurt more than jynxes precisely because they can never be taken back or removed. They stay forever.”
“What am I going to do?”
“We have to talk to Ted, the both of us.”
“He’s locked the door,” Andromeda sobbed. “We can’t get in.”
It was just as she said these words that Harry spotted Ted’s Comet 420 propped up against the back door and the solution hit him quicker than a speeding Bludger.
“He hasn’t locked the window,” Harry replied, grinning at the brilliance of his idea.
He seized the broomstick, and brought it out into the back garden, followed closely by Andromeda. He mounted the broom, and kicked off hard. The wind pressed cold bursts onto his face, as though trying to soothe his troubled heart. He reached the window almost instantly, and before Teddy had a chance to realise what was happening, Harry had his wand out and the window open. He clambered inside rather clumsily, the window was very narrow.
“GO AWAY!” Teddy shouted, angry that Harry had snuck into his room without permission.
“Sorry Ted, can’t do that,” Harry said, stepping down from the window-sill.
As Harry had expected, all of Teddy’s wolf toys and posters were, once again, in the rubbish bin, thrown there in a fit of resentment at his father. Harry examined his Godson, and once he got past the angry look on his face, Harry saw that the boy was very pale, with dark circles cradling his blood-shot eyes. He was standing upright, trembling all over, as though he were close to just shattering into a thousand tiny pieces. The leather-bound photo-album Harry had given him was clutched tightly in his shaking hands. His hair was dull-black, and Harry instinctively knew, just by looking, that Teddy’s spirit had been broken. The mischievous grin was gone from his face and his eyes were robbed of their happy sparkle. Teddy was lost and hurt, and everything inside him was screaming so loudly that Harry expected at any second to suddenly hear the turmoil raging around inside his Godson burst forth. Andromeda was right. She had broken him.
“What do you say about you and I having a little chat?” Harry began, very calmly. He would have to choose his words very carefully, because he was sure that with one false utterance Teddy would sever all connections to Harry, Andromeda and Remus all in one blow.
“NO!” Teddy shouted, absolutely livid. “I don’t want to talk to you, all you’ll do is lie to me, and I’m sick of grown-ups lying to me.”
“I will never lie to you Ted,” Harry said, honestly. He meant every word he said. Teddy was eleven years old, and he would be heading off to Hogwarts in a few short months. The time for white-lies and conveniently omitting certain details was over. He was old enough to understand.
“I – DON’T – BELIEVE – YOU!” Teddy bellowed, punctuating each word with a fiery rage. “You’ll lie to me again! You always lie to me!”
“When have I lied to you?” Harry asked, again keeping his voice very calm.
Teddy shot Harry a look of deepest loathing, as though he felt that Harry should already know the answer to that question.
“YOU TOLD ME MY DAD WAS A GOOD MAN!”
“He was a good man Ted.”
“No he WASN’T! He left me and my Mum! He left us! Left us to run off on some adventure with you! He loved you more than he loved us! HE LEFT US!” tears were swelling in Teddy’s eyes. His whole frame was shaking with rage, and his voice was breaking with his efforts to hold himself together.
“He didn’t leave you, and he certainly didn’t love me more than you.”
“STOP LYING TO ME!” Teddy screamed. “I am sick of grown-ups always lying to me! I will not be treated as a fool!
“I’m not lying to you Ted,” Harry said seriously, though now he could feel himself started to tremble too. He was afraid, afraid of how this was going to end. If he made one false move and he would lose Teddy forever.
“You’re a liar Harry! And I’m a fool for ever believing you! Well, not anymore!” Teddy opened the leather-bound photo-album he was holding and began ripping and tearing out every page, and throwing them to the ground as though they were rubbish. Harry watched as the occupants of the photographs shouted and protested as they tumbled out of view from the sheer force at which they were hurled to the floor. Hundreds of images swam before Harry’s eyes, Remus’s life appeared before the pair of them in complete free-fall.
Harry let Teddy do this act of vandalism. Teddy needed to get his anger and hurt out of his system, and the photos could be repaired perfectly by magic later on.
Teddy was crying now. Tears rolled down his face, silent, hurt tears, as he tore page upon page out of the album, casting each to the floor in turn as though they were something indecent.
When he ran out of pages, Teddy hurled the leather cover and Harry’s head, as though enraged by his Godfather’s calmness. With a flick of his wand, the album floated gently to the floor before it made contact with Harry’s head.
“Finished?” Harry asked calmly.
“SHUT UP!” Teddy bellowed, his small frame shaking from head to foot.
Harry’s insides were shaking too. He was absolutely terrified of what might happen, but he did not let it show. It wasn’t easy watching Teddy standing in front of him in so much pain. All Harry wanted to do was wrap his arms around his Godson, hold him tight and make everything alright again. But he knew better. At this moment in time, that course of action was, most definitely, the wrong one to take.
“Sorry Ted,” Harry replied, “I can’t shut up, because you and me need to talk.”
Teddy looked as though he was about ready to hit Harry. “NO!” he shouted. “You’ll just lie to me again!”
“I promise I will never lie to you.”
“YOU’RE LYING! You’ve always lied to me, and you always will!”
“When did I lie to you?” Harry asked, he was surprised at how well he was doing at keeping his voice calm, because right now he was anything but calm. He could hear his heart pounding in his ears, and his palms were sweating profusely.
“ALL THE TIME!” Teddy replied through gritted teeth, his rage still at boiling point.
“Name one time.”
Teddy shouted in loud, animalistic roars. He sounded like a wounded-bear. “You told me my Dad was good! You told me he loved me and my Mum!”
“That wasn’t a lie Ted.”
“IT WAS!” Teddy bellowed.
Suddenly, Harry heard a deafening CRACK, and the loaded book shelf above his head instantly gave way. Harry dived to one side, narrowly avoiding the avalanche of books.
Underage magic was a dangerous thing.
“Let me explain Ted,” Harry began, picking himself up off the floor.
“You mean ‘Let me lie to you again Ted’!” Teddy snapped.
“I promise I won’t lie to you. I’ll tell you everything.”
Teddy glared at Harry for a moment, clearly deciding whether or not to believe him. For a second, Harry thought Teddy was going to start throwing things again. But he didn’t.
“Fine, but – but if you lie-”
“I won’t lie,” Harry said firmly. “I promise.”
“But – but if you do,” Teddy stammered, his voice enraged, “when I get a wand I will come to your house and jynx you into oblivion.”
“Alright,” Harry said, though he doubted that Teddy would not be able to jynx him into oblivion for at least four or five more years.
Teddy nodded stiffly and sat down on his bed, crossing his arms and his legs and glaring at Harry with more hatred than Harry thought was possible for such a young child to possess.
“Talk!” Teddy demanded.
Harry took a deep breath. What on earth was he going to say to fix this mess Andromeda had put them all in? “Yes, your Dad did leave your Mum when she was pregnant with you,” he said bluntly. Yes, great start that, now what? “But – but it was only for a little while and he did it, not because he didn’t want to be with his family anymore, but because he wanted to keep his family safe. What your Nan told you about his leaving – well, it was taken out of context Ted.”
“Taken out of context!” Teddy roared, “In what possible context could him leaving us ever be understandable?!”
“He left because he thought he was protecting you, keeping you both safe,” Harry replied, though he thought he heard his own voice tremble slightly as he spoke. This conversation was not going to be easy.
“Protecting us my arse!” Teddy shouted indignantly.
“Oi!” Harry blurted out, momentarily shocked at Teddy’s choice of phrase. He had never spoken like that before.
Teddy glared at Harry, so Harry put the phrase out of his mind for the moment.
“I just want you to listen to me Ted, that’s all, just listen. Then you can shout and throw things all you want, alright?”
Teddy said nothing, and Harry took that to mean that he was alright with listening to Harry’s story for the next few minutes.
“You have to understand things from your Dad’s point of view Ted. He thought he had good reasons for doing what he did,” Harry began very calmly.
“I don’t care what his reasons were! He left us! He left me and my Mum! LEFT US!” Teddy snarled.
Harry suddenly found he had a rush of admiration for Dumbledore, in how the headmaster handled Harry’s raging, grief-stricken, hot-headed and angry fifteen-year-old self when he tried to explain about the prophecy. It really took copious amounts of self-control not to shout back at the stubborn, shouting boy in front of you.
“You have to listen to me Ted,” Harry pleaded. “You need to understand what the world was like back then. Voldemort and his Death Eaters controlled the Ministry. There were Snatchers, Death Eaters and the like tearing the country apart looking for undesirables.”
“Undesirables?” Teddy repeated, speaking calmly for the first time today.
“Muggle-borns, blood-traitors, Members of the Order of the Phoenix,” Harry listed quickly, “and me, in short those who the new regime thought were unworthy, coupled with anyone who showed resistance to the new system.”
“Why Muggle-borns?” Teddy asked, his brain unable to find the reason behind hunting these innocent people.
“Because Voldemort believed them inferior, believed them to be using magic stolen from so-called ‘proper’ witches and wizards.”
“That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!” Teddy said, growing angry again, as he clearly believed that Harry was lying to him once more.
“It is completely ridiculous, but it is true,” Harry continued. “They forced all Muggle-borns to register as robbers of magic, those that refused were hunted down and captured or sometimes killed. That’s what happened to your Granddad. He refused to register as a Muggleborn and had to run away, but he got caught by the Death Eaters and they killed him.”
Teddy looked absolutely horrified at what he was hearing.
“It’s true Ted, every word,” Harry said gravely. “Muggle-borns were tortured, even eleven-year-old kids who were just starting Hogwarts. They were taken from their parents, snatched right from the school train. But it wasn’t only Muggleborns they were after, blood-traitors too, like Ginny, Ron and your Nan.”
“My Nan?” interjected Teddy incredulously.
“She is a pure-blood,” Harry explained, “But she married a Muggle-born, therefore ‘contaminating’ her pure-blood status. And the Weasleys, all of them are pure-blood too, but they were openly fighting the new regime, so they were treated as badly as the Muggle-borns. I had to go into hiding, Ted, I was undesirable number one. Me and Ron and Hermione had to go on the run, move from place to place, as we tried to come up with a way to defeat Voldemort, staying nowhere for more than a day or two. We went from hidden caves to deep forests to isolated mountains, all in the name of staying alive. But we were hunted constantly by Snatchers, Death Eaters and Voldemort sympathisers, and we got caught too. They tortured Hermione, carved the word ‘Mudblood’ into her arm. She still has the scar.”
Teddy looked sickened. He was completely revolted at what he was hearing.
“But that’s the way the world was Ted. It definitely wasn’t a nice place. Now, let’s look at your Mum and Dad,” Harry didn’t know it was even possible, but his tone became even more serious. “Both were members of the Order, so therefore they were already high on the Ministry hit-lists. But there was more to it than that, your Mum, a half-blood, married a werewolf, a werewolf who was fighting against Voldemort. She had, or so the regime believed, contaminated herself and her blood-status, so she would have been placed even higher again on the Ministry’s undesirable list. They would hunt her down and kill her.”
Teddy was listening attentively, but his expression was unreadable.
“Can you even imagine what they would have done to you when you were born?” Harry continued, shivering at the thought. “A possible mutated-werewolf with a blood-traitor mother and werewolf father who were both in the Order? They would have murdered you the second you were born Ted. Your Dad left because he thought he was protecting you both, believing that you and your Mum would be much safer in this awful world without him.”
“But if he truly loved us, he wouldn’t have left us to fend for ourselves!” Teddy said, his voice sounding hurt.
“On the contrary Ted,” Harry explained. “He loved you both so much that he couldn’t stand the thought of anything happening to either of you. He loved you both so much that he thought he had to let you both go. He felt that if he stayed, he would be placing you both in immediate danger and that would’ve been immensely selfish on his part, or so he reasoned.”
Teddy said nothing. He was thinking, though about what Harry had no idea.
“But that’s not all, Ted,” Harry went on, he wasn’t going to omit anything, he going to tell the truth, the whole truth. “Wanted to protect you was only half of the reason why he left. He also left because he was scared, real scared.”
“Scared of what? Dying? Death Eaters?” Teddy asked. He didn’t believe there was a reason scary enough to leave your family.
“No,” Harry replied gravely, “He was absolutely terrified that he had passed his condition onto you. That he had made you, an innocent baby, into a monster like him. He couldn’t live with himself if he had done that. He had been selfish, or so he believed, selfish to the point of carelessness. He loved your mother so much, but instead of hiding these feelings away, he embraced them, and married your mother, and then they had you. He saw it as him being selfish, him choosing his own happiness over your Mum’s safety. He felt guilty. He felt that he should never have given into his own selfishness and married your mother, and then, being so selfish again by risking passing his condition to his child.”
“He wasn’t being selfish!” Teddy injected, “He loved my Mum and she loved him! What’s selfish about that?”
“Well, your Dad was one of the most selfless people I knew. He refused to fall in love with anyone, because he did not want to hurt them or worse, bite them. He constantly told himself that he could never be close to anyone because he was a werewolf. So therefore, by his own reasoning, by being with your Mum, he was being selfish, putting his own happiness above your Mum’s safety and wellbeing.”
“That is absolutely mental,” Teddy said, completely aghast at his father’s actions.
“Yeah,” Harry agreed, “Definitely not one of his most clever moves really.”
“He had no way of knowing if I was a werewolf though,” Teddy began slowly, “I could have been completely fine.”
“Very true,” Harry said, relieved that Teddy believed everything he was saying. “But he thought that if you weren’t a werewolf then you would be miles better off growing up without a father of whom you must always be ashamed.”
Teddy lifted his head so quickly Harry was surprised his neck didn’t break. “WHAT?!” Teddy replied in indignation.
“His words Ted, not mine,” Harry said, holding his hands up in the gesture of ‘don’t shoot!’
“How – on – earth – could he – ever – think I could be ashamed of him?” Teddy said, completely insulted and affronted. “He’s my Dad! He spent his whole life fighting against Voldemort and the Death Eaters!”
“Your Dad had a very low opinion of himself. He never thought he could ever mean as much to anyone as they meant to him.”
“That’s stupid,” Teddy said, insulted by his father’s foolish behaviour.
“That’s what I told him, more or less,” Harry replied, his stomach squirming with guilt as he remembered the scene in Grimmauld Place where Harry insulted Remus, calling him a coward. He rubbed the back of his head, remembering how much it hurt when Remus had knocked him into the wall. “But don’t judge him too harshly,” Harry pressed on, “He grew up in a very hostile and prejudiced world. Most people saw the monster before they saw the man. In fact, sometimes, I even think that your Dad himself saw the monster before he saw the man.”
Teddy said nothing, he was thinking again, letting his brain absorb and sort through all this new information.
“It’s not the leaving that’s important Ted,” Harry said, unable to hide the plea for Teddy to understand in his voice, “It’s the fact that he came back.”
“OK,” Teddy replied quietly, nodding firmly.
“He loved you Ted,” Harry went on, “More than anything, and you do him an immense disservice by thinking, even for one instant, that you didn’t mean the world to him, or that he didn’t love you more than life itself.”
“OK,” Teddy repeated again in the same quiet voice.
“If you ever question that Ted, if you ever need irrevocable proof, just remember this: he died with your picture in his breast pocket.”
“He did?” Teddy asked in amazement.
“Yes he did,” Harry repeated. “He showed it to me. We were in the castle, preparing for battle and he showed it to me. It was the first time I ever saw you. You had bright turquoise hair and you were trying to bat the camera with your tiny fists. Your Dad was grinning from ear to ear when he showed it to me. He was so proud of you Ted, so proud.”
Teddy allowed himself a moment to smile at this thought.
“Your Dad loved you more than anything, Ted. You and your Mum meant the world to him, and he loved you both.”
“OK,” Teddy said finally, “I believe you.”
Harry let out a huge sigh of relief. “Thank Merlin!”
Teddy smiled, “Thanks Harry.”
“No problem, I’m your Godfather, it’s part of the job description.”
Teddy laughed, but his hair was still dull-black.
“Are you still mad at your Dad?” Harry asked slowly, noticing the lack of change of hair-colour.
“Not really,” Teddy explained. “I still don’t like that he left, but I understand why. I think I just need some time to think about everything from his point of view, and then put everything in a way for me to see him as mental and flawed, but nevertheless, a very good person.”
A rush of fierce pride suddenly swelled inside Harry, causing his eyes to burn. “Good man,” he said, clasping Teddy’s shoulder. “I’m proud of you, you know that?”
“I haven’t done anything,” Teddy said, bamboozled by his Godfather’s sudden rush of pride.
“You listened to what I said, and you are now thinking about it in a way that will help you understand and come to terms with it. You’re eleven-years-old, but just now you acted like a man well beyond your years and I’m proud of you for that.”
Teddy nodded, sniffing slightly. He bent his head and wiped his eyes with his sleeve. Harry pretended not to notice.
“Now what do you say that me and you head downstairs and make up with your Grandmother? You’ve had her at her wits end this past two days,” Harry said brightly.
Teddy shook his head.
Harry’s heart suddenly plummeted. “Ah Ted,” he said woefully.
“You didn’t hear how she said it Harry, you didn’t. She hated my Dad.”
“Hate is a very strong word,” Harry said quickly. “She’s just like pretty much everyone else in the world; prejudiced against werewolves. And,” Harry hesitated, wondering if he should proceed, “And now Ted, this stays between you and me now, alright?
“OK,” Teddy replied, rather confused as to where this was going.
“I think, and this is just my reasoning here, and I may be completely wrong, but I think your Nan blames your Dad for your Mum’s death.”
Teddy furrowed his eye-brows in bewilderment.
“He went to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts, telling your Mum to stay at home with you. But your Mum went after him, she couldn’t stand not knowing if he was alive or dead; couldn’t stand waiting here with your Nan for bad news to arrive, if it was going to come. She died because she went after your Dad, so both of them could fight together. Your Nan just blames him for her death, because, well, if she had never gotten involved with him, then she would still be alive or so your Nan reckons, anyway.”
“It wasn’t my Dad’s fault, my Mum just loved him,” Teddy said simply, describing things as he saw them.
“I agree,” Harry replied, “but I just think it helps your Nan grieve if she blames your Dad. She had a pretty hard life your Nan. She was disowned by her family for marrying a Muggle-born, then her husband is murdered by Death Eaters and her only daughter is then murdered by her sister. You’ve got to go easy on her Ted. You’re all she has. You’ve got to look after her.”
“Don’t worry,” Teddy replied, determinedly. “I’ll look after her, I’ll always look after her.”
Harry felt the rush of pride inside him swell to bursting point. “Good man.”
The pair stood in silence for a moment, not saying anything, but understanding each other without the need to use words. After a while, Harry’s eyes landed on the ruined mess of torn photographs littering the floor in front of him. “Want me to fix your photo album?” he offered kindly.
Teddy nodded, and Harry obliged with a casual flick of his wand.
“I’ll put the posters back up later,” Teddy said, looking over guiltily at the overflowing rubbish bin.
“Good idea,” Harry concurred.
“We should go down to Nana now, shouldn’t we?” Teddy began tentatively.
“Yeah, I think so,” Harry replied, just as tentatively. He didn’t want to force Teddy to do anything he didn’t want to.
“Will she be mad at me?” Teddy asked quietly.
Harry smiled and patted his Godson reassuringly on the back. “I think she will just be happy that you are out of your room and talking to her again.”
Teddy bit his lip. “You sure?”
“Fairly sure, yeah,” Harry replied, winking.
“Alright,” Teddy replied, preparing himself with a deep breath.
Harry watched as the boy headed for the door. It seemed crazy to think that when Teddy entered his room two days ago he was a small boy, but now, now he was leaving it as a young man. It was hard to believe that a child could grow up so much in a single conversation, but there was the proof. Harry suddenly noticed that his eyes were burning again, and that his throat seemed to be constricted.
Teddy was at the door. He was reaching out for the handle and pulling it down. It was at this instant that Harry experienced a moment of pure madness. He wanted to call out, to shout, to order Teddy to stop growing up, and to stay a little boy forever. The moment, however, passed as quickly as it came.
The door suddenly opened, as though it had been waiting for Teddy’s touch all this time. However, Teddy did not step out into the hall, instead, he turned and ran towards Harry.
But before Harry could even open his mouth, Teddy was wrapping his arms around him and hugging him tight. “I think my Dad definitely did one thing right,” Teddy said, his voice muffled as his face was pressed into Harry’s robes.
Harry hugged Teddy back, enjoying the fact that at least, for now, his Godson had not out-grown hugs just yet. “And what’s that?” Harry asked finally, his throat appearing to have constricted itself again.
“Choosing you to be my Godfather.”
*1 Paraphrased (slightly) from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pg 561 (UK edition).
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