Chapter 3 : Reminders
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Arthur caught the soft murmur of Harry’s ‘Come on Teddy, open your mouth. It’s good, trust me. It really is. Just open your mouth. Please.’ and found himself remembering the many evenings he had spent doing just that. Charlie had been the particularly difficult one, forcing him to imitate the roars of dragons and the huffs of thestrals.
He had desperately wished for one of those muggle recorder-things to do the imitating for him.
But those years were long since passed and those who had once sat in the same chair as Teddy did now were old and leaving the Burrow; the present peace was shattered by the loud thuds of a teenage boy in a poor mood bounding down the stairs.
Ron’s face was a stormy mess, blue eyes cloud-grey and red hair knotted in clumps, as he threw the door open. “Where is she?”
His glance was wild, erratic, as he systematically discarded each person in the room. He finally found her, calmly reading the Daily Prophet with a mug of coffee in her hand.
“What the bloody hell did you do?”
“Language, Ron,” Harry warned with a nod in Teddy’s direction. “Today’s the first day Andromeda let me take Teddy away from her house and I don’t want it to end in a howler!”
Ron just moodily flicked his eyes at Harry before ignoring him.
“I know it was you. No one else would do it. What did you do with my stash of firewhisky?” His voice was dark and he seemed to have forgotten that his dad was in the room, polishing off some tea before he left for work.
“I removed it.” Hermione’s tone was formal and she barely spared a glance in Ron’s direction before continuing to read the newspaper.
“You did what?” He looked wildly around the kitchen as if he was looking for something to smash. He made a desperate dash to the cupboard above the cooling unit where the family supply of alcohol was kept, but was unable to open it. He scrambled for a few moments with the clasp before giving in with a cry of frustration.
“I don’t think it’s working, Ron,” Harry called, safe on the other side of the table.
“I got that, surprisingly enough,” Ron growled, shooting another accusing glace at Hermione. “I just want to know why it isn’t working.”
“Oh—that? I just placed a spell on you so that you can’t touch alcohol.”
“What! You can’t do that! You have no right! Remove it now.”
“I can’t.” Her tone was matter of fact. “It’s permanent—at least for the next few weeks.”
Ron spluttered incoherently and Teddy cooed, swallowing some of the orange goo.
“There’s a good boy,” Harry praised. “He just ate some mashed carrots.”
Arthur gave a small smile. “That’s great Harry.”
Harry beamed at him.
“He just ate carrots. It’s not like he climbed the Astronomy tower.”
The tips of his ears reddened and he turned back to his original point of contention—Hermione.
“So it can’t be removed?” There was an undercurrent of the desperation of a dying man facing his last hope in his voice and his face crumpled when Hermione crisply replied:
“Then I’ll have to eat chocolate and I’ll be fat and it’ll be all your fault!” Ron’s voice had grown considerably shriller during his diatribe and his face now looked just like a tomato.
Arthur, who thought his son’s behaviour ridiculous and immature, said, “Ronald, enough.” Ron’s face grew redder, if that was at all possible, and stormed out of the kitchen, slamming the door behind him.
Arthur glanced at the old, beaten watch on his wrist and with a brief goodbye to those still eating left for work.
The summer months slipped quietly away until, without Arthur really even noticing, splashes of red and brown took over the countryside and a silent countdown to September 1st began.
This year there was a conspicuous lack of panic as the sun rose and when Molly called up the children (though were they really children anymore?), her voice echoing up the clean stairs, there was no mad scramble to find lost textbooks or locate the missing pair of socks.
This year the trunks were already neatly packed and waiting at the end of each bed—they had been that way for a week. Their owners were anxious for the change in atmosphere, for their lives had been static for the past few months, held in a suspension of swirling emotions that they could not control.
Ginny was first down the stairs, wearing worn fuzzy pajamas with quaffles flying circles around her legs and muffling a yawn with the back of her hand. She had perhaps been the most eager to leave the Burrow for Molly had clutched her close over the summer, constantly checking her whereabouts and making sure she stayed near the house.
Arthur noticed with fondness that she was wearing the bracelet they had given her for her coming of age gift. They had tried to make it fun, a celebratory event, but the world she was becoming an adult in was not necessarily one filled with hope and the party had resembled that. Streamers hung from the beams of the ceiling had sagged and become an annoyance to the passersby below. Balloons filled with confetti had popped before their time and had littered the floor with scraps of unwanted paper. Everyone they had thought to invite was still grieving for their losses in the war and though they tried to put it from their minds it was impossible.
A plate clattered down in front of him and Arthur noticed that Ron and Hermione had joined them in the kitchen.
“Harry’s still upstairs.” Molly just nodded and sent a warming charm at the pan of bacon sizzling on the stove and the eggs still hot in the bowl. Harry’s sleeping patterns were well known by now and they tried to let him sleep late in the morning. When you were forcefully awakened hours before the sun rose by nightmares you couldn’t avoid you tended to grasp any chance of sleep you could.
The morning passed away in a sleepy haze for without the rush that had accompanied the last seventeen September 1sts of his life there was no panic or hurry to gather the last remnants of the night before.
Almost too soon for what would be the last time he did this he was entering King’s Cross and watching as the great steam engine rolled into the platform. A quick hug and a kiss later he was saying waving goodbye to his children as they went off to their last year at Hogwarts.
When had they grown up so fast?
Time passed quickly, days disappearing into weeks disappearing into months, and mourning became a part of their daily life. Molly rarely left the house and Arthur returned to it as soon as he could after work. It was their house, their home, and it had carried them safely through the war. They had not lost any members while living in that house and it was only once they had stepped out of it and into the war that their son had been killed.
The crooked arches of the doorways were familiar, the creaking of the old floorboards comforting. They received the occasional owl from Hogwarts, Ginny telling them the progress of Ron’s courtship of Hermione (he had finally worked up the nerve to ask her to Hogsmeade!) and Ron telling them all of Ginny’s forward actions with Harry (she had kissed him in full view of the entire school!). Hermione had sent them one letter filled with information Arthur had been glad to read—with the crumble of many of the passageways during the war there was no way for Ron to have access to alcohol and Hermione was carefully monitoring his recovery.
“So long as he stays away from drink in the near future, which should be easy as Hogwarts has a strict no-alcohol policy concerning its students, I think that I can successfully wean him off. He is miserable right now but it is for the best. I know that I have your support in my endeavors and I tell him such whenever he complains.”
Letters from his other children were even less frequent but Molly and Arthur made up for that by visiting them often. After the war none of them could deny the importance of family.
The snow was melting outside the window and sweeping sheets of rain followed Charlie as he entered the house. Spring, though a time of blossoming and bright, airy mornings, was also an awkward transition stage, not quite winter, not quite summer, and as such was filled with mud, freezing rain and bare branches. Arthur supposed that the moods at the table were quite similar to the one outside and regretted the small size of the kitchen. It would be almost impossible for tonight to pass peacefully—George, who Arthur had seen hard at work in the back of his shop every time he had visited this past week, had seemed annoyed when Arthur had seen him that afternoon. The few hours since then hadn’t improved his temper.
Molly had had to conjure new chairs for the night as Ginny and Ron were home for the Easter holidays and had been followed by Harry and Hermione. Arthur had barely seen them the past few days for Hermione apparently had them under a strict study regime that they were following to the letter. Assignments and essays abounded in NEWT levels and Hermione wasn’t going to let them fall behind. Arthur had, however, seen the magical barrier appear around the cupboard where the alcohol was stored—Ron had been cranky for a few hours after he saw that.
George was edgy during dinner, irritated. His right leg kept a steady rhythm on the floor and he slung his head to the side several times in an attempt to push his hair off his face. His jokes had a nastier edge, when he did speak at all, and in his silences the thump thump of his leg filled the room.
“George,” Molly began only to have him snap at her.
“What?” His tone was sharp, biting, and Molly bristled.
“Don’t take that tone with me, young man! We’re trying to have a nice family dinner and you’re ruining it. Please stop banging your foot into the floor—you’ll wear a hole in it.”
George just grumbled, a hushed ‘We’re not a family anymore’, and looked away. Silence filled the room and Molly smiled at her son. “Thank you George.”
He didn’t make any sign of having heard her.
It wasn’t until a few minutes later that Percy took it upon himself to cover up the aching silence in the room, the unspoken tension. He was as prim and proper as always, taking a drink of water before he started speaking.
“You know, George, I was walking past your store on my way to purchase belladonna from the apothecary when I noticed that your wards are wearing a little thin. You should repair them before anyone else notices and tries to rob your shop.”
George just glowered at him and chewed angrily on a piece of chicken. “I don’t need your help, Percy. I don’t care if people break into my shop—they can take it all for all I care!”
“Well that’s just stupid.” Ron had joined in the conversation and was waving his food-filled fork around to underscore his point. Hermione made a face as a piece of spicy chicken came dangerously close to hitting her cheek.
Molly looked as though she wanted to stop the conversation.
“I can repair them for you George,” Bill offered and Fleur patted his cheek before straining to reach the platter of buns. Her back curved awkwardly over the roundness of her pregnant stomach and George, though he was closest to plate, ignored the struggle. Molly quickly moved to help her, passing it to Fleur through Bill and Fleur smiled gratefully at her.
George grunted his apologies, not looking in her direction.
“George,” Arthur scolded but George only rolled his eyes.
“George!” Molly said.
“I’m not in the mood,” George said as he pushed his plate away. “The food was lovely, thank you mother, but I think I must be off.”
“George…” This time Molly’s voice was softer, pleading almost, but George walked away just the same, leaving his unfinished plate of carrots, beans and chicken. The slam of the front door was heard all the way in the kitchen and Molly looked away.
“I’d better clear that up.”
But as she placed George’s plate in the sink all they could see was the empty hole where Fred would have sat, right beside George.
The end of an era always comes faster, more suddenly, than its beginning. Arthur could still remember in startling clarity the September 1st he and Molly had seen Bill (though he still agreed to being called William back then) off for his first year at Hogwarts. He had been excited, not seeming the littlest bit nervous, but Arthur had seen his white-handed grip around Molly when she went to hug him goodbye.
He had been as scared as everyone else that day, though the younger children hadn’t understood what was going on.
Ginny had been just a year old that day and now she had graduated.
She was stepping out beyond the reach of his arms and he had to let her go, the youngest of his children.
“Arthur, it’s here! It’s coming!” Molly’s grip was tight on his arm—she too had realized that all their children were now officially classified as adults.
Unlike the first time they had done this seventeen years ago they were alone on the platform. There was no young Ronald pulling on his sleeve, asking when they were going to go home – he just wanted his teddy bear—or a mischievous Fred and George looking at the station with a look Arthur knew meant that they had ideas for practical jokes.
Big practical jokes.
And as for the final time in his children’s educational career the Hogwarts Express, as shiny and red as the day it was made (oh, the joys of magic), pulled in, Arthur felt tears welling in his eyes.
Ginny and Ron had graduated from Hogwarts and were now seeking jobs—they had grown up.
But hopefully they would always think of the Burrow as home, Arthur thought as he pulled his only daughter into his arms.
“I’m so proud of you.”
Arthur wasn’t able to see Harry’s godson too often—Andromeda had become his primary guardian until Harry had a stable home and income and Andromeda wasn’t a person he saw on a regular basis. However, she allowed Harry to whisk Teddy away for the occasional weekend or afternoon—whatever free time he had after Auror training— and Harry often brought him to the Burrow.
Teddy was a bright and bubbling little boy, always blowing spit bubbles and crossing his eyes as he examined his fingers. Harry clung to him, visiting him almost daily to help feed or put him to sleep, always watching with wide eyes as he changed his nose or the colour of his eyes.
Arthur suspected that he watched so closely as to see Remus or Tonks come alive again in their son, just as Molly had done years earlier when her brothers had died in battle.
“It’s not fair to him,” he said to Harry one evening as Teddy’s hands grasped Harry’s finger clumsily. Harry glanced at him, eyebrows raised.
Teddy’s eyes were the same amber brown as Remus’ had been and they looked far too old on his small face.
“He’s his own person. He’s not Remus, Harry. He can’t replace Remus.”
“I know that.” Harry’s tone was petulant.
“I don’t know if you do. The way you watch him sometimes, it’s as if you’re expecting him to tell you stories of your father or grow sick around the full moon.”
Harry sighed. “I know Remus is gone, Mr. Weasley. I saw his coffin being lowered into the ground. I’m not having issues dealing with this fact and I’m certainly not expecting Teddy to be Remus reincarnated. I look at him because he’s my godson and I love him.”
Harry was looking at Arthur as if he was just daring him to challenge his words, so Arthur decided to let the matter drop for the moment.
“Okay Harry. But I know it’s hard to deal with loss and I just want you to know that if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here.” He placed his hand on Harry’s leg in a gesture of comfort and understanding. ”Teddy certainly is a special little boy.”
And he was, a charming and funny mix of Remus and Tonks.
It was an odd experience, watching Teddy grow. Each time Arthur saw him trailing gamely after Harry or Andromeda (she was now considered a part of the family) he had a different appearance. His favourite, though, seemed to include emerald green eyes, pale skin and messy raven hair. He looked like Harry’s twin, albeit a shorter, plumper version.
Molly adored it when he visited, placing him in the chair of honour at the head of the table. She loved the sounds of baby babble and childish nonsense filling the Burrow once again and encouraged Harry to bring Teddy around more often. Harry rarely said no.
She cooed and fussed and reminisced about when their own children had been young. Many soups were watered with her tears, though she claimed she was just cutting onions.
“They’re so old! Yesterday I was nursing Bill and now I’m about to be a grandmother!” she wailed and Arthur privately agreed as he hugged her tight. He missed coming home to joyful calls of ‘Daddy’s here!’ and little bodies slamming into his legs. He even missed the juvenile pranks Fred and George used to play on them and the wonderful chaos of a family with seven kids and only one bathroom.
After Victoire was born, with the rest of his grandchildren following shortly afterwards, family dinners were even more hectic than ever before and Molly was in her element, flicking her wand to boil water while cutting carrots with her other hand. Being surrounded by youth, a new generation, new hope, was perhaps the best method of healing for Molly and Arthur.
Their family was still there, still alive. It wasn’t shattered, just broken and the pieces were coming back together.
There were still cracks, though.
There were still moments were the sadness threatened to swallow them whole, when the reminders of Fred were everywhere.
Teddy imitated the looks of those around him, playing with gray hair and wrinkles or reading with bushy brown hair. It was hard, sometimes, when he would take on the features of those he had seen only in photos.
One night when the moon was hanging low in the sky and its silver glow was the only light in the room, Arthur watched as Molly slowly took their family photo albums from the tilting bookshelves. He watched as she opened the book on her lap and slowly traced Fred’s face as he fed chickens in the yard.
“He looks so young here,” she said as Arthur crushed the worn out cushions beside her with his weight. “Remember how he used to complain about wasting his time with the ‘foul little peckers’? Oh how he used to torment them—throwing the kernels with the strength of an abraxan at their heads and shrieking like the devil whenever they tried to eat.”
He squeezed her shoulder and turned the page to the picture of Fred and George’s first time on a broom. “He was quite violent as a boy, wasn’t he? Put it to good use as a beater, though.”
“Oh Arthur.” She swatted his hand and Arthur smiled softly. Maybe it was getting better. Maybe the pain of Fred’s death was softening, scabbing over. Maybe things would be better, easier now. Maybe they could talk about Fred without someone crying or the kitchen falling into an awkward, uncomfortable silence. Maybe…
They sat in silence, the pages of the album slowly turning as they watched their children grow older all over again. Ginny’s birth, a small tuft of red hair matching the colour of her face as she wailed. Bill’s first year at Hogwarts, followed by Charlie and Percy and the rest, year after year. Charlie hugging his ratty stuffed dragon, smiling toothily at the camera. Percy helping Molly cook soup and setting the table. Precious moments, each and every one of them, preserved within a sturdy, black-spined photo album.
Arthur considered it the most valuable thing he owned.
A tear splashed on Ginny dressed as a boy, face dirty and robe ripped, and Arthur gently closed the album, placing it softly on the floor.
“H-he looked j-just like Fred.” And then tears were welling in his eyes as well. With wizarding robes askew, flaming red hair and a mischievous grin on his face, Teddy could have passed for a younger Fred when he played in the yard that afternoon.
“I-I thought i-it really was h-him for a moment,” she said, dabbing her eyes with the hem of her shirt.
“So did I,” Arthur said, “So did I.” And there was nothing more to be said, as they sat in shared misery on the couch that had seen the growth of their children.
Perhaps it would be easier tomorrow.
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