It was the sound of rain hitting the bricks outside of their bedroom that woke Harry. It was nearing the end of March and the young couple had moved into a small one bedroom flat in South London.
Lifting his head, he peered through the early morning darkness. Ginny was still sleeping soundly next to him. The bedside clock read 6:11. Harry groaned inwardly. He knew he probably wouldn't be getting back to sleep. A noise at the window drew his attention and he smothered a laugh at the sight of Sparkle batting at the window shade.
He kissed Ginny on the cheek and slid quietly out of bed. Picking up the kitten, he made his way out to the kitchen.
"Hey, girl. Did the rain wake you up too?"
Sparkle meowed plaintively and Harry filled up her food and water bowls. Harry loved the tiny flat they'd found. It only had four rooms: the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room. What had drawn Harry to the flat was the large brick paved garden outside the bedroom. There was also a large bay window at the front of the house that allowed them to sit and watch the beautiful residential section of London.
Harry quickly mixed up some muffin batter and threw them in the oven before he started looking over the notes they'd been making. Since the destruction of the last Horcrux, the young couple had been preparing for the final confrontation with Voldemort. Harry was still not entirely confident that he would survive that final confrontation, but Ginny gave him a good reason to stay alive.
Their days were spent practicing spells and planning for that final confrontation. They were working on two sets of plans, one for confronting Voldemort at Malfoy Manor and one for confronting him while he was outside the manor, perhaps taking advantage of a Death Eater attack. Dobby and Kreacher had been invaluable in helping with the plans for Malfoy Manor as well as what defenses might be in place.
By the time Ginny woke up, Harry had made his way to the living room and was sitting on the couch munching on apple-cinnamon muffins.
He looked up and smiled as she padded into the room and plopped down next to him. "Good morning."
She leaned over and kissed him before grabbing a muffin from the basket Harry had set on the table in front of him. "Good morning, love. Have you been up long?"
"Yeah." Harry made a face. "The rain woke me up early."
Ginny scooted over and sat on Harry's lap. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close.
"Are you feeling better?" he asked, running his hands through her hair.
Ginny nodded. "Yeah, I didn't mean to freak you out. I told you my cramps could get pretty bad at times."
Harry kissed her softly as he continued to hold her close. Before Ginny, he'd never really been around a girl during her period. He assumed that Hermione went through something similar, but she never mentioned it. He and Ron just knew that at certain times she would be a bit short tempered.
The first time Ginny had gotten her period after she and Harry had gotten together, she discovered how little he actually knew about girls. She'd had to explain about the bleeding and moodiness and cramps. He'd even learned to shop for tampons without too much fuss.
She turned to look at him. "I'm sorry I yelled at you. I know you were trying to help, but I…sometimes I just need to be by myself at times."
Harry nodded. "I'm sorry. I…I just wanted you to feel better. I didn't mean to make it worse."
Ginny snuggled into his arms. "You didn't, love."
The young couple enjoyed their breakfast quietly. When they'd finished eating, Harry turned to Ginny. "Are you still sure you are up for this?"
Ginny nodded. "Of course, love. I'm going to take a shower and then we can go."
Andromeda Tonks smiled tiredly at Molly Weasley as she ushered her into the kitchen.
"How are you holding up?" Andromeda asked as Molly sat down. With a practiced wave of her wand, Andromeda summoned some tea and biscuits from the counter.
Molly sighed. "I don't know. I just really wish I knew where my daughter was and what and how she is doing. I don't like to think that any of those articles are true, but I just don't know."
Andromeda nodded sympathetically. She and Molly had become close friends over the past year and she had listened to Molly's fears many times over the past few months.
"It is such a comfort that Minerva and Ginny's friends at school believe in her, but I still have a hard time getting past that article and those pictures," Molly explained.
"Still no word?"
"No, we haven't had any word from her since December. She said that she was safe, but that was when she was with Harry." Molly frowned as she thought of the boy she had thought of as almost one of her own. "I don't know how he could just leave her. I thought that he cared for her, but he just left her. If she did pose for those pictures, I blame him. If he hadn't left her, she would never have done it."
"Remus still won't listen to reason about him." Andromeda sighed. "He insisted upon naming the boy Teddy's godfather."
"How is Teddy?" Molly asked, changing the subject.
Andromeda smiled. "He is wonderful. He is such a good baby. It is such a joy to have a baby in the house again. I always wanted more children after Nymphadora, but it just wasn't meant to be."
Smiling, Molly pulled a baby blanket out of her bag. "I brought this for little Teddy."
Reaching out, Andromeda admired the blue and green knitted blanket. "Molly, it's beautiful. I'm sure Nymphadora and Remus will be thrilled."
Before Molly could reply, Tonks entered with her baby. "Morning, Molly. Mum."
"Good morning, dear." Molly smiled as the younger witch joined them at the table. "I just came by for a visit."
The three witches talked while passing the baby around. After a while, Molly asked, "Where is Remus?"
Tonks looked up. "Today is James's birthday. Remus went to visit him."
Remus smiled as he walked through the gate into the graveyard. He hadn't been able to visit on Lily's birthday, so he was glad he could make it for James's birthday. When they'd heard Molly arrive, Remus had taken the opportunity to leave. He and Molly disagreed on many things these days, Harry most of all. The way Molly saw it, Harry had ruined her daughter's life. Remus was sure there was another explanation. He couldn't explain it, but he couldn't imagine Harry abandoning Ginny.
The werewolf walked over to his friends' grave and gasped. He knelt down on the cold ground and ran his hand over the small grey stone. He knew right away that Harry must have arranged for the stone.
"Sirius, my friend, I'm glad to see you back with James and Lily. I've missed you, Padfoot."
Glancing around, Remus conjured up a small wreath to set on each of the graves before he settled back on the bench next to the Potters' grave.
"I wanted to let all of you know, I'm a dad. Can you believe that? His name is Teddy – Teddy Remus Lupin. He was born on March 10, so he is just over two weeks old."
Remus spent time telling them about the birth and the latest news from the Wizarding world. As he finished telling them about his run-ins with Molly, he heard the gate open. He made sure his wand was readily available. While he had run into the priest several times and had occasionally seen other people visiting graves, he couldn't forget that this was a Wizarding village and two of his best friends had lost their lives here.
He shot to his feet and turned to face the speaker. He relaxed slightly when he saw the priest standing not far from him.
"Good morning, sir," Remus cautiously greeted the older man.
Father Stephen smiled. "I was wondering if I might see you this morning."
Gesturing behind him towards the graves, Remus asked, "Did Harry arrange for Sirius's stone?"
"Yes, he was here on his mother's birthday and asked about the stone for his godfather," Father Stephen explained. He eyed the worn looking man he had come to appreciate for his devotion to his friends. "You actually just missed him. He and his wife were here for his father's birthday."
"What?" Remus looked startled. "Harry was here? When? Did he say where he was staying?"
"Why don't you come into my office?" Father Stephen offered. "We can talk there."
Remus eagerly followed the older man and soon they were settled in the church's office. Father Stephen offered Remus a cup of tea and pushed a basket of muffins towards him. "Harry brought these by for me this morning. They are quite good."
Helping himself to a muffin, Remus said, "What did you mean he and his wife?"
Father Stephen smiled. "I thought maybe they had eloped. His wife's name is Ginny. She is a pretty girl. She always seems to have a different colour hair every time I see her though. He said they married in January in York." He fell silent as he watched the other man absorb this information. "They seem very young, but very much in love."
Remus smiled. "I knew last Christmas he was very taken with her. He reminded me so much of his father."
"Did he say anything this morning?" Remus asked.
Reaching into his desk drawer, Father Stephen pulled out a sealed envelope that he handed to Remus. "He left this for you. I think he misses you very much. He…he is a very sweet boy. He was quite concerned that he had insulted you the last time you'd spoken and he was afraid you would be angry with him."
With a trembling hand, Remus took the proffered envelope. "He shouldn't be worried. He actually did me a favour and knocked some sense into me. I…I was in a bad place and he did just what his father would have done, yelled at me and told me what a mistake I was making."
Father Stephen stood. "I am going to check the chapel. Please take your time and read your letter. I will be around if you want to talk."
Once Father Stephen had closed the door, Remus eagerly tore open the envelope. There was what appeared to be a several page note as well as a single sheet of paper. Picking up the single sheet of paper, Remus read – 'You know the words.'
He picked up the larger folded note and realized it was blank. He stared at it for a moment, before a smile crossed his face. Pulling his wand, he tapped the note and said, "I solemnly swear I'm up to no good."
He smiled as the pages filled with writing.
March 27, 1998
Let me start by saying I am so sorry for what I said. I know you are not a coward. I was just angry and all I could see was my Dad dying for me and my Mum and Sirius falling through the veil. Dads shouldn't leave their children unless they don't have a choice. I hope you are back with Tonks. Ginny tells me she should have had the baby by now.
Ginny and I are safe for now. We are moving around a lot and changing our appearances – well actually Ginny is changing more than me, but we figured her hair is more memorable than mine so we are trying to cover it up.
I'm assuming you talked to Alicia and probably Ron and Hermione as well so you know what happened this fall. I was very upset for a while, but I have come to realize that it is for the best. I have been continuing on my mission left for me by Professor Dumbledore and with Ginny's help, it is almost complete. I hope to face Tom soon and finally end this. I hope that everyone realizes that Ginny did not do anything that has been reported in the papers and she certainly did not pose for those pictures. We assume it was Pansy using Polyjuice Potion, who was interviewed and photographed. Ginny has done absolutely nothing wrong. Malfoy and Zabini tried to kidnap her and turn her over to Voldemort. We don't know why – to use as leverage to get me or for other reasons of his own. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and was able to rescue her – I killed the Carrows by myself. She did not kill anyone. She has been very upset because she can't defend herself against all of the lies and she does not know how her family is taking all of the coverage.
We are really hoping that we can end this soon. We may be calling upon the rest of the Order to help, We really aren't sure what will happen.
I look forward to seeing you and Tonks and your baby.
Remus read through the letter twice. He really wasn't sure what to think. On the one hand, he was glad that Harry was safe and seemed happy. On the other hand, he wished Harry had let him know where he was staying. He was still contemplating the letter when Father Stephen came back.
"Did you get some of the answers you were looking for?" Father Stephen asked.
Remus shrugged. "I got some answers, but he didn't tell me where he was staying."
"I gather that they have been moving around frequently," Father Stephen replied. "I believe that from time to time they have been staying at his family home here. Sometimes he visits almost daily; other times it can be a few weeks between visits. I don't know where he is staying right now."
"You seem to have gotten to know him fairly well," Remus said, faintly jealous of the older man's apparently easy relationship with Harry. Remus had never been entirely happy with his own relationship to Harry. He knew that his fear of getting close to others had gotten in the way of the relationship. The werewolf had let his fears convince him that Harry was safe and happy with his relatives when he was a child. Even once he had gotten to know Harry, he was hesitant to deepen the relationship. When Sirius had returned, it was easier to step back and let Sirius have the larger relationship with Harry. After Sirius's death, Remus hadn't felt right trying to step into Sirius's shoes. The past year, he realized that he did want a closer relationship with Harry and he just hoped he hadn't ruined his chances.
Father Stephen smiled. He could sense the unspoken jealousy in Remus's statement. "Harry is an easy young man to love. He has a quality about him that makes me want to care for him. I don't know if it is because he is an orphan or if it is just him, but he just has a quality about him."
After thanking the priest for his time, Remus decided to take a walk by his friends' old home before heading back home. He felt a familiar feeling of sorrow welling up in him, but it was tempered with the knowledge that Harry at least was safe for the moment.
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