AN: For SamMalfoy93's What Makes Us Who We Are challenge and for Mihalli1432's Absolute Death challenge.
This is dedicated to Rachel. The quote in the summary is tweaked from the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty", of course. Please review!
Hot summer days spent at the lake beyond the Burrow stretched out before them. Victoire carried a picnic basket in her hand, a rug tucked beneath her arm, lagging behind
An alarm beeps beneath rugged mountains of discarded clothes, muffled by days of neglect and carelessness. He waits for the creak of the bed as she reaches for her wand and stifles the noise. Neither of them has slept properly for a week and they doubt anything will change soon. The alarm is a force of habit.
Teddy’s eyes flick blearily to the photograph on his bedside table, a morning reminder of the very evil in his heart. Forgetting is not an option. He closes his eyes again as Victoire rests a hand on his arm, her fingers fleetingly caressing him before she dresses for work and leaves him in his darkness. Thoughts of making the most of the time he has flit in and out of his conscious, but the curtains remain drawn and he will not shave for another three days.
Everything has changed and he is no longer the man he hoped for. Deep within him there is rot and damp, a darkness seeping from cell to cell and it won’t be long until it has consumed him. He can think of nothing else, images flashing before him as he replays that moment over and over, searching for a reason, an explanation, a scapegoat. But there is nothing there other than loathing and hatred and remorse.
Shuddering, he rolls over, taking the sheets with him as he sobs into his pillow.
He is not ready to face the world just yet, and as far as he is concerned the world will never be ready to face him.
her cousins as they ran ahead, racing each other to reach the shore. Teddy, Hugo and James had a large wooden canoe hoisted above their heads, a temporary
Summer was always spent in childish bliss. He was their leader, their guide, their king and he blossomed in his role. He led their gang with pride and spirit and they doted on him. When they were pirates, he was their captain and Victoire was his first mate, and they ran through the fields near the Burrow with wild childish abandon. Their imaginations were their limits.
He defended them from the motley children from the nearby village, crawling through barley to catch them and ward them off, fighting them with broken twigs and a heavy presence.
“Did you get them, Teddy?” They’d cry when he returned, victorious, grinning from ear to ear.
“I taught them a thing or two,” he’d reply, his chest puffed out and his posture straight. “They won’t dare bother us again.”
Except, of course, until the next day in a seemingly endless summer, when they’d be cops catching robbers or cowboys fighting Indians and they’d start all over again.
screen from the sunshine.
“Hurry up!” Molly called impatiently from the lakeside, her shoes already discarded as she dipped her toes in the cool water. “You’re like slow old ladies.”
His grandmother hugged him tight to her warm body as he cried, her gentle hands stroking his back.
“I don’t want to go,” he whispered, voice heavy with tears.
“Come now,” she scolded softly. “Where’s my brave Teddy gone? Where’s my rock? You’re just a little nervous, it’s natural. You’ll have a wonderful time, you’ll see.”
He shook his head, stepping back and wiping his eyes. “Why can’t you come with me?”
She chuckled. “I’m far too old for Hogwarts. It’s your turn now. Go and make your parents proud.”
Smearing the last tear away, Teddy nodded, looking around him properly for the first time at the bustling platform. “I will, I promise,” he said thickly.
“There’s a good boy,” his grandmother replied fondly. “Now, hurry, or you’ll miss the train.”
Teddy nodded again, looking over his grandmother’s shoulder to where his godfather stood, proudly waving goodbye. Waving in return, Teddy hauled his trunk onto the train, following shortly afterwards, dashing to the nearest window to blow kisses to his grandmother as the clock chimed eleven o’clock.
As the train pulled away from the station, he kept his eyes on his grandmother until she was long out of sight.
Victoire smiled at this comparison, Teddy turning round to sneak an amused glance at her. Almost all of them were beyond school holidays age, but summer traditions remained at the
“Teddy?” Victoire calls, her voice muffled by the layers covering his body.
He grunts in reply, sitting up and rubbing dirt from his eyes from leftover tears. As she enters the bedroom and sees his groggy features, she sighs sadly. Her expression is unseen by him; he focuses his gaze on the crumpled sheets and his grubby hands. Wordlessly, she kneels beside him on the bed and takes him in her arms, his ear pressed against her chest. He can hear her heartbeat thudding wildly inside her, expressing her fear more than her words could even attempt.
She trembles and he can no longer tell which tears are hers and which are his.
heart of their group.
When they reached the pebbled shore, Victoire spread the rug out and watched as the boys began to lower the canoe into the shallows.
“Aren’t you going to chase me?” Rose snapped impatiently, watching bemusedly as Teddy flopped onto the grass, exhausted and sweaty.
“It’s too hot,” he panted, squinting in the sun as she loomed over him.
“But you promised!” she whined, nudging his leg with her foot. “You never break your promises.”
“I know,” he responded, wiping the perspiration from his forehead. “But can’t one of the others play with you?”
Rose huffed, sitting on his legs stubbornly. “They’re playing Quidditch,” she said scornfully.
“Why don’t you join them?”
“I can’t play, stupid,” she said hotly, as if he had offended her by the mere suggestion. “I offered to referee but they said I couldn’t.”
“Who’s ‘they’?” Teddy asked mildly, sitting up and shaking her off his legs.
“James and Fred,” she said, her bottom lip trembling. “Can you go and tell them to let me play?”
Ruffling his hair, Teddy stood up and pulled her up with him. “I suppose so,” he said with a pretend sigh.
Rose grinned, tossing her bushy hair over her shoulder and dragging him towards the field where her cousins were attempting to fly on old brooms. When they saw Teddy approaching them with Rose in tow, the six children dismounted their brooms and looked sheepish.
“It looks like you need a referee,” Teddy observed politely. “Would you mind if Rosie here could have a go?”
The children looked guiltily between themselves, nobody willing to speak up.
“Sure,” Albus piped up eventually, pushing his glasses higher up his nose. “Come here, Rose.”
Rose beamed up at Teddy, sticking her tongue out at James and Fred when she thought he’d turned away again.
Satisfied, Teddy retreated into the cool of the Burrow and left them to settle their disputes amongst themselves.
“I’m going for a swim,” Dominique called as she began to strip down to her swimsuit. Both Fred and Louis followed her lead, wading into the lake’s water and dipping below the surface.
Some time later, Victoire takes Teddy’s face in her hands and forces him to face her.
“I know it’s hard,” she whispers, stroking his jaw gently. “It’s not easy for any of us. But we’ll get through this, I know we will.”
He can’t find the words to respond, so he says nothing, again, wondering when he’ll ever find the strength to speak again.
“Trust me,” she says softly, kissing his lips gently. He feels nothing except a numb horror and disbelief. How can he believe the words she says when everything inside him screams the opposite?
His eyes dart towards the photo in the frame once again.
Teddy helped Roxanne and Rose into the canoe, paddling in the direction of the swimmers, hoping to catch them before they reached the next beach, around a rocky corner. It became
“Teddy, wake up!”
Groaning, Teddy felt his bed dip as Victoire perched herself by his midriff. She shook his shoulders forcefully, refusing to let him roll over and go back to sleep.
“Bugger off,” he grumbled. He blinked a few times, clearing his vision and glanced at the clock; it was only seven o’clock on a Saturday morning.
“Come on, lazy bones, it’s your birthday. You have to get up now,” Victoire insisted, pulling the covers away from him. A cool breeze brought goosebumps to his arms.
He fought with her briefly to try and reclaim his duvet, but she won in the end, dragging it to the other side of the room and grabbing him by the wrist. Sighing, he realised that even if he was not so excited at the prospect of turning seventeen, she clearly was and he would have to humour her. He let Victoire pull him downstairs to the Gryffindor common room, where a collection of Weasleys were waiting for him.
“Happy Birthday to You!” They started to sing, holding out a cake for him, each red-head clad in a party hat and grinning widely.
“I’m in time for breakfast, I see,” Teddy joked as a tiny Molly, in her first year, pushed the cake across the table towards him so he could blow out the candles.
“Make a wish!” Dominique said as he blew them all out in one puff.
“A wish?” he repeated, trying to think of something he could wish for.
“But don’t tell us what it is,” Molly said, glaring at him with menace.
Teddy winked at Victoire and beamed. “Don’t worry, I won’t.”
Victoire looked away, a blush creeping slowly up her cheeks.
an enthusiastic race, one which ended in a victory for the canoe. The three swimmers allowed themselves to be pulled up into the boat, grabbing an oar each so they
“Another bad dream?” His grandmother whispered as he stood in the doorway.
“The same one,” he responded, his young voice fragile and frightened.
He crept towards her bed, where she sat up and patted the space beside her. “You tell me all about it, then you won’t have it again.” She said this every time he woke in the middle of the night from nightmares, but he was beginning to understand that she wasn’t right about everything all the time.
“They’re not coming back, are they?” he asked timidly after a while, trying best to phrase his fear. She always waited patiently for him to voice his concerns, understanding that it took him time to talk.
“I’m afraid not, sweetheart,” she told him, holding his little hand in hers. “Remember what I always tell you, Teddy. They wanted you to have a safe world for you to grow up in. They wanted you to be happy.”
The little boy nodded. “I keep dreaming that they’re not really gone.”
It hurt to admit it, as though it was a weakness of his, that it showed he was immature when he felt so much older than all the other children he knew. He understood his parents were dead, he knew why but his dreams and nightmares betrayed him and it was at times like this that he felt so small and alone.
“I know, pumpkin,” his grandmother said, her own voice small in the darkness. “But they’re still in your heart. That’s where they’ll always be, whenever you need them. You only have to ask.”
could return to the picnic.
As they headed towards the rocks, Fred stood up. “I bet I can beat you back to the shore,” he declared, abandoning his oar.
There was a loud knock at the door, disturbing Teddy’s concentration on his paperwork. Setting the parchment aside, he opened the door to his office and let in his visitor.
Fred stood nervously at the door, dressed in his work robes. “Hi Ted,” he said quickly. “Sorry to intrude.”
“It’s not a problem,” Teddy said, retreating to his desk and gesturing towards the chair opposite him for Fred to sit in. “How can I help?”
Fred was twiddling his fingers anxiously, looking over to the closed door occasionally. “I need a bit of advice.”
“You’ve not done anything illegal, have you?” Teddy hesitated, wondering what had caused Fred to get into such a state.
“No, no,” Fred amended hastily. “Nothing like that. I’m going to ask Cat to marry me.”
Teddy raised his eyebrows, finding himself smiling despite his scepticism. Fred and Cat had only been together for about a year. “That’s wonderful,” he said, trying to keep his tone warm.
“Yeah,” Fred said, letting out a long breath. “I’m terrified. How do I know she won’t say no?”
Teddy grinned. “You don’t.”
“But weren’t you nervous when you proposed to Victoire?”
He shrugged, trying to remember. That had been two years ago now. “Of course I was. But it was worth it just in case she did
Fred nodded, checking his watch. “Thanks, Teddy. You’re a rock.” He bid him goodbye, closing the door behind him.
Teddy rolled his eyes at this display and sighed. “If you must.”
When he wakes the next morning he is acutely aware that he is not alone. He manages to move for what is the first time in days, gingerly throwing back the sheets and shrugging on a jumper. He ignores his reflection in the mirror and shuffles into the kitchen.
His grandmother, elderly and frail, waits for him at the table. “Victoire wrote to me,” she says by way of greeting.
“She worries too much,” he croaks, pouring himself a glass of water and staring out of the window. He doesn’t dare face her for fear of seeing his guilt reflected in her eyes.
“You’re a mess,” she barks harshly. “You can’t carry on like this, Teddy.”
He swivels to face her, his hands clasping the glass so tightly he might crush it accidentally. “What would you have me do?” he rasps. “Nothing will bring him back.”
“I know that,” she concedes, watching him warily as he sinks into the chair opposite her. “But you can’t hide from everyone. They need you as much as you need them.”
“The last thing they need is me,” he snaps bitterly.
“You can’t deal with this on your own.” Shaking her head, she reaches for his hand across the table and squeezes it. “Listen to me. You’re only making things worse.”
He frowns. “How can that be possible? There’s nothing worse than this.” He swallows the lump in his throat and forbids the tears from falling. He will not succumb to the monster inside.
“If you think this is bad, just imagine how they feel.”
The canoe wobbled as Fred launched himself into the water, pointing himself towards the beach. His limbs stretched out in front of him, his spine curved as his fingers
“You’re jealous,” she accused, pointing her finger at Teddy’s bemused face.
“I am not
!” he denied, feeling irrationally angry with her. “You’re free to snog whoever the hell you like.”
Victoire narrowed her eyes, tossing her long blonde hair over her shoulder huffily. “Don’t even bother trying to lie to me. I know you far too well.”
He lowered his eyes to the textbook in his lap, struggling not to glower at her. “I’m not jealous,” he insisted, keeping as calm as he could. He was just being a bit protective, that was all. He cared about Victoire, just like he cared for her cousins; it was his job to prevent jerks like Ian Davies from hurting her.
“Right,” she said hotly. “I get it. You’re just looking out
for me. Well, thanks but no thanks. I can look after myself.”
Teddy rolled his eyes as she stormed out of the common room. He was tiring of her temper these days, especially where he was concerned. She probably couldn’t wait for next year, when he left Hogwarts forever and she could kiss anybody she pleased without his ‘interference’, as she called it.
“You should just ask her out, you know,” said a knowing voice from the stairs. He looked around to see Dominique leaning against the archway. “She’s only doing this to make you jealous.”
“I’m not jealous,” Teddy said again, frowning as Dominique chuckled.
“Whatever,” she said with a grin. “Just remember: I told you so.”
met the water first, followed by his body. Teddy watched over the side, clutching the canoe tightly for support as Fred veered towards the rocks.
“Will you read me a story?” He stifled yawn, settling down into his bed as his grandmother reached for the book beside his bed.
“We’ve only got time for one.” Opening 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' to the contents page, she looked back at her grandson. “Which tale would you like to hear?”
“The one about the three brothers,” he responded eagerly, leaning forward to listen with rapt attention as his grandmother began to tell the story all over again.
It was the same every night; he only ever wanted to hear about the brothers who attempted to conquer Death. Dreams of stones and ghosts would follow, feeding his imagination with impossible scenarios and happy endings that disappeared as soon as daylight came.
“Fred?” Louis called, peering over the side.
Fred’s dark form was a blur against the ripples of the water, slowly getting larger as he surfaced. “That was close,” he grinned, bobbing with the ripples. “Give me a hand, will you?”
He finds the strength to wash and shave himself. He scrabbles about in the back of his wardrobe in search of clean clothes, managing to make himself look more presentable. The shadows under his eyes remain.
It takes him a good half an hour to brave stepping outside of his flat, where he is greeted with unsympathetic good weather. He shields his face from the sunlight with his hand and loosens a button on his shirt. The sun warms his skin, but inside he is still cold.
When he reaches his destination, he lifts a shaking hand to ring the doorbell. It takes him three attempts and even then he starts when he hears the sound beyond the front door.
His weary godfather pulls the door open, eyes widening in surprise when he recognises the visitor.
“Teddy,” he says mildly. “Come in.”
Teddy follows him inside the house, eyes fixed firmly on his feet as Harry leads him into the kitchen.
“Would you like a drink?” Harry asks, hand hovering over the kettle. “Tea or coffee?”
Teddy shakes his head, starting to feel nauseous. “No,” he manages to say through dry lips. “Thank you.”
His godfather nods, his glasses slipping down his nose and hair falling out of place. He doesn’t correct either fault, instead watching his godson sadly. “How are you?”
It isn’t just polite conversation; he is sincere and the concern runs deep. His beady eyes search Teddy’s face for emotion, for feeling, for something.
Teddy opens his mouth to speak but finds there are no words that will suffice.
Harry nods again, smiling weakly. “I know. It’s hard.”
Teddy grimaces and fixes his eyes on the plant pot by the window. “It hurts.”
He closes his eyes, the dull ache in his heart growing unbearably stronger as his godfather rests his hand briefly on his shoulder in consolation. It is a gesture too small for the occasion, but Harry has never been a man for grand displays of emotion. It wouldn’t have been enough, anyway.
“It wasn’t your fault, Teddy,” Harry says softly as Teddy turns to leave. “Nobody blames you.”
Shaking his head, anger rattles inside him. Tears sting the corners of his eyes. “I do.”
Teddy leant forward, steadying the canoe before extending his hand towards Fred, who took it as Teddy tried to pull him up. There was a still moment before both he and Fred realised what was happening; Fred’s hand, wet and slick from
The air, cold and crisp, clung to his coat as he stood before his parents’ graves. The sadness never left him, even though two decades had passed without them and his annual visit had become habit. This was the first year he had faced them alone, his grandmother feeling too ill to make the journey. It was Christmas Eve and somewhere, in someone’s heart, an excitement for Christmas Day was building. Perhaps in another life he would have been excited too.
He laid a wreath at the foot of each grave, a grimace keeping the tears at bay as he wished and wished with all his being that things could have been different. The familiar discontent rose within him, the sense of injustice that of all the people the war had to take it was his parents. He needed them. He didn’t care for thoughts of peace; any life was better with them in it.
the water, slid through Teddy’s grasp in mid-air and he fell backwards towards the rocks.
“Fred!” Teddy called, watching in horror as
“I don’t like surprises,” Victoire chastised him as he led her through a shaded wood.
“You’ll like this one,” he promised, relishing the feel of her smooth palm in his. Her delicate fingers attempted to pry free, but he held her fast. “Trust me.”
Sighing, she allowed him to guide her deeper into the wood, trailing her free hand through tall stems of lavender and overgrown wildflowers. The floral scent trailed behind them, pollen glistening in rare patches of sunlight.
When he kissed her for the first time, he felt the surprise in the grasps of her fingers. Her lips scolded him until he felt truly remorseful. Then she forgave him with her touch and caresses until he forgot who was who and how they had arrived in the shaded meadow.
“I’ve always trusted you,” she whispered, her hand resting on his cheek.
bone and rock clashed.
He thought little of his actions as he slipped into the water beside Fred, attempting to grab any part of his
“We have to go,” she says sadly, watching him fiddle with his robes yet again. His hand slips and he sighs to himself.
“I’m not ready.” The words sound pathetic to his ears but she understands.
“None of us are.” She strides over to where he stands in front of the mirror, looping her arms around his waist and leaning into him. “We’ll go together.”
She takes his hand in hers and doesn’t let go even as they arrive at the church. Her touch is ineffective at soothing him, his trembling almost nauseating to watch. His breathing is sharp and shallow, and he hopes that he can make it through the service without passing out.
The family are clustered around the door to the building, fanning themselves in the summer heat. He is disgusted at nature, for allowing the day to be so amiable when inside him hurricanes wage war on his emotions. There could at least be some rain.
He is silent for the rest of the day, avoiding the stares of the family as he wears his shame on his sleeve. He has no right to be there, and without Victoire he would never have gone. It would be better for all if he vanished from their lives and let them live with their grief away from his.
The name on the gravestone is cursed, a scar healed and then torn open by his failure. It is all his fault.
body he could. He could hear Roxanne’s terrified cries, sounding strangely distant above the water.
When they reached the shore, it was already
He finds himself kneeling before his parents, hands clenching the earth with all his might as angry tears flow down his cheeks. Every time he closes his eyes he can see her uncle’s distraught face; the image is scarred into his mind and he cannot shake it.
“How could you leave me?” he demands, his eyes fixed shut as he remembers all the wrongs he has done. The air is silent around him, except for the cawing of a crow he has startled with his outburst. “I need you here.” He clutches at his heart, dry mud crumbling down his chest. “I need you now
He cannot think straight for his frustration, the grief of losing his parents fresh as if it were happening all over again. He has lost enough for a lifetime, but he feels the keen hand of punishment yet again.
All he wants is safety for him and for those he loves. But he has failed and will never be able to forget it. Anger will not bring any of them back.
Anger will not bring Teddy back.
too late. Fred Weasley was dead.