Chapter 3 : Gone, but Not Alone
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The wake was held at the Burrow, which Teddy found fitting considering he seemed to have spent most of his time either at the Weasley home or Shell Cottage. The guests, as he liked to think of them as it made it seem less morbid, spread themselves out among the house, they mostly occupied the garden and came into the kitchen every know and again for refreshments. Members of family seemed to take it in turns talking to everyone, Albus called it the polite thing to do, but they mostly stayed in the living room.
Louis sat in the middle of the couch, Teddy at his side. His gaze moved across the room, from left to right and back again, but he seemed to take nothing in. He wasn't watching, just staring blankly ahead, his expression passive; anyone else would wonder whether he was thinking of anything right at that moment. But those closest to him, those who really knew him, would know he was praying for the day to be over and not wanting to seem rude. Teddy knew and he couldn't exactly blame the man for thinking so.
He'd never seen the Burrow as such a depressing place before, had never thought he would, but it was and it was all for him. Sometimes he wished more than anything to turn back time, to make sure this day could never happen, but Teddy knew he could never have changed what he did; he would never have left that man to die. It was bad enough he was still in a coma. The attack on Ted had taken him and James by complete surprise, neither could ever have expected it or had been able to stop it. So most of the time he wished he would stop wishing to go back, because he could do nothing to change what happened to him and when he forced himself to think clearly he could see that.
Teddy knew his thoughts were only because of the man at his side, but he had to stop wishing. It was unhealthy for him to think in the past, to fill his mind with 'what if's, when he had to think about what to do now. He was dead, yes, he'd been to the funeral himself, but he was still here. That had to mean something and it had to be important. Didn't it?
Teddy had to know, he had to find out what was so important that he was still around, even if they couldn't see him. And he would start by making himself seen. If other ghosts could do it, then so could he. Even if the only person was Louis, he'd find a way. "I can't do this on my own," he called out to no one.
And no one answered. But one person did look up; Dom. Teddy knew because he'd been spending the day watching the man. Louis hadn't moved from the couch, hadn't eaten or even got up for a drink, and Teddy had stayed with him the entire time. Dom chose to sit across from them, Kieron by his side and without any drink of the alcoholic kind his family were used to seeing him with. Instead he drank juice and kept an eye on Louis. At least he thought so; sometimes he could've have sworn Dom had been looking right at him on more than one occasion. But that was impossible, right? No one could see him.
Dom averted his eyes just as quickly, moving closer to whisper to his friend, and Teddy turned his head slightly to his right. That way he could look at Louis while still keeping an eye on the enigma that was his older brother. "Dom is looking at you, right? Because I'm getting a really strange, rather stupid feeling that he can see me. And I kinda hope it's real." Louis sunk further back into the couch, his arms now folded over his chest and his eyes closed; he'd given up being polite. "Not a word, eh? Okay."
Teddy continued to watch Dom instead, barely interested in hearing what his father, Bill Weasley, was saying. "It'll be over soon, Louis. Then we'll go home."
"Home?" Louis asked tiredly.
"We want you to stay at Shell Cottage for a few days, your mum and I. We don't think you should be alone."
They were all surprised to find that Dom had gotten up and had made his way over, except Teddy who had been watching. "He's not alone. If Lou wants to stay at Shell Cottage, that's his decision. If he wants to go to his own home, I'll be there."
And for the first time Louis smiled. It was just a slight curve of the lips, barely noticeable unless you were looking for it, but it was there. "I want to go home."
"Just say when," Dom said quietly, holding out a cup. "Here, drink. It's juice," he said when Bill raised an eye-brow. Louis took it slowly and did as he was told. This was what Teddy was always proud of Dom for; he could get Louis to listen, even when he himself couldn't. Dom was there for him, he could look after his brother, get him through this. He'd been worried as they'd gotten older and Dom had acted strangely, especially with alcohol added. It had all come down to this moment and Teddy was pleased to see that he'd excelled his expectations.
"You picked a bad time to quit drinking, Dom," Louis sighed, just loud enough for people around them to hear. It took Teddy only a few seconds to understand that Louis had done so on purpose, for people to know something important about the man in front of them. Louis had always told them to give Dom more credit.
"Hardly, I stopped drinking months ago," Dom replied, obviously playing along. "Despite what people think, I don't have a problem and I know when to stop. And I haven't stopped to get better, I did it because it doesn't help me," he added when his dad tried to question him. "I don't know why I even bothered trying."
"Okay, now you've lost me." Teddy frowned, knew he was only voicing his opinions to deaf ears, but he honestly had no idea what Dom was talking about, hadn't been able to since he was a child talking about his imaginary friends. And it appeared he wasn't the only one; even Louis looked at his brother with an odd expression. It seemed they didn't talk about everything. But Dom only rolled his sad, blue eyes and shook his head, telling Louis to finish the juice while he got him something to eat.
"Ted would kill me if I didn't look after you," he muttered. Louis winced at his wording, although it was an old joke they'd heard many times. Dom didn't looked phased or sorry for how he'd said it. He just left, promising to be back in a minute.
"He's got a point. Well, I probably wouldn't kill him, just seriously injure," Teddy added, smiling. Then he frowned again. He pretended because things felt a little easier when he talked, but even dead and unable to be seen he thought the pretense made him out to be a little crazy.
Maybe I am going crazy...
When will this day be over?
Teddy wondered why everyone called them wakes; he could barely keep his eyes open.
He could hear his grandmother's words scolding him in his own head, telling him to have more respect for the dead and their families. But right then he didn't care. If he couldn't make light of his own situation, then he really would go crazy. Everyone had always said humor was never a good coping mechanism for him, but it was better than yelling like Fred did or throwing things like James. He could pretend Lily was laughing so hard tears were coming from her eyes, rather than her no longer being able to hide the fact that she was crying because Teddy was gone.
But not alone.
Not one person in the Weasley home was alone, they had each other. And they still had Teddy somehow, even if whatever had happened to him was only temporary. He wouldn't waste it if he could help it.
It was starting to grow dark when the guests shook hands with family members and started to leave. They'd had their day of grieving, they'd go back to their own lives tomorrow. One by one they left, until only the Malfoys were left behind. Draco and Astoria said good bye first, his second cousin making an effort not to look or sound as awkward as he must have felt, and waited at the door for his mother. Narcissa's and his grandmother's good bye was tearful, they're eyes were wet but neither let them fall, and Narcissa gave her condolences for her loss. With permission, Scorpius stayed behind with Lily.
As soon as they were gone, Louis got up from his position on the couch, stretched his stiff and aching muscles and muttered a good bye as he left. He stopped only to let his mother hug him and was out the door, Dom right behind him. Teddy wished he could apologize for the man's behavior and almost did when he realized they would never hear it. So, he followed behind until the brothers reached the end of the wards. They Apparated to Louis' apartment, unknowingly leaving Teddy alone at the end of the garden. He turned to the house one last time and wondered how long it would take his human-like, ghost form to walk to Louis', or if he could float there. The moment he thought of Louis' home, he was there, cutting short his thoughts of floating quickly.
Maybe next time.
He was alone in the living room, Teddy noticed after a moment. It was exactly how Louis had left it the week before; empty mugs were still on the coffee table, Louis' favorite spotty one and Ted's football mug; the DVD they'd watched the night before his 'accident' was open next to the mugs; the old quilt that they'd used to sit on the floor, had fallen asleep on and had thrown carelessly over the back was still on the couch. When Teddy turned, he could see empty bowls in the sink from their breakfast and his jeans on the floor of the bathroom were just noticable. The place looked like it hadn't been used in a week.
Because it hadn't.
After Teddy's death, Louis had stayed at the Burrow. His dad had been the one to come here and get anything he needed, like clothes. That was all he had done, obviously. It was the first night Louis had come home and he'd come to see week old memories of their last proper night together.
Things changed so fast.
Teddy walked to the other side of the table to look at the DVD case; as soon as he'd found out his grandfather was a Muggleborn, he become a little obsessed with all of their 'things', especially technology. He'd told Louis all about them as a child, teaching him new things as they'd come along. When Louis had gotten his apartment, Teddy had gotten him the DVD player. That become their thing. Louis had picked the DVD, one they'd seen too many times to count, about vampires and werewolves.
He looked up sharply when he heard the click of a closing door and watched Dom move away from Louis' bedroom. He stopped at the couch to throw his jacket and tie on top of the quilt and, untucking his shirt, went to the sink. He magically washed them and dried them, putting them away himself. His back was to Teddy the entire time, stiff like he was on guard.
"You are curious to watch, you know, Dom. The definition of an enigma. I honestly can't pinpoint what it is. It's interesting." There was silence for a whole two minutes, Teddy counted. Then, feeling like a complete idiot, he continued speaking. "You were amazing today, with Louis. I almost didn't believe you'd do this, help him. I know he's your brother, but you don't talk to your family much, so I wasn't sure. I'm glad you did, though, he needs -"
"Could you stop watching me, it's very unsettling," Dom interrupted, spinning around to face him. Then his eyes widened, like he couldn't believe he'd done something.
Spoken, Teddy's mind answered him through the shock.
"You," he whispered, finishing his sentence. "You can see me. How can you see me?"
The seconds ticked by in silence, each passing tick giving Dom more confidence until he became more like his usual, cocky self. He folded his arms over his chest. "I'm special," he snapped. His eyes went to Louis' bedroom and when he spoke again, he made sure to keep quiet. "I see the ghosts who are unable make their choice."
"Choice? Ghosts? Who knows about this?"
"Just Kieron," Dom muttered, his arms falling to his sides, almost like they were heavy. His eyes closed over and when he opened them again, Teddy thought he saw a tear escape. "I tried to tell my family, but you all said it was just my imagination running away with me. I stopped talking about it when my dad grounded me for mentioning -"
He stopped abruptly, but Teddy didn't need him to continue. He'd been there when it had happened, had had to stop Louis from running after Dom when he'd run up the stairs, screaming that he hated them. All because of a name.
"Fred," he said softly. "You could see Fred."
Dom nodded quickly and Ted thought back to that day and every day before and after that - Dom's imaginary friends, every time he'd been caught talking to himself, the moments he'd stared into space,his drinking when he'd gotten older. His eleventh birthday, when Teddy had overheard him wish he was normal and not told anyone. That was the worst.
"I'm so sorry, Dom."
The look on the man's face was clear: too little too late.
"I was seven years old when he did that, seven," Dom spat. "And you all made me feel like I was crazy. I started to think I was, that none of it was real, but it got worse. They kept coming. Drinking didn't help send them away, I couldn't block them out when I was drunk, so I stopped that. Nothing works. I'm stuck with it and I hate it. And now you're here." He stopped speaking, calmed himself down until he visibly looked relaxed. Or maybe he was just tired. "I'd love to walk into you as I storm past like I used to do, but I'll just walk right through you, so I'll just say night."
Dom walked away to the couch, not knowing that Ted's only coherent thought to his startling confession was that he was probably right this morning; if he'd sat next to Louis, someone would have just gone through him. Then he realized that he might have been wrong either way; Dom had sat in the place he'd moved away from and Dom could see him, he might have moved over.
Teddy shook his head; he had questions and a favor to ask. Teddy moved to kneel across from him, waited until Dom turned his head. He didn't pretend to be asleep, he eventually faced Ted.
"Did you ever see my parents?"
"No," Dom said softly, shaking his head. "They must have crossed over naturally."
Teddy sighed in relief and relaxed; he was glad. He wouldn't know what to do if they'd been around, speaking to Dom and listening to their son believe a little boy was imagining things like everyone else, ignoring him when he wanted to talk and focusing on school and friends. He had a hard enough time forgiving himself.
He asked his next question. "What did you mean when you talked about ghosts being unable to make their choices?"
"When people die, they end up in this void between worlds and they choose whether to cross over and go to heaven or wherever it is they go or stay as a ghost you can see," Dom yawned loudly. "Ghosts like you are stuck, half here and half in the void - which is why most people can't see you. You're here for a reason - for some it's to say good bye, for others it's justice, if they were killed, stuff like that - and you can't leave here and make your choice in the void until you've done what you have to do."
"How do you know what it is you have to do?"
"Give it a day or two, it'll come to you," Dom said, falling asleep.
"It's been a week," Ted snapped.
"Be patient," he snapped back.
Fine. "How do you know when it's time to go?" he asked instead.
That was all Dom was able to say before he started to snore softly, just once. Then he was silent, his breathing light. Teddy was alone for the night, but he could still be seen by someone. He hadn't asked his favor, but now that he knew about Dom, he could ask him in the morning.
This being dead business just got a little easier.
Now he just needed to figure out why he was still in the world of the living.
A/N: Finally got a new chapter out. It's been so long and I don't know if people are still reading, but if you are, I'd love to know what you think in a review. :)
The film being referred to is Underworld and belongs to Sony Pictures. Awesome series of films. :)
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