When they arrived at their destination, Remus’ cottage was just in sight. As they drew nearer, they saw Sirius burst out the front door, quickly followed by Remus and Mad-Eye. Coming to the front gate, Sirius stood there with arms folded and watched them approach. His looked furious.
“Brace yourself ‘Mione, dung’s about to fly,” Ron muttered.
Harry thought that was quite the understatement, especially given the expression on Sirius’ face. Taking a deep breath, Harry remembered to keep his temper, not wanting to give Sirius the satisfaction of an argument.
“Where the hell have you three been?” he demanded, opening the gate and stepping onto the street. “You’ve been gone for hours!”
“I know,” Harry said meekly, looking over Sirius’ shoulder to Remus. His expression was worse than Sirius’, his hands deep in his pockets as he watched the scene unfold. He was clearly upset, making Harry feel rather shameful for what they had done. “But we’re alright.”
“Alright?” Sirius shouted incredulously, clenching his hand in his hair as Harry came to a halt a few feet away from him. “Have you looked at yourself? What did you do to your arm?”
“I fell over, I landed on it funny,” Harry explained, not completely lying.
“And what about the Horcrux?” he demanded. “What do you suppose you were going to do with it by yourselves?”
“It’s gone!” Harry retorted hotly. “We got rid of it.”
“You got-” Sirius began, cutting himself off with a loud growl of frustration. “What the bloody hell did you do?” he demanded, looking to Ron and Hermione.
“We destroyed it!” Harry shouted, forgetting all about his temper. “That’s what we do these days, it’s not the first one we’ve done!”
“So you just take off, do you?” Mad-Eye intervened, stepping forward as his large blue eye rolled precariously. “You lot were part of a team, a team that puts themselves in danger to be at your disposal.”
“I know that,” Harry said, trying to explain. “But it was better this way. If we told you we were going to do it by ourselves, would you have let us?”
“No way in hell!” Sirius answered, shaking his head before moving towards Harry. “It’s not safe! You shouldn’t have taken off.”
Harry moved out of his way, glancing back to Ron and Hermione as he slipped past Sirius and Mad-Eye. “It was too dangerous to have you all there. You could have been hurt,” he explained, thinking about the falling trees. It was sheer luck that the three of them hadn’t been crushed. If there were more people there, luck wouldn’t have served them all.
“Too dangerous?” Sirius questioned furiously. “I’ll tell you what’s dangerous!”
“We’re not little children, Sirius,” Harry said loudly, pushing open the front gate and making his way down the path. “We know what we’re doing.”
“Do you really, Harry?” Sirius asked, following him.
Harry stopped dead in his tracks, looking through the open front door. Severus Snape stood inside the living room, talking quietly with Tonks and Kingsley. He stood side on to Harry, and in that moment he turned away from his conversation and looked at him. He considered Harry for a long moment, his lips pressed into a thin line before he turned away, looking back to Tonks and giving a small nod.
“What the hell is he doing here?” Harry said quietly, knowing Sirius was right behind him. Turning around, he raised his voice. “Sirius! What the hell is he doing here?”
“Looking for you! You’ve been missing for hours.”
Looking at Snape again, Harry roughly pushed past Sirius and headed back to Ron and Hermione, who were also looking through the open door. “Get him out of here,” he instructed Sirius.
“Harry, just come in, please. Hear him out.”
“No!” Harry said, following Ron and Hermione as they marched back out the front gate and onto the street. Whirling around, he clutched Draco Malfoy’s wand in his hand, resisting the need to raise it to Sirius. “Get him out of here, now.”
“Wait just a minute,” Sirius implored him, trying to catch up to him. “He’s here to help, he’s been helping us look for you all night!”
“Get him out of here,” Harry shouted, knowing what he needed to say. “Get him out, or we are gone! I’m not kidding, we’ll go right now, and you won’t hear from us again.”
“Harry, just listen, please,” Sirius pleaded, looking back to Remus and Mad-Eye for support.
Ron and Hermione came to stand by his side, Hermione holding out her arm for them to hold onto. They stood there clutching Hermione’s arm, threatening to disappear.
“You found us by accident before, I guarantee you won’t find us at all this time,” Harry said lowly, breathing hard. “You know I’ll do it.”
Sirius swore loudly, looking as though he wanted to throw himself at the three of them, but Remus quickly intervened.
“That’s not necessary, Harry,” he said calmly, raising his hand to show surrender. “I’ll have him leave right now.”
Harry didn’t say anything, but neither he nor Ron let go of Hermione’s arm. Remus walked back inside, and Harry could just make out his outline through the window as he spoke to the room at large. Snape was still in there, his arms folded as he nodded slowly. He disappeared from sight, and listening carefully, Harry could hear the sound of apparition a moment later.
“He’s gone,” Remus declared, coming back outside. “Will you come back in now?”
Looking only at Remus, Harry gave him a short nod. Remus and Mad-Eye visibly relaxed, both of them shaking their heads as they turned around and went back inside, leaving Harry, Ron and Hermione to deal with Sirius.
“Why don’t you two go inside,” Sirius suggested shortly. “Harry and I need to talk.”
Harry gave them both a short nod, releasing Hermione’s arm and allowing them both to go inside. Cupping his splint with his good arm, Harry watched as Sirius took a step back, allowing some space to come between them. He waited until he heard the front door closing before he began.
“Are you and I going to keep carrying on like this?” he asked evenly, actively working to keep his own temper in check.
“That depends,” Harry answered. “Are you going to keep treating me like a child?”
Sirius clenched his jaw, holding back the words he really wanted to say. “You’re acting like a child, Harry. How else am I supposed to treat you? You can’t just take off like that! We didn’t know what had happened to you. What if you’d really been hurt?”
“I don’t need to be looked after, I don’t need to be told what I can and can’t do. You don’t trust me to know what I’m doing.”
Blanching, Sirius was visibly hurt by this. “What did I do to break that trust?”
Harry could think of a number of things. “You used to trust me, but now you just want to wrap me up and shut me away, because of what? Because Lucius Malfoy tortured me, and now I’m your sad little godson who needs protecting? You’ve gotta get over it,” he said sharply, moving past him and heading towards the house.
“Get over it?” Sirius questioned, catching Harry’s good arm and gently pulling him to a stop. “That’s not going to happen. You don’t understand, you’re not a father. What happened to you is not something that can be forgotten about. Maybe you don’t care, but someone else does.”
Holding his breath, Harry looked straight ahead, avoiding Sirius’ gaze. He knew Sirius’ protectiveness would only get worse, that he would keep trying to make sure Harry stayed out of harm’s way. Harry had long ago come to accept that he would have to put himself in danger, that he might even die trying to do what Dumbledore had asked. If Sirius couldn’t accept that, something had to be done.
Wrenching his arm out of Sirius’ grasp, he started towards the door. “You’re not my father,” he said, making sure Sirius could hear him loud and clear.
“Oh, no? I have an adoption certificate that says otherwise!”
“Leave me alone!”
He didn’t look back, opening the front door and closing it behind him. Breathing a sigh of relief, he knew Sirius would be hurting from his comment. It was not the first time Harry had said that to him, trying to create some much needed space between them. Swallowing thickly, Harry quickly composed himself under the scrutiny of the people watching him, knowing they were wondering what had happened. Kingsley and Mad-Eye were gone, Ron and Hermione already making up the fold out couch so that they could get some sleep. They looked at him sympathetically.
“Come here,” Tonks said, ushering him into the kitchen. She steered him to sit down at the table, where she removed the sling and splint. “How did you do this?”
“I fell over,” he replied quietly.
“No, how did you really do this?”
“I fell over,” he repeated, wincing as she touched the tender skin. It was bruised, but didn’t appear too swollen. “It must have been pretty hard.”
Tonks nodded in agreement, still unsure of whether or not she quite believed him. Taking his elbow in one hand and his palm in the other, she carefully straightened his arm to her satisfaction, apologising when he clenched his other fist in pain. “You’re lucky Hermione’s good with a splint, there’s not much swelling,” she commented, healing the break with a tap of her wand. “The break was only small, but it was the same place as before.”
“Is that not good?” he asked.
“No,” she said, getting up and opening a cupboard. She produced a flask of the potions he had been drinking when he had returned from the Malfoys. “You need to drink some more strengthening potion, some weight on you wouldn’t hurt either.”
He nodded slowly, drinking what she poured for him and thanking her gratefully. “Where’s Remus?”
“He left with Kingsley and Mad-Eye. They’re setting up Draco and Narcissa Malfoy in protection.”
“Protection?” Harry said, his eyebrows raised. Personally he thought they deserved a cage.
“It’s the polite way of saying that they’re being held in confinement.”
“Where are they?”
“I’m not sure,” she said. “The less we know, the better. They’ve already been interrogated, not that they know much. They still don’t know Snape’s involved.”
“He’s the one who got us in there, isn’t he,” Harry said very quietly, looking into the lounge room where Ron and Hermione were listening in.
“Yes, he is,” Tonks said shortly, now setting the kettle to boil. “Do you want coffee?”
“No, thanks,” Harry muttered, getting to his feet wearily. “I’m going to bed.”
Tonks nodded. “Ginny’s just gone to bed herself.”
Harry quickly checked in with Ron and Hermione, sharing a tired smile before slipping back off to the room he shared with Ginny. He didn’t bother knocking, just opening the door and slipping inside to where Ginny sat waiting. He was unsurprised to see that she was still wearing the clothing she had worn yesterday.
“You’ve been up all night?” he confirmed quietly, already slipping out of his clothes and searching for clean pyjama pants.
“I was waiting for you,” she replied equally quiet. Seeing his intentions, she too got to her feet and rummaged around her clothing, which was strewn across the floor.
They dressed in silence, Harry locking the bedroom door before he sank down in the bed next to Ginny, sighing as his head hit the pillow. With a grim smile, she plucked his glasses from his nose and set them on the bedside table, running her hand across the left side of his face. He flinched slightly, but was content enough to allow her to run her hand across his skin, assessing the damage. Closing his eyes, Harry moaned when she took his left arm in her hands and gently rubbed, soothing the residual ache.
“Harry,” Ginny said quietly, coaxing him back from sleep.
“Hmm,” he sighed, rubbing his eyes. He was so tired, but he knew that she had questions, and she deserved to hear them after sitting up the entire night to wait for him. “What is it?”
She was brushing his hair back now, pressing a gentle kiss to his cheek. “Did you find what you were looking for? No one’s told me anything.”
With a short groan, he pushed himself up onto his elbow and pinched the bridge of his nose, nodding as he began to feel more awake. “Yeah, Fred found it.”
“Was it where you thought it was?”
Harry hesitated, his first instinct being to say no. But he didn’t want to complicate his answers, doing so would only keep him up longer. “Yeah, in Malfoy Manor. But it’s gone now…that’s where we disappeared off to all night.”
“Well I knew everyone was furious with you, looking high and low across the country. They thought you’d done a runner.”
“No,” Harry groaned, settling back down onto the mattress. Clasping Ginny’s hand, he squeezed it. “We agreed to stick together.”
With a chaste kiss, Ginny too settled down to lay beside him, hauling the blankets up higher over the both of them. With her warm breath against his neck, Harry was sleeping almost instantly, his body desperate to catch up to all that he had missed. Even though it was two weeks ago, he still felt like his body was adjusting and catching up on the days he had been deprived of proper sleep, and he still found himself constantly waking for no reason.
“You’re completely unstable!” Hermione screamed at him, her face morphing in and out of focus as someone shoved him hard from behind.
“Bad luck Malfoy didn’t actually drown you!” Ron snarled.
The piercing scream of the Horcrux took over Ron and Hermione’s shouting, and Harry was falling again. Snape was there…he had pushed him this time, of that Harry was sure. He felt his body hitting the ground hard, the earth trembling with the force of falling trees, Harry scrambling out of their path just in time.
“You’re not my father,” he said coldly.
“Harry! Harry, wake up!”
Opening his eyes, Harry panicked when he saw Ginny hovering over him, and he pushed her aside as he sat bolt upright in the bed. Confusion clouded him now, and he couldn’t quite understand what was going on. He could hear Ginny behind him, talking to him softly, but Harry was more focused on catching his breath, which had vanished and been replaced by his stuttering heart. Tight with fear, Harry put his hand against his chest, horrified when he felt hot tears spilling from his eyes.
He was still half asleep as Ginny drew him to lay against her chest, and she held him tightly as she brushed her fingers through his hair, talking to him quietly. Her touch was soothing as he finally managed to catch his breath, only to hold it against the sobs that threatened to escape him. Covering his face with his hand, he turned away from her gaze, embarrassed from having lost control. He was coming round now, waking up properly as he realised he had only been dreaming yet again.
“Sorry,” he said a few minutes later, finally trusting himself to talk. He swallowed heavily, finally taking his hand away from his face to slip it under her shirt. Splaying his fingers across her belly, he tried to think of something other than his dream.
“It’s okay,” she soothed, kissing the top of his head.
Very slowly, she put her fingers under his jaw, tipping his face back up. He looked at her reluctantly, relieved when she kissed him. Her kiss was deep and lush, opening her mouth to him as she clasped his face in her hands, not letting him pull away. Her touch was just what he needed to banish the remainder of his nightmare, making his heart pound for an entirely different reason. Moving to sit up a little, Harry froze as sharp pain pierced through his back, making him gasp and tense up.
“Are you sore?” she asked in concern, gently releasing him from her hold.
Flinching, Harry lay back down where he was and reached for her, bringing her face closer so he could kiss her again. “Just a little.”
“Where?” she persisted, sitting up on her elbow to look him over.
He groaned at the loss of contact. “Everywhere.”
Ginny tutted to herself, shaking her head as she sat up properly and put her hand on the top of his shoulder. “Roll over,” she instructed. “Onto your front.”
He didn’t question her, carefully rolling over and settling his head onto his arms, still watching her. She carefully trailed her finger tips over the unmarked skin on his back, instantly making him think of Lucius Malfoy. He tensed again, and she noticed.
Pressing her palms flat onto his skin, she knelt over the back of his legs and leant down to kiss the centre of his back. “Where does it hurt the most?”
“Mhmm, my shoulders,” he groaned, feeling her splay her hands across each shoulder blade.
“Here?” she asked, applying some gentle pressure. Though there were healing wounds beneath her hands, she was careful not to hurt him.
“A little higher,” he said, his eyes drifting shut lazily as she applied hard pressure. The tension in his shoulders decreased, and he could feel his muscles relaxing as she dug her fingers in kindly, working out the stress of the injury. “That feels good.”
“What about here?” she asked, just as he began to fall asleep. She placed her hands just below his shoulder blades now, pressing gently against his ribs.
“Not so much.”
“Here?” she tried again, placing her hands on the back of his hips. Applying more gentle pressure, he began to feel the shooting pain. There was a bruise on his left side, and he could only deduce that he had landed that way when the horcrux had thrown them back. Where she had her hands now hurt the most.
“Yeah, that really hurts,” he said, squirming beneath her.
“Okay,” she said, moving her hands ever so slightly inward towards his tailbone and pressing down. The pressure she exerted was soothing at first, but soon began to highlight the discomfort he had felt before, sharp bolts of pain reaching deep inside. Her pressure only increased, and just as he was about to stop her, the pain escalated before suddenly stopping. A strange crackling sensation rippled across his lower back, making him turn his face into his pillow and moan.
“Ohmygod,” he moaned, his entire body relaxing into the mattress like jelly.
He could hear Ginny chuckling from above him, her fingers beginning a gentle massage of the affected area. “I used to do this to Dad all the time when I was little. He’d come home from work, and Ron and I would walk across his back for him.”
“Ah huh,” Harry managed, her gentle massage sending him straight back to sleep.
He woke in the same position he had fallen asleep in, feeling strangely well rested. He stayed where he was for as long as he could, dimly noting that Ginny was no longer beside him. Cracking his eyes open, he took note of the light streaming in from beneath the closed curtains, and when he finally mustered the will power, he rolled over and searched the bedside table for his borrowed watch. Clumsily grasping it, he rubbed his eyes as he tried to read the time, relenting and going in search of his glasses also.
Slipping them on, he read that it was just after two o’clock, meaning that he hadn’t slept the entire day through. Sitting up, he looked around the room to confirm that he really was alone, finally throwing back the blankets and finding some fresh clothing. He dressed slowly, rolling his neck around and wondering if Ginny could fix that discomfort too. His back and shoulders felt as though the last two weeks had never happened, knowing that his muscles had already endured a lot when he spent three days hanging with his hands over his head.
Entering the bathroom, Harry brushed his teeth and considered shaving, knowing that Ginny secretly loved it when he pressed his rough cheek against hers. He settled for washing his face instead, the water stinging his cuts and grazes. Closing the bathroom door as he stepped out, Harry listened carefully, hearing Teddy awake in the main bedroom. He didn’t cry exactly, perhaps giving a soft whimper of discontent. He wondered whether or not he should go in to him, but on second thought he left him alone.
Wandering into the kitchen, he found Ginny sitting at the table.
“Hey,” he greeted her softly, ignoring the sound of Ron’s snores from the living room. Standing behind her, he brushed her hair back off her shoulder and kissed her neck.
“Hey,” she replied, kicking out the chair beside her. “I heard you getting up, so I made you something to eat.”
“Thanks,” he said gratefully, feeling famished as he accepted the plate of toast and mug of coffee.
“You enjoy that coffee,” she said sternly. “I had to boil the water the Muggle way.”
“Oh no,” he said in mock horror, moaning as he took a sip. “It’s perfect, thank you.”
“I don’t know how you can drink it like that, it’s so strong.”
“I don’t need sugar, I’m sweet enough,” he teased.
She scoffed playfully at this.
“So where is everyone?” he asked, looking around. Only Ron was accounted for, still sprawled out on the fold out couch, asleep.
“Tonks and Hermione are outside, doing something in the gardens I think. Oh that reminds me,” she muttered, getting up. “I told Tonks I’d get Teddy up.”
He caught her arm as she went to move past him, and he pulled her down far enough to kiss her. “Thank you,” he said quietly.
She smiled and nodded, kissing him again before she left. They both knew what he meant, and they didn’t need to say anything more. He watched her as she left the room, finishing off the toast as he got to his feet. Carrying his coffee over to the kitchen window, he looked out to where Hermione and Tonks stood side by side, their hands on their hips as they discussed the dormant garden. It was somewhat unnerving to be standing there drinking coffee, when the night before he and Ron had been ready to kill each other in an unwarranted moment of rage. Glancing into the lounge room, he could see Hermione’s beaded bag sitting neatly on the coffee table, housing the ruined diadem and Sword of Gryffindor.
“What are you looking at?” Ginny asked, returning with Teddy in her arms.
“Nothing,” Harry shook his head, putting down his coffee and holding his hands out for Teddy.
Ginny reluctantly passed him over, and they stood together as they looked him over, observing the new brown and green patches all over his skin. Any morphing he did at this age was completely unintentional, and Harry could anticipate future difficulties taking a baby like Teddy out into the Muggle eye.
“Look at his hair,” Harry commented, touching the long lengths that were beginning to curl up at his neck. Carefully taking the end of one curl, he pulled it taught before watching it bounce back into shape. “It’s so long, Tonks should cut it.”
“No,” Ginny shook her head, mimicking what Harry had done. “It’s so cute.”
“He’ll look like a girl!”
“A cute girl.”
“Don’t worry, Teddy,” Harry said lowly. “I won’t let her make you look like a girl.”
“He does, kinda,” Ron commented, sneaking up on both of them. “Put him in a pink jumpsuit, and you’d never know.”
“Don’t listen to him,” Harry said to Teddy, fixing a glare at Ron who was now drinking his coffee. “I was gonna drink that.”
“Don’t know why,” Ron grimaced as he finished the last of it. He leant against the kitchen bench, rubbing his eyes wearily. “It’s bloody awful.”
Harry ignored this, readjusting Teddy in his arms until he lay against his chest. The three of them stood there watching him, Harry’s heart swelling as Teddy pushed his little fists against Harry’s chest, pushing himself back and trying to look around. He didn’t manage it for more than a few moments before his head lolling back to Harry’s chest, but Harry could help the immense pride that filled him as he watched Teddy trying. Soon they all ended up outside together, sitting in a circle around Teddy who lay naked on a blanket, enjoying the sunshine.
It was like last night had never happened. Tonks didn’t pester them for information or berate them for taking off, content to sit there with them as they watched Teddy trying to bring a wooden rattle to his mouth for a taste. Without the constraint of his nappy or clothes, he wiggled around happily, still trying to raise his head and look around. His skin was still blotchy and green, though some patches seemed to be fading, along with his multi-coloured hair which was turning back to white blonde.
They quickly lost track of time, and as the sun began to fade they retreated inside, Tonks filling the kitchen sink to bathe Teddy.
“Here,” said kindly, passing a still naked Teddy over to Harry. “Would you like to bathe him?”
“You are his godfather,” she reminded him.
“Alright,” he agreed, glancing over his shoulder. Ron, Hermione and Ginny sat in the living room, Hermione’s beaded bag open on the table between them. He couldn’t quite see, but he was almost certain that they were showing Ginny the diadem and book, giving her a few more details of what had happened. “You’ll have to show me how,” he said to Tonks.
Before he knew it, Teddy was happily kicking against the side of the sink, his body carefully balanced by Harry’s hand beneath his neck and shoulders. His arms flailed gleefully before coming back to his mouth for another taste, perfectly content with his godfather. Harry was somewhat surprised by his behaviour, having expected him to make a fuss as he occasionally did during his baths. He felt rather nervous as he used the cloth to carefully wash his face, Tonks having abandoned him almost immediately. From what he could tell, she had gone out the front for some reason, her sudden change in behaviour leaving Harry nervous.
Fifteen minutes passed, and though the water stayed nice and warm, he could tell that Teddy was losing his patience. He called Ginny over, requesting Teddy’s towel, and between the two of them they managed to bundle him up quickly, keeping him nice and warm. Ginny set off to find some clothing and a fresh nappy, while Harry brought Teddy into the lounge room where he could dress him in front of the fire that Ron had built.
“What’s Tonks doing?” Ron asked, watching with a smirk as Harry fumbled to get Teddy dressed.
“She’s out the front,” Harry mumbled, looking critically at Teddy’s nappy. “Does that look right, ‘Mione?”
“Looks good to me,” she commented, Ginny giving her nod of approval as Ron got to his feet.
Harry watched for a moment as Ron wandered over to the window and looked out the front, but quickly had to turn his full attention back to Teddy, who was again growing impatient with his slow acting godfather. He began to cry, his face screwed up in disapproval as Harry struggled to dress him in the jumpsuit Ginny had brought him.
“I think this one’s too small,” he said in frustration, watching as Teddy tried to extend his leg against the fabric.
Teddy was still crying, and Harry couldn’t be bothered fighting to get him out of the suit and into another one. He had avoided using it all day, but he pulled out Draco Malfoy’s wand and cast a careful charm on Teddy’s suit, relieved when it fit him perfectly a moment later. He hastened to finish dressing him, all the while wondering what he might be doing wrong. Was he close enough to the fire to stay warm? Or was he too close? Harry debated with himself silently, relieved when he finally passed Teddy over to Hermione, who had patiently been waiting her turn all afternoon.
Happy now, Teddy settled and began to suck on his hand again, allowing Harry to breathe a sigh of relief. He glared at Ginny, who was trying not to laugh at him, and playfully threw the towel at her. Getting back to his feet, Harry emptied the kitchen sink and glanced at Ron, who was watching Tonks through the window.
“She’s just standing there…” he muttered when Harry came over. “What’s she doing?”
“I dunno, maybe waiting for someone?”
They flew back to the living room when Tonks turned around, and they had just sat down on the couch beside Hermione when she came back through the door. They turned around and looked at her, giving her an innocent smile.
“Thanks for dressing him,” she said, running her fingers through her hair.
Harry noticed her sudden stress, her hair having turned back to its natural blonde in the twenty minutes she had been outside. Returning her earlier favour, Harry didn’t pester her about it, agreeing to a game of Exploding Snape with Ron when Tonks began to nurse.
They played silently, Hermione and Ginny watching on. They all knew something was wrong, and after their third game, Harry noted Tonks growing more and more anxious over something. Still nursing Teddy, she got to her feet and wandered over to the front window and began to close the curtains as normal, but not before taking an extra-long look outside.
“Do you know what’s wrong?” Harry whispered to Ginny when Tonks went into the kitchen, doing the same thing with the curtain in there.
“No idea,” she shrugged, raising her eyebrows.
They continued playing, eventually giving up on Exploding Snap when Hermione suggested a house of cards. Setting themselves up at the kitchen table, they steadied the rickety leg and got to work, watching out of the corner of their eyes as Tonks sat back down in the lounge room. They had completed the ground story when Tonks put Teddy to bed, and the third story when Ginny and Hermione gave in. It was only early, but they both retreated to bed, leaving Harry and Ron alone in the kitchen. Tonks was still in her room.
“She worried about Remus, you reckon?” Ron pondered, voicing what Harry was thinking.
“Probably. But he’s gone for hours all the time.”
Ron nodded in agreement, and when their house of cards gave way on the fifth story, they packed up and began the slow retreat to bed. Ron collapsed onto the fold out couch beside Hermione, and Harry chuckled to himself as she berated him for waking her. Passing the closed door to Tonks’ bedroom, he wondered if she was alright, and was in the middle of brushing his teeth when he heard her door open.
“Harry,” Tonks said, poking her head into the bathroom.
“Mmm?” Harry said around his toothbrush, raising his eyebrow at her.
“Can you do me a favour?”
“Mmm?” he repeated, finishing quickly and spitting out the toothpaste. “What is it?”
“I’m going out for a while,” she said. “Do you think you could stay up, keep an eye on the place?”
He nodded, washing out his mouth before asking what was on his mind. “Are you worried about Remus?”
She nodded, not trying to protect him with lies about how everything was okay. “I expected him back around midday.”
“Oh…” Harry commented, mentally calculating how long he had been gone.
He followed Tonks out into the living room, where they spoke quietly.
“I shouldn’t be long, I’ll definitely be back by morning. There’s formula for Teddy in the cupboard, just mix with water and sit him up if you need to feed him. He’ll take it better that way. Also, if he doesn’t settle again, just turn the wireless on to-”
“To static, I know,” Harry reassured her, knowing all of this already. “Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.”
“I know,” she agreed, tying her hair back as she looked down the hall to where Teddy was sleeping. “When I come back, I’ll come through the back door. An imposter will stop and knock on the door, ready for an identifying question.”
“But you and Remus will come straight in, right,” he confirmed, knowing this as well. “Don’t worry about a thing, just do what you need to.”
“Alright,” she said, wasting no time as she pulled on her cloak and opened the front door. “Lock the door behind me.”
Harry nodded, but Tonks had apparated before he even closed the door. Feeling rather surprised by her hasty departure, he closed the door and locked it, trusting the other wards that were already in place. Turning around, he saw Ron and Hermione sitting up and peering at him over the back of the couch.
“Did she just leave?” Ron said incredulously.
“Yep,” Harry said uncomfortably, putting his hands into his pockets.
“She just left?”
“She’s looking for Remus,” Harry explained.
“Yeah, but…she’s left her kid with teenagers…is she allowed to do that?”
Hermione rolled her eyes and shook her head. “We’re more than capable of looking after a child, Ron. He’s asleep anyway.”
As if on cue, Teddy began to cry from the other room. Groaning, Harry looked at his watch. It was eleven thirty.
“Go back to sleep,” he instructed them as he walked towards Tonks’ room.
Summoning up extra energy, Harry checked on Teddy, doing his best to settle him without picking him up. If they were lucky, he often went back to sleep, but there was simply no predicting exactly what he would do or want. He protested heartily when Harry rubbed his chest, screwing up his face as he began to fill his nappy. Changing it with a flick of his wand, Harry prayed that Teddy would settle now, but even the normally soothing sound of static on the wireless would not settle him. Worried that his cries would wake Ginny, Harry finally picked Teddy up and cradled him close, breathing a sigh of relief when he quietened.
They sat there listening to the static, Harry enjoying the solitude and another opportunity to look Teddy over. His hair had completely changed back to blonde now, making his pink scalp beneath even more visible. Trailing his fingers through his hair, Harry played with Teddy’s long curls, loving the way he was snuggled up against his shoulder. Teddy began to fuss again, his mouth opening and closing around his fist, indicating to Harry exactly what he wanted.
Carrying Teddy into the kitchen, he struggled to open the tin of formula with one hand, finally finding the right balance to measure the spoonful of formula into the waiting bottle. Adding the water, Harry shook the bottle well and warmed it, awkwardly managing to test the temperature on the back of his hand. Pleased by his success, Harry sat down at the kitchen table and adjusted Teddy in his arms until he was sitting up. He fussed crankily, and after a false starts and tears, Teddy finally began drinking.
Pleased with his success, Harry briefly closed his eyes and tried to relax. He was uncomfortably aware of how time was progressing, and it was quickly approaching midnight. It was difficult not to be on edge at this time of night, even more so than when he would take the night watch at Privet drive or in the tent. There was more at stake now, the baby in his arms meaning that they would be more vulnerable in an attack. With both Tonks and Remus gone for the foreseeable future, Harry felt wide awake. Restless, he carefully got to his feet and paced around the kitchen, Teddy completely focused on his important task.
Much like Tonks had, Harry used his elbow to nudge back the curtains on the living room window and look outside. The front light was on, but there was no sign of either Remus or Tonks arriving. Turning away again, he saw that Ron was wide awake, watching him with a tired smile. Harry wandered back into the kitchen, observing Teddy closely when he began to reach the end of his bottle. As the last of the formula vanished, Harry prepared himself for the inevitable cries of frustration, casting a silencing charm around the room to prevent Teddy waking Ginny or Hermione. Taking the empty bottle away, he turned Teddy around and put him against his shoulder and rubbed his back, remembering only at the last minute to lay down a cloth over his shoulder.
Ten minutes later, Teddy turned his face into Harry’s neck and regurgitated, making him groan and mutter in frustration. He quickly cleared the mess away and leaned back to look at Teddy, who was smacking his lips in satisfaction. He quietened now, closing his eyes and relaxing as Harry began to head for Tonks’ bedroom. Turning the wireless back on, Harry did his best to settle Teddy back into his crib, but the moment he made to take him away from his shoulder, he would arch his back and cry in protest. Sighing loudly, he reminded himself that it didn’t matter, that he had to stay awake on watch anyway, but Teddy’s refusal to go back to sleep was draining.
Switching the wireless to a proper station, Harry took the blanket from the crib and wrapped it snuggly around Teddy as he had seen Tonks do. Pacing around the room, Harry rubbed his back through the blanket and tried to sway gently, again copying what he had seen Tonks do. It was another forty long minutes before Teddy’s eyes finally closed, and another ten after that before Harry dared put him back in his crib. Adjusting the swaddle of blankets, Harry turned the wireless back to static and reduced the volume, bringing it to sit at the end of the crib. He stayed for a few minutes, watching and waiting to ensure his hard work was not just luck. Teddy stayed asleep, even as Harry turned out the main light and backed out of the room.
He left the door slightly ajar and headed back into the kitchen, finding Ron sitting up at the table. He shuffled the packet of Exploding Snap before dealing it out onto the table before him.
“What are you playing?”
“Err…Klondike, I think.”
“When did you learn that?” Harry asked as he sat down, knowing it was typically a Muggle card game.
“Hermione showed me…ages ago I think. Teddy asleep?”
Harry nodded, resting his head in his hands as he watched Ron turning over cards and moving them amongst the piles. It was after one o’clock now, Teddy having been up for only an hour and a half. He knew in terms of what Tonks normally dealt with, that he had been particularly lucky that night.
“You go to bed,” Ron said suddenly, gathering up the cards and shuffling them again. “I can’t sleep….bloody Tonks has got me on edge.”
“Yeah, me too,” Harry laughed, considering Ron’s offer. “Are you going to stay up all night?”
Ron shrugged. “Why not…you’ve done your share of night watches before, reckon it’s my turn, eh?”
Harry chuckled at this, yawning as he pushed himself away from the table. “Thanks mate,” he said gratefully. “Wake me if you wanna swap…or if Teddy wakes.”
Still unable to believe his run of good luck, Harry checked in on Teddy before slipping back into his own room, leaving that door slightly ajar also. He changed and then awkwardly slipped into bed beside Ginny, who was sprawled out across both sides. She woke a little as the mattress depressed, and so she flung her arm over his stomach.
“Where’ve you been?” she asked sleepily.
“Up with Teddy,” his whispered, kissing the top of her head. “Tonks has gone out.”
“Tonks has gone out?” she said in alarm, sitting up abruptly. “Where did she go?”
“She’s just looking for Remus,” Harry said, taking his opportunity to move away from the edge of the bed. Comfortable now, he pulled her back down to lay against his chest. “Don’t worry, Ron’s up waiting for her.”
“Don’t worry about it. He probably just forgot to check in.”
“Alright,” she conceded, running her hand underneath Harry shirt before tugging at the material. “What’s with the shirt?”
Harry laughed, getting the hint. “Ron’s awake…and the door’s open.”
“Oh,” she grumbled, trailing her leg over his. “Does that mean I have to put pants on?”
“No,” he said firmly, reaching down to grasp her knee. Glancing at the door, Harry pressed her down into the mattress and moved to lay over her, kissing her. “No to the pants.”
She chuckled against his lips, and he could feel her cheeks blushing as he lightly ran his hand up her leg to cup her through her knickers, making her arch up against him.
“Stop it,” she admonished, though her hand was doing the same to him. “Ron’s awake, and the door’s open,” she mimicked.
Laughing, Harry kissed her again before laying back down beside her, trailing his fingers over her stomach. He knew that Ginny was worried about Remus too, but she didn’t press the subject, falling asleep as soon as Harry began stroking her side. With Ginny asleep now, Harry allowed himself to relax, knowing that Ron would wake him if he grew too tired. The bed was warm and comfortable, especially with Ginny pressed up against him, slowly spreading herself out over him and the rest of the bed as she slept. After fighting for his share of the blankets once again, Harry managed to fall asleep.
But it wasn’t long before Harry was roused again, instantly alert the moment he heard Ron urgently whispering his name.
“What is it?” he asked quietly, opening his eyes to find Ron standing by the bed.
He didn’t comment about the way Ginny was curled around him. In fact, Ron hardly seemed to notice her at all. He stood there with his arms folded, fidgeting as he waited for Harry to disentangle himself and sit up.
“I need you to get up,” Ron whispered urgently. “Something’s happened.”
A/N Lots of exciting chapters to come your way, so please review for me!
Write a Review Chasing The Inevitable: Chapter 48 Downtime