Chapter 30 : Chapter 29 Sunday at the Burrow
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It was over now. Teddy was back, safely resting in Harry's arms where he had been for the last five hours. Despite having anticipated the very worst possibilities for his young son, Teddy was completely unharmed, every single hair on his head well cared for and looked after. He had brushed his teeth twice a day, had been given a warm and safe place to sleep...even his fingernails had been trimmed, an ordeal that normally took all of Harry's patience. Shifting uncomfortably, Harry remembered that it had been Remus who had done all these things, Remus who had cared for Teddy. Feeling the emotions and confusion welling up in his chest, Harry quickly changed his train of thought, needing to keep a calm head in front of Teddy. There would be time later, for Harry to yell, for him to rant and demand explanations, though who would give them to him he did not know.
He turned his attention back to Teddy, who was now mouthing the words to his new favourite song, The Crocodile Hunter. From the very moment when Teddy lurched out of Ginny's arms and into Harry's, he had refused to let go, his arms curled around Harry's neck as his fingernails dug into skin, ensuring they could not lose each other. Although it made finding out information about Remus and Malfoy difficult, it didn't bother Harry at all, who was more than happy to hold Teddy in his arms as long as he liked. Watching him carefully, he stroked his fine black hair while his other hand squeezed his toes, which were cold despite the blanket.
"Are your toes cold, Ratbag?" he asked softly.
Teddy nodded, wriggling them as Harry began warming them up. He sniffled and rubbed his eyes, picking up Woody and tucking him up under his arms. Comfortable again, they settled back down and continued listening to Wiggly Safari, though Harry's attention was mainly focused elsewhere. He could hear Molly in the kitchen, boiling the kettle as she and Arthur talked quietly. Harry had no doubt that they were welcome here again, for as long as they liked. As soon as Teddy was safe, it was no longer necessary to remain in Tetbury where the Death Eaters could still make contact. Kingsley had immediately left the Shrieking Shack to alert Mad-Eye to the good news, the two of them quickly taking Molly and James to a new place of safety.
Teddy hadn't taken the news of going to the Burrow as well as Harry had expected. Within a few moments of hearing the plan, he had become hysterical, crying hard with his face buried into Harry's shoulder. It was twenty minutes before Harry could calm him down enough to get him to explain, and even then his voice had been heavy with tears and hiccups. Teddy wanted to go home. That's all he had been able to voice. With dozens of Order members accompanying them, Harry and Ginny had briefly returned to Tetbury with Teddy, who settled immediately at the sight of his home.
"We can only stay a little while," Harry tried to explain, watching as Ginny and Arthur went from room to room, packing up clothing and basics that they would need. "We're going to live with Nana and Grandad at the Burrow for a little while."
"But why?" Teddy had tearfully asked, not understanding. "I want to stay at home."
"We just can't stay here anymore...we're not allowed."
Teddy had gone silent for some time, his lower lip trembling as he watched Ginny place a bag full of his books and toys by the front door. "Will they come back?"
Harry had no doubt about to whom Teddy was referring. "If we stay here, they might," he said delicately, not wanting to frighten him.
"But not at the Burrow?"
"No," Harry promised. "They won't know where we are."
At this explanation Teddy had accepted the plan, though the only indication he gave was a short nod before putting his face back into Harry's shoulder. After arriving at the Burrow, the afternoon had progressed slowly, consisting mainly of Ron delicately trying to question Teddy. In the end, after an hour of Teddy refusing to make any responses, Harry had told Ron to write down all of the specific questions he needed answers to, promising he would have answers by the morning. Though Teddy had answered a few of the questions, he really didn’t know that much at all. Teddy was now shying away from everyone except Harry and Ginny, even Molly who had offered him Baked Beans on toast for dinner. He would clench his arms around Harry's neck even tighter and look away as an adult approached, and Harry knew he was afraid they would take him away again.
The front door caught Harry's attention, with he and Teddy both looking up to see Ginny arriving home. Kingsley accompanied her inside, taking her cloak and hanging it up for her. She greeted Arthur quietly as she made her way over to where Harry and Teddy sat. Sitting down on the coffee table she leant over and gave Teddy a kiss on the cheek, eliciting a smile out of him.
"Hi Teddy Bear."
"Hi Mummy," he mumbled back.
She leant over to Harry now, whispering into his ear. "She's doing alright. Ron's staying at the hospital tonight."
"Thanks," he said sincerely, accepting her brief kiss.
Ginny left for the kitchen, where she could hear James fussing, while Harry lay there thinking about Hermione, and all that she had gone through for them. He didn't know the details of how and when or why, but knew that Hermione had been hurt somehow, miraculously found by the Order that afternoon. She was in St Mungos hospital for now, receiving treatment, though that was all Harry knew. Ginny had opted to go to the hospital on her own, realising that Harry couldn't possibly bring Teddy with him. The more he thought about her, the more he thought about Sirius and Sharon, who had yet to make contact with anyone.
Neither of them had been seen since earlier that week, when Arthur had visited to tell them about James' birth. Harry himself hadn't seen Sirius since Monday afternoon, when Sirius had given him thirty eight thousand galleons in the Leaky Cauldron. Despite reassurances from everyone else, Harry couldn't help but think the worst, that after surviving so much Sirius might actually be dead. He was preparing himself for the news, trying to get ready for the grief.
"What's wrong, Dad?" Teddy asked, looking up as Ginny came in.
"Nothing," Harry smiled, realising his eyes had begun water. "I'm just glad you're home."
Teddy nodded as Ginny sat down, and he twisted around to watch her now. She held James in her arms, who was fussing loudly as she hastened to open her shirt. Teddy watched in fascination as Ginny began to nurse, though he had seen this type of thing before with each cousin that came along. Teddy was well learned in what he called 'Booby Juice' and babies. Despite his initial excitement about his yet to be born brother, Teddy had shown no interest in James all afternoon, until now. He watched quietly for some time, and Harry could see the questions and queries ticking over in Teddy's mind, but it was some time before he began to voice them.
"James can't change his hair, can he," Teddy confirmed.
"No," Ginny smiled. "Only you can do that."
A moment later, Teddy changed his hair to light red, matching his new brother. "Can I hold him?"
Harry breathed a sigh of relief at this question, having been afraid that Teddy might not accept James after all that had happened to him.
"He needs to finish his dinner first," Ginny told him kindly. "He'll get cross if he's hungry."
"You can have a cuddle after your bath," Harry said, seeing the opportunity. "He should be done by then."
Teddy hesitated at this, glancing back at Harry. "Why do I have to have a bath?"
"It's eight o'clock mate," Harry explained, praying that Teddy would feel secure enough to do this one little thing.
"Oh," he said quietly, looking down at Woody. "Can I have a shower instead?"
"Of course you can," Harry said, taking a chance and lifting Teddy to his feet. To his great relief, Teddy took this well. "Come on, let's go then."
Teddy nodded, holding Harry's hand as they walked past Ginny and James and headed for the stairs. He could hear Arthur and Kingsley talking in the kitchen, and at the sound of their voices Teddy clenched Harry's hand and began walking a little faster, looking over his shoulder.
"You don't have to worry," Harry tried to reassure him, fetching a new towel and pyjamas.
"I know," Teddy said indignantly, denying that he had been.
A few minutes later Teddy was standing under the shower, watching Harry for any signs that he was going to try and leave. Harry patiently sat on the lid of the toilet and waited, giving brief words of instruction to prompt Teddy into action. He took this time to give his son a proper look over, relieved to see only the scrapes on his knees from when he had fallen over that day. Not even a bruise marred his body, which was rather unusual for Teddy.
For the most part Teddy stood still, wringing his hands together, not messing around and playing the way he normally would. Concern filled Harry as he watched this, knowing that he couldn't expect Teddy to leap back into his normal ways. He'd had a very upsetting time. He would need a couple of days to adjust, to come back out of his shell and feel secure again. Yet Harry couldn't help but rack his brain for a quick fix, for something that would yank Teddy back into his former self. Watching him now, seeing the worried look on his son's face, Harry knew he couldn't bear to see it there much longer. Was this how Sirius felt, watching and observing the changes in his Godson after he was abducted?
Suddenly Teddy began to cry, his lower lip trembling as tears rushed down his cheeks, mingling with the running water. His hair turned back to its natural blonde as Harry leapt to his feet and rushed over.
"What's wrong?" he asked hastily, wondering if he had gotten shampoo in his eyes.
"I want to get out," Teddy managed to say in between sobs.
"Okay, alright," Harry said hastily, reaching up and turning the water off. "Don't be upset, it's alright."
Still shaking, Teddy stepped out of the shower and onto the bathmat, but made no motion to accept the towel Harry offered. Working quickly before he got cold, Harry began to dry him off himself, talking quietly to reassure Teddy, who was slowly beginning to calm down. Though he picked up his underwear, Teddy made no attempt to put it on, and Harry was forced to help him, his own heart pounding hard. Just like Teddy, Harry wanted to break down and start crying, hating to see Teddy so upset and worried. Dressed now, Teddy stepped into Harry's arms and stood there, sniffling as he began to settle.
"Are you hungry?" Harry asked him, knowing how little of his dinner he had eaten.
Teddy shook his head.
"Even for ice cream?"
Teddy shook his head again.
"You can have anything you want," Harry tried next.
Again, Teddy shook his head. "Can I brush my teeth?"
"Alright," Harry said, summoning his toothbrush and paste from the Bob the Builder bag that had been with him all week. "Here you go."
"You can sing the brushing song if you like," Teddy prompted him. With a big breath, he began to spread the paste onto the brush, and then wet it under some water.
"Brush your teeth, brush your teeth," Harry began as Teddy started. "Brush up an-"
"No, it's give them all a treat," Teddy corrected him, looking at Harry with a frown.
"Oh, right. Sorry," Harry said, clearing his throat before beginning again. "Brush your teeth, brush your teeth, give them all a treat. Brush up and down and all around to..."
"Keep them clean and neat," Teddy finished, rolling his eyes when he realised Harry had forgotten the words.
"In the morning, and at night," Harry continued, smiling despite his hatred of this particular parenting task. "Clean them twice a day. Brush up and down and all around, keep fillings well away."
He sang it once more until he was satisfied that Teddy had done a thorough job, prompting him to show them off. "Wow, they're pretty clean," he commented. "Good job."
Teddy nodded, placing his brush and paste in the holder before hanging up his towel without instruction. "Is it my turn with James yet?"
"Let's see if he's finished with his dinner," Harry said.
Taking Harry's hand again, Teddy followed him downstairs and back to where Ginny sat on the couch. To Harry's relief James appeared to have finished for now, currently laying against Ginny's shoulder as she patted his back.
"Have you finished, Jamsie?" Teddy crooned, climbing onto the couch beside Ginny and looking at James properly.
"I think he has," Ginny smiled, turning James around so that Teddy could see him properly. "Cuddle?"
Looking to Harry for a moment, Teddy nodded and sat down properly, remembering the rules that had applied when he had held his cousins as babies. At Teddy's insistence, Harry sat down beside him, propping Teddy up with a pillow and helping him arrange his arms before Ginny placed James into them. James immediately began to cry, screwing up his face at the loss of his mother, though this didn't seem to bother Teddy one bit.
"Shh," he said sweetly. "It's okay, Jamsie, it's okay."
Helping him, Ginny readjusted James until Teddy was holding him nice and close. Not at all bothered by his brother's loud crying, Teddy used his free hand to take James' thumb and bring it to his mouth, just as he had been taught to with Freddy. When James settled the two brothers sat quietly for some time. Teddy often looked up to reassure himself that both parents were still there beside him, but for the most part he looked at James, concentrating on holding him properly. He appeared slightly startled when Molly joined them in the living room a few minutes later, and he looked at her suspiciously before turning his attention back to James. A few minutes after that, Teddy seemed brave enough to strike up conversation, and it was the most he had talked all afternoon.
"How long until he's big?"
"Big enough to play with you?" Ginny clarified. "Hmm, not too long. He's very busy doing lots of growing at the moment."
"He came on Tuesday, right?"
Teddy paused before his next question, and they could all sense the hesitation in his voice. "Is that why I had to stay with John?"
Harry's heart clenched at this question, pain seizing him. "Because James was coming?"
"Yeah," Teddy said, looking up. "Is that why I had to go away?"
"No," Harry said firmly. "Remember we talked about this earlier? We didn't want you to go away. We wanted you to come home. We missed you lots."
Teddy nodded at this, though Harry was uncertain that he fully understood what Harry was trying to say. "Does James stay with us now?"
"All the time?"
"Of course," Harry said. "He's our family, just like you."
Taking a deep breath, Teddy nodded again.
"Do you like him?" Molly asked boldly.
Teddy looked up in surprise, a frown on his forehead. "Of course I like him...I have to, don't I?"
They laughed at this, agreeing with him.
"He is kind of boring though," Teddy admitted, watching as James' eyes began to close. "Is this all he does?”
"Yes," Ginny smiled. "Remember, he's just like Freddy."
Teddy nodded at this, yawning as he looked back at James. Harry and Ginny exchanged a glance, saying a great deal without speaking at all. There would be time to talk later, especially if Teddy kept yawning the way he was. Kingsley left a short while later, giving Harry and Ginny a silent wave as he headed outside to re-join the Order Members stationed around the Burrow to provide extra protection. Dozens of them had come running at Kingsley’s summons that morning, ready to fight for Teddy’s safe return. Since then dozens more had continued arriving at Head Quarters, some of them helping find Hermione, while others set about looking for Sirius and Sharon. Prior to this however, Kingsley and Mad-Eye had carefully selected those they trusted most, sending them to the Burrow to provide the extra protection the Potters needed. With Teddy’s abrupt return and a horde of furious Death Eaters, they were at even greater risk than before.
Seeing that Teddy was beginning to close his eyes, Harry gently roused him, stroking his hair as he reluctantly handed James back to Ginny. He snuggled into Harry’s side and began to close his eyes, much to Harry’s relief.
“Let’s go to bed,” Harry prompted him, making him sit up.
Rubbing his tired eyes, Teddy looked up at him in dismay. “I don’t want to,” he whinged.
“I’m coming too,” Harry assured him, making quite a show of yawning widely. “Daddy’s tired.”
Accepting this, Teddy picked up Woody from where he had fallen to the floor before reaching up for Harry. Harry picked him up and held him close, kissing his cheek tenderly.
“Say goodnight to Nana,” he prompted quietly, turning around so Teddy could see her.
“Goodnight, Nana,” he mumbled.
“Blow her a kiss?” Harry suggested next, sensing that a proper kiss would not be given tonight.
Teddy smiled at this, making Harry’s heart leap. “Goodnight, Nana,” Teddy said again with a little more enthusiasm, blowing her a kiss.
Pretending to catch it, Molly blew one back. “Goodnight, Teddy Bear.”
“Thanks, Molly,” Harry said sincerely, hoping that a week’s worth of gratitude could be conveyed with one brief sentence.
She beamed at him, relieved that her family was once again safe and whole. Heading into the kitchen, Harry prompted Teddy to blow Arthur a kiss too before they went upstairs, heading into Ginny’s old bedroom that had been magically expanded. A second bed had been made up right beside the double bed he and Ginny would share, but Harry had no delusions about where exactly Teddy would be sleeping.
“I’m going to bed now,” Harry said to Ginny when she came upstairs. Standing in the doorway, Teddy could see him clearly from inside the bathroom, having been finally convinced to go to the loo before bed.
“I won’t be far behind you” she sighed, laying James on the bed and preparing to change his clothing.
“Wash your hands,” Harry reminded Teddy as he returned.
Teddy hesitated, clearly not wanting to. Quickly returning to the bathroom, he washed them hastily before running back, shaking them wildly before taking Woody back from Harry. “I’m done,” he said with finality, making himself perfectly clear. He wound his arm around Harry's knee, leaning against him until Harry prompted him towards the bed.
"In you get," he smiled, lifting Teddy up and placing him on the bed.
Slipping under the covers, Teddy fluffed up his pillow just the way he liked it before turning back to Harry again. "Can we read?"
"One book," Harry negotiated, though he knew he would read dozens if that's what Teddy requested. "I'm going to brush my teeth, alright?"
Nodding reluctantly, Teddy sat where he was and waited as Harry gathered some clothing and headed for the bathroom across the hall. Knowing that Teddy was waiting impatiently, Harry moved quickly, changing his clothes and beginning to brush his teeth. The mirror was strangely quiet this evening, making no comment on his appearance, and her silence forced him to take a look. He had avoided it thus far, worried about what he would see. Kingsley had cleaned up him as best he could with Teddy around his neck. The dried blood had vanished in seconds, and the bruises and swelling on his face had cleared up just as quickly.
Assessing his appearance again though, Harry could see the shadow of more bruising that was forming along the right hand side of his face. The corner of his mouth was still slightly swollen, a symptom of the broken tooth he was still sporting. It was certainly making eating and drinking hard, though he had grown used to the pain, which was now a dull ache. He would have to see someone about it,and sooner rather than later. Knowing his luck at the moment, it would get infected.
Hearing Teddy's voice, Harry carefully washed his mouth out before splashing some water on his face. With a great sigh he leant closer to the mirror and tried not to frown, annoyed when he saw creases and lines in the corner of his eyes that hadn't been there a week ago. He was twenty two, and he had crow's feet already.
Teddy's voice sprang Harry back into action, and so he quickly returned to the bedroom to find his son standing up on the bed, craning his neck to see him coming in. Ginny sat on the bed beside him, reassuring him that Harry was coming back. As soon as he saw Harry, Teddy sat back down in relief.
"What's wrong, Ratbag?"
"Nothing," he denied, slipping his legs back under the blankets. "Are you going to bed now?"
Harry nodded, exchanging a glance with Ginny. "What book do you want to read?" he asked indicating to the large box that housed all of Teddy's books and toys.
"I don't want to read," he said shortly, settling Woody onto the pillow beside him. "I just want to go to sleep."
Not feeling the relief this statement would have normally brought him, Harry leant across the bed and gave Ginny a kiss before settling in beside Teddy, who immediately snuggled up against his chest. His eyes began to droop as Harry embraced him warmly, tucking the blankets around him as Vlad joined them on the bed. As he sneakily slipped under the covers, Harry watched as the small lump made its way down the bed to settle on Teddy's feet, keeping them warm. Teddy appeared not to notice the kneazle, closing his eyes as he began to suck on his thumb. Harry couldn't bear to take it out of his mouth. If Teddy wanted to suck his thumb, he could.
"Goodnight Teddy Bear," Ginny whispered, leaning over and kissing Teddy on the cheek.
"Goodnight Mummy," he mumbled, his eyes flickering open. He watched as Ginny slipped out of the room, and Harry could feel him tense up. "Where's she going?" Teddy asked, spitting out his thumb and sitting up.
"To talk to Nana," Harry reassured him, encouraging him to lay back down. "She'll come back soon."
Frowning for a moment, Teddy lay back down and put his thumb back into his mouth, but his eyes did not close again. He lay quietly in Harry's arms, the two of them listening to the familiar sounds of the Burrow as Teddy struggled to stay awake. Stroking his head rhythmically, Harry watched as Teddy's eyelids very slowly began to droop, his whole body relaxing and snuggling further into Harry's arms. A short while later he was sleeping, much to Harry's relief, and sleep came easily to him too that night. With James' soft sighs from the crib and Teddy's warm cuddle, he allowed himself to relax and fall asleep, reassured in the knowledge that people they knew and trusted were watching over the Burrow. These people would not betray them...they had come running at the first sign of danger.
He didn't rouse when Ginny came to bed an hour later, and it was only the sound of James' quiet fussing that woke him. His eyes flickered open as Ginny sat up beside him with a groan, seating herself on the edge of the bed and reaching into the crib. Harry smiled as he watched her trying to soothe him, until he gave a loud wail, one which appeared to take great effort. Sighing, Ginny picked James up and brought him into her arms, rocking him as she flicked her wand and changed his nappy.
"Why is he crying?" a little voice from Harry's arms asked.
Teddy was awake, blearily watching his mother and brother as he rolled over in Harry's arms to see them properly.
"Mum?" he asked next. "Is he hungry?"
"Yeah," she smiled, turning around and sitting on the bed properly.
"You should give him your boobies," he commented helpfully.
"That sounds like a good idea," Ginny yawned, fluffing up her pillows and getting comfortable. She shared a smile with Harry as she began nursing, indicating to Teddy who was watching James intently.
Stroking Teddy's hair, Harry kissed the top of his head. "Do you need the loo?" he asked.
Teddy shook his head, beginning to suck his thumb again.
"Are you sure?"
Shaking his head again, Teddy snuggled back against Harry's chest, still watching James nurse. With Harry continuing to stroke his hair, Teddy was asleep again within minutes, but Harry forced himself to stay awake, trying to keep Ginny company. It was well after midnight now, and Harry couldn't help but think that a week ago he had come home from the Quidditch match and collapsed into bed, expecting sleep. That seemed like a lifetime ago. Even James' birth felt like it had happened years ago, not five days ago. With Teddy asleep in his arms, Harry knew he and Ginny were incredibly lucky to have both their children safe and healthy.
When they were sure Teddy was asleep, they began talking quietly, Ginny filling him in on the bits and pieces she had learnt that afternoon. Malfoy was being held somewhere, and was cooperating so far, telling the Order as much as he knew, which apparently was limited. The plan to break the prisoners from Azkaban had been in the works for over a year now, and the plan to have Harry under their thumb quickly became an added advantage. It had been too easy to get to Harry, using Luther Fallacks, a spy who had been in place since the APE department had formed. He had been trusted, with Ron placing the safety of Harry and Ginny in his hands, a move which the Death Eaters had been depending on. Needless to say, Ron was devastated by the effects of his trust.
Hermione would be released the following morning, and was likely to come to the Burrow with Ron for an indefinite period of time. Ginny relayed Hermione's testimony as best she could, explaining how she had been kept in Little Hangleton since defending Harry at his arraignment on Tuesday. There she had remained alone and unharmed until Saturday morning, when in the midst of their panic over Harry's public statement, they had turned on her. Ginny didn't know any details, with Hermione having been quite drowsy when she had visited her last night, but needless to say Hermione had been quite uncooperative with the Death Eaters. The question of why Ron had been released while she remained imprisoned was not yet known for certain.
As for Remus, Ginny truly didn't know any more than Harry did. If Malfoy had said anything about his involvement, the details had not been shared with Ginny. Remus' spectre hung over them, the elephant in the room that neither of them wanted to acknowledge. He was alive, not dead as they had believed. Was he going to appear on the Burrow's doorstep in the morning? Was he going to try and take Teddy from them again?
"He wouldn't explain," he told Ginny quietly, holding Teddy just a little more tightly. "He only said he was trying to protect Ted."
"From us?" Ginny whispered incredulously, laying down on her side with James still on her breast.
"That's what I asked," he said, not at all surprised that they both had the same thought.
"Why would Teddy need protection from us? Remus left him to you."
Harry shrugged, sighing as he felt Vlad wriggling around by his feet. Shame filled him as he remembered the moment he had pointed the gun at Remus, his old friend, completely losing control of himself. "I tried to shoot him," he admitted to Ginny.
"What?" she said in disbelief. "You took the gun?"
He nodded, still very ashamed. He recalled the exact moments, remembering the way his hand felt steadier than ever as he pointed the gun at Remus, threatening to kill him. "I told him to bring Teddy back, or I would kill him. The gun jammed though, when I tried."
She scoffed at this. "I wouldn't have even warned him," she said bitterly. Reaching out, she placed her hand over his and squeezed. "Doesn't matter who he is. He had our son. I would have shot him too."
"Thanks," he said quietly, needing her reassurance.
They continued talking quietly for some time, managing to make a few decisions about their future. Now that the danger had passed, they were able to worry about the stupid things like Harry's job, and the fact that they had no money. To Harry's relief, they didn't speak about Sirius, still horribly worried about his disappearance. He was grateful to Ginny for not bringing him up...he wouldn't be able to keep his cool levels of control if she did.
The familiar smell of ammonia caught them off guard, and they immediately looked to James’ nappy for confirmation. However a moment later when he shifted, Harry felt the warmth that was seeping through the sheets beside him, and realised that Teddy had wet the bed. Though it was a rare occurrence for Teddy to wet the bed, Harry and Ginny were both unsurprised by this. Teddy was stressed beyond what he could handle as a four year old. Reaching for his wand, Harry cleaned the soiled sheets and clothing, freshening Teddy up before kissing the crown of his head.
They lay there quietly now, having said all that was necessary. James soon fell asleep at Ginny's breast, and so she swaddled him in his blankets and left him asleep beside her. Getting comfortable, she and James shifted closer to Harry and Teddy, allowing them to comfortably hold hands. With both their children safely sleeping between them, they knew things would get better from now on.
Sunday morning brought them sunshine and pancakes, expertly made by Molly and her new assistant, Teddy. As Harry expected, he had roused before the sun rose, and although Harry had convinced him to lay in bed quietly for some time, Teddy was restless. Leaving James and Ginny to sleep soundly in the bed, Harry and Teddy headed downstairs to the kitchen, where miraculously Teddy’s appetite had returned.
“One more,” he bargained as Harry placed two Weet Bix pieces into his cereal bowl.
“Finish those two first,” Harry insisted, pouring warm milk into the bowl and handing Teddy his spoon. “Then you can have more.”
After adding more wood to the fire, Harry made himself a strong cup of coffee and sat down across from Teddy, watching him eat every bite of his breakfast. Just as Teddy normally did, he ate with concentration, occasionally glancing around curiously as his eyes found more and more things he had never noticed before. Despite his calm frame of mind, Harry knew Teddy still felt anxious, for his eyes kept flicking to and from Harry across the table.
The morning progressed slowly, and one by one Molly, Arthur and Ginny joined them downstairs. After listening to the children's channel on the wireless for some time, the sound of cracking eggs enticed Teddy away from Harry and towards the kitchen, where Molly was preparing pancakes. At Molly's instructions, Teddy flew upstairs by himself, returning a few minutes later fully dressed and ready to help, dragging over a stool that he could stand on. Harry and Ginny had looked at each other in surprise, listening from the lounge room as Teddy took charge of measuring the milk.
Taking Teddy’s place, Ginny sat beside Harry and settled into his embrace, sitting quietly as they listened to Teddy. A few minutes later he came rushing into the living room, Molly calling out after him in confusion. He had stopped by the end of the couch and looked at Harry and Ginny silently, before just as quickly turning around and returning to the kitchen.
“He’s making sure we’re not going anywhere,” Ginny murmured, sighing.
Harry nodded in agreement. As they anticipated Teddy did this twice more, until Molly called them all to the table where pancakes were being served.
“Dad, you can sit here,” Teddy said in a hurry, showing Harry to his chair. “An-and Mum? You have to sit there.”
When they took their designated chairs, Teddy took the one in between them with obvious relief, settling Woody securely onto his lap. Molly and Arthur sat opposite, immediately beginning to pass around plates and honey, Arthur making quite a show of tossing Teddy the first pancake. Though he ate with his usual vigour, everyone could see that Teddy wasn’t quite relaxed, and his eyes continued to dart back and forth between Harry and Ginny.
“What time are you going out, Dad?” Teddy asked suddenly, holding his rolled up pancake in the air.
“Eleven forty five,” Harry reminded him patiently. “I’m just going to the Ministry.”
Teddy nodded as he had when Harry had told him this earlier. Reassured of what was happening, he returned to his pancakes and continued eating, already planning what he was going to have on the next one. The five of them ate leisurely, sitting back and letting the table clear itself when they finished. Harry set about preparing tea and coffee before returning the to the table, where they chatted idly about anything unrelated to what had just happened to their family. The Muggle stock market, the employee stealing from the Leaky Cauldron's till, the inner workings of a fax machine...Teddy stayed there with them, likely bored by their conversation, but content nonetheless. Under his breath he talked to Woody, and Harry tried his best to catch snippets of what Teddy was saying, desiring further insight into what Teddy was thinking. The name John came up twice, and Harry knew that was how Remus had introduced himself. The 'silly black mask' John wore also came up once, reaffirming the notion that Teddy had never seen Remus' face.
There was a soft creak from the front door, and Harry's heart leapt as he knew who was arriving. Was it really ten o'clock already? Leaning back in his chair, Harry craned his neck to see Ron and Hermione coming in the front door, and he smiled as he began to get up to greet them. Before he could move there was a loud shriek from Teddy, and Harry and Ginny both whirled around to comfort him, to reassure him that it was only Ron and Hermione. Before they could do so, however, Teddy had somehow leapt over the back of his chair and dashed away, knocking over another chair in his haste.
"Aunty M!" he shrieked in delight, bolting towards her.
As Harry rushed to follow him, he watched as Hermione's face lit up, and she beamed as she leant down to meet him. As she picked him up and held him, she promptly burst into tears, still beaming as she looked around at everyone.
"Hello Teddy Bear," she whispered as soon as she could manage. "I've missed you."
"...missed you too," he insisted, kissing her on the cheek as Molly and Arthur came out from the kitchen to see her. "We were supposed to watch the Ninja Turtles last Sunday."
"Oh, I know," she agreed, not at all surprised that he hadn't forgotten. "And you know what? They're on the telly again tonight, so maybe we can watch them in Grandad's shed."
"Hi Teddy," Ron said cheerfully, wondering if he would get a warmer reception than he had yesterday.
"Hi Uncle Ron," he replied absently, kissing Hermione on the cheek again.
Ron laughed good-naturedly, a laugh echoed by Teddy. "That's it then...I'm a coat rack."
"A handsome coat rack," Hermione smiled, convincing Teddy to say hello to his uncle. "Go on, give him a hug. He missed you too."
As she passed Teddy over to Ron, she wiped her face on her sleeve as she turned to Harry and Ginny next, hugging them both and holding on a little longer.
"Are you alright?" Harry asked her in concern, looking her over before she hugged him.
"I am now," she said tearfully, looking back to Teddy who was talking to Ron. "I'm much better now."
"Come and sit down dear," Molly said before Harry could ask her anything else. "In the living room, it's nice and warm."
"Thanks Molly," she smiled, accepting a cup of tea that had been hastily prepared.
"Are you hungry, dear?" Molly asked, fussing over her. "I can make you something."
"No, thank you," she smiled, looking as Teddy wiggled out of Ron's arms and came back to her. "I'm not hungry."
"Yes, she is," Ron said sternly, narrowing his eyes. "She wouldn't eat her breakfast at the hospital. Not that I blame her."
The flurry of excitement over Hermione's arrival continued, both Arthur and Molly insisting she take a plate of pancakes to go with her tea. With Teddy perched on one arm of the living room chair, and Ron sitting on the other, she was well looked after, and when Molly brought her a plate laden with pancakes she couldn't help but tuck in. The family sat in the living room for the remainder of the morning, though with Teddy there it was difficult to talk freely with Hermione, to ascertain the extent of what had happened to her. Some time later, Arthur tactfully asked Teddy for help with cleaning out the chicken coop, knowing that everyone was awaiting his distraction.
"It will just take ten minutes," Harry assured him when Teddy had initially refused. "Grandad needs your help, you know he's old!"
"I just want to stay in here," Teddy had insisted, pouting in annoyance.
"I'm not going to the Ministry just yet," he said next, knowing that's what worried Teddy. He pointed to the clock, showing that it was only eleven o'clock. "I promise I'll still be here when you finish helping Grandad."
Finally convinced, Arthur helped Teddy pull on his long boots and a warm jacket before the two of them went outside, but not before Teddy gave Harry a long and perfectly clear glare, one that indicated he better still be there when he returned. Standing, Harry watched out the back window as Arthur and Teddy crossed the backyard hand in hand, heading to the shed first to collect what they would need.
"It could have been much worse," Hermione stated bravely, trying to give them a comforting smile as she held Ron's hand. "And I'm perfectly alright, so get that guilty look off your face Harry James Potter."
He tried to smile back at her, but knew it wasn't reaching his eyes. Of course she would try and make them feel better about what had happened to her, of course she would try to soften the blow. It's exactly what Harry had always done. He had said anything and everything to reassure his concerned friends after he had been hurt or tortured, not wanting them to have to share the pain.
"But what happened exactly?" Ginny pressed.
"Well, I went to Mum and Dad's house for the night," she explained, suddenly yawning a little. "No one was supposed to know where we lived, except Luther Fallacks of course, so it's no surprise he found me so easily. He took me to see Teddy, he was sleeping at the time. I suppose they wanted to reassure me that he was alright. Then he asked me to make sure Harry was sentenced to maximum security in Azkaban. A plea of guilty or not guilty didn't matter, he just needed to be in prison." She turned to Harry, apologetic now. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Remus. I recognised the house by the carpet and the wallpaper, I just wasn't sure he was involved."
"It's alright," he said sincerely. They had all been right to keep Remus' involvement a secret from him. Even if he had believed them, he wouldn't have coped with the news well. He would have lost the clear head he had tried so hard to maintain.
Hermione nodded at this, relieved that he wasn't still angry with her. "Well anyway, after that Luther took me to Little Hangleton where Mad-Eye found me. They locked me in a room and tossed a few magazines my way. Luckily they let me keep my briefcase...I actually got some paper work done."
They all laughed at this, knowing only Hermione would think about paperwork when she was imprisoned.
"They gave me three square meals a day, and even tossed me a few more magazines. I'll have you know that I'm all up to date on the gossip, including the Muggle gossip."
"But what happened on Saturday?" Ginny pressed her again, much to Harry's surprise. She was clenching his hand as she waited, nervous to hear what had happened to her sister-in-law because of how they had gone public.
Hermione hesitated at this, perhaps wondering where to begin. "Well, they completely lost their cool," she explained. "Though I didn't know why at the time. They just suddenly came in and made all these demands, and got rather put out when I said 'go to hell'."
"What were they asking?"
Hermione laughed shortly. "They wanted me to bring them James."
"Are you kidding me?" Harry blurted out, hearing Molly gasp. "They wanted a five day old baby?"
"Oh yes. They said if I brought them James, then they'd let me go. I rather got the impression that they couldn't find Teddy anymore, that Remus had run off with him."
Harry nodded at this. "Yeah, I think he did. That's what we were hoping for, with going public."
"We hoped that he would do the right thing," Ginny continued. "That he'd return Teddy."
"And did he?" Hermione asked eagerly.
"No," Harry said bitterly. "He ditched the Death Eaters, but he was trying to negotiate with Malfoy."
There was a long pause, each of them taking in this new information.
"Does Teddy know?" Hermione asked cautiously. "That Remus is alive?"
"No," Harry said firmly. "And he's not to be told."
Ron and Hermione both nodded dutifully, understanding. Molly however, looked surprised. "But he...he's Teddy's father. Shouldn't we at lea-"
"He is not Teddy's father," Ginny said harshly. Her tone and expression were enough to silence anyone who dared raise the point again.
There was an awkward silence, one which Harry broke by standing up and leaning down to kiss Hermione on the cheek. "Thank you," he said sincerely, understanding what she had probably gone through.
"You're welcome," she said, squeezing his hand.
Leaving the awkward silence, Harry went upstairs into his new bedroom, taking solitude in the sound of James' soft sighs. Closing the door, he stood in the dark for a few moments as he breathed a sigh of relief. Rubbing his eyes he set about finding something a little more presentable to wear to the ministry, deciding on a red shirt that Ginny liked on him.
"Wear jeans," Ginny said, coming into the room to join him. "Not slacks."
Nodding silently, Harry set about looking through their mess of belongings that had been crammed inside the room, yet to be sorted out. He could feel her watching him, and knew that she had something to say, but he stayed quiet for now, letting her think.
"I don't want to tell him," Ginny slowly said. There was no doubt what she was referring to.
"That's good," Harry replied shortly. "Because we're not."
When he was dressed, he turned back around to her, seeing the conflict and uncertainty in her eyes. She looked just as confused as he felt.
"We're doing the right thing," he insisted, glancing into James' crib. He was awake, but lying quietly for once.
She took a shaky breath, her eyes watering. "We don't even know the full story."
Harry sighed to himself, knowing that Ginny needed answers. Turning away from her, he tried to think as he collected his wallet and pulled on some shoes, stalling as he began to reorganise a few of their belongings.
"Don't you even want to see him?" she asked tentatively. "Don't you want to talk to him?"
"No," Harry said harshly. "He betrayed us! Teddy could have been killed! We'll all be better off if we never have to speak his name again, alright?"
Ginny didn't have an answer to this, and the tension in the air as thick enough to cut with a knife. An entire abyss of unspoken grief and hurt lay between them, filled with all the questions Harry was too afraid to hear the answers to.
"Can we just take this one thing at a time?" he requested in exasperation. "Haven't we got enough to worry about, without worrying about him as well?"
Very slowly, Ginny began to nod in agreement, although reluctant to accept what he had said. She knew better than to argue the point. The two of them stayed up in the room for a few minutes, straightening things up as James began to fuss, but it was only the sound of Teddy downstairs that prompted them to return. Hearing his frightened voice, Harry tossed aside the coat he was hanging up and went down stairs, where Arthur was trying his best to reassure Teddy.
"Ah, see? There he is," Arthur said in relief, pointing to Harry who had just appeared. "I told you he was still here."
Teddy looked at him accusingly. "Where were you?" he demanded, his face red and his eyes wet.
"I was upstairs," Harry explained with a sigh, suddenly feeling exhausted. "How are the chickens?"
"You said you'd be here!"
"I was!" he insisted, taking Teddy's hand and leading him to the back door to take off his messy boots. "Look at this mess you made on Nana's clean floor, silly," Harry laughed, placing the boots outside the back door.
"Whoops," Teddy muttered, looking at the mud he had tracked in.
"Go get the dust pan," Harry said with a forced smile. "Quick, before she sees."
Obediently he raced off into the pantry, rustling around and looking for the dustpan as Arthur came over to Harry to explain.
"Sorry. He just suddenly raced off inside," Arthur apologised, taking off his own boots. "When he didn't see you, he got a bit upset."
"It's alright," Harry assured him, watching as Teddy carefully swept up the worst of the mud. When he finished, Harry flicked his wand and cleaned it up properly, thanking Teddy for his good job. "Go and see if Aunty M is finished with her breakfast."
Teddy raced into the living room next, returning with Hermione's empty plate while her tea cup and saucer floated behind him. Putting it in the sink, Teddy took Harry's hand and dragged him into the lounge room where he had somehow managed to have a book waiting. Sitting down opposite Ron and Hermione, Harry and Teddy curled up and began reading “Wonderful William the Warlock”. They were soon joined by Molly and Arthur, and then Ginny and James, who was promptly passed into Hermione's arms. They each sat content for some time, talking quietly and fussing over James as Harry and Teddy read, and by the time Harry nearly had to leave they had read the book three times.
"I have to go now, okay?" Harry reminded Teddy, who was watching James in distraction.
"Do you really have to go?" Teddy had whinged, looking more and more worried as Harry took a handful of Floo powder, ready to follow Ron to the Ministry.
"Yes, I do. You've got some jobs to do while I'm gone, alright? You can go upstairs and make the bed with Mum, and you still need to brush your teeth from breakfast."
"Alright," he reluctantly agreed, turning around and glancing at James. He lay on the living room floor, having his nappy changed by an overly delighted Hermione. "But first I have to help Aunty M."
"Alright, I love you," Harry had said, kissing him on the cheek.
"I love you t- No, not like that!" he suddenly cried out to Hermione, rushing over to correct whatever she had done wrong. "You'll get poo on you!"
With Teddy distracted he had made his departure with haste, and he reassured himself that Teddy would be so busy he wouldn't even notice he was gone. Teddy thought himself to be somewhat of an expert nappy changer, always giving instructions to George and Angelina when they visited with Freddy. With that to comfort him, Harry focused on what he was doing now, unconsciously touching the pocket of his jeans to make sure he still had the slip of parchment Ginny had written on for him.
Just as they had upon his arrival the morning before, cameras flashed in his eyes as Harry, Ron and Arthur arrived in the Ministry by the fireplaces. Security personnel were already there, clearing a path for the three men to take through the atrium and towards the war memorial where Harry would be speaking. Reporters clamoured to get to him, thrusting their microphones and voice recorders as close to him as possible, though they likely only received Arthur and Ron's stern instructions to stay back. Harry stayed completely silent, his head down and avoiding the flashes as he allowed Arthur to be his point of reference as to where they were going.
Teddy's name rang out across the atrium, people vying for Harry's response as it was echoed by Malfoy's name, reflecting the rumours that had been circulating all of last night and this morning. Taking a deep breath, Harry reminded himself of why he was there, of what he had to settle. People needed reassurance, the news that all was well again, even though it really wasn't. For those reasons, he didn't allow himself to turn back, though he really wanted to be back at the Burrow again. Reaching the war memorial, they greeted Tim who was waiting for them. To Harry's great surprise, Tim hugged him tightly, his old skinny arms stronger than they looked.
"Good job," he said gruffly. "Now don't implode your career, alright?"
"Yes, Tim," Harry replied dutifully, knowing he was going to do just that.
Tim headed off to the small platform that he had arranged, as Kingsley arrived late, hastening towards them. Waiting quietly, Ron and Arthur gave Harry a few words of encouragement as Tim spoke to the waiting crowd, bringing them all into order.
"Mr Potter is going to deliver a brief statement, but he will not be answering questions. Following Mr Potter will be the Minister for Magic, and you can direct your questions towards him."
Following Tim's prompt, Harry stepped up onto the platform and moved towards the speaker’s podium, removing the parchment from his pocket. The crowd was larger than yesterday morning, but were as equally silent as they waited for Harry to begin. Pausing for a moment, he looked out amongst the people waiting with bated breath, wondering if there were any Death Eaters there listening, as Narcissa Malfoy had been yesterday.
"Thank you for your patience," Harry began, his voice magnified and easily heard by all. "I'm here speaking on behalf of myself and Ginny, and it's with great relief that we can deliver good news. Yesterday afternoon, our son's abductor set him free, and he has been safely returned to us, unharmed. Teddy was found wandering the grounds of Hogwarts by two students, Sally Yew and Michael Stone, who will receive their reward as offered yesterday.
"I'd like to thank our family for the overwhelming support they have shown us throughout Teddy's kidnapping. They have risked their lives and put themselves in direct harm in order to protect Teddy, and we cannot express how grateful we are for their support. In addition to our family, we would like to thank members of the Order of the Phoenix, who upon hearing of our ordeal dropped everything and came to our aid. Without them and our family, I can honestly say that Teddy would still be in danger.
"Teddy is currently at home with family, and for now we are confident that the threat to him has passed. As such, our main priority is to be together as a family, and for this reason I will not be returning to the Quidditch league this season, despite my reinstatement by the Arrows board. As for the future, Ginny and I cannot be sure what our priorities will be as a family, but we thank you for your support and understanding during this difficult time."
There was an uproar of shouting and questions as Harry stepped away from the podium, folding up the parchment and putting it back into his pocket. As Ron and Kingsley took his place, Harry allowed Arthur to guide him off the platform and to the side where they would wait. As Kingsley called everyone to attention and then began speaking, Arthur patted Harry on the shoulder.
"You spoke very well," he said encouragingly. "How does it feel? Your last day out in public?"
"It feels right," Harry replied after a long pause.
They began listening, Kingsley launching straight into the details of the Azkaban breakout and security measures already enforced, doing his best to reassure the public despite having already disbanded the APE department pending an investigation. Though Kingsley didn't go into great detail, Harry knew that Snape was going to make a small fortune from all of the Veritaserum that he would be asked to make.
Feeling Arthur tapping his shoulder, Harry looked around curiously, and followed his gaze to their right. Sirius was standing only a few yards away, approaching them slowly as the security guards let him pass. Swearing under his breath, Harry's heart soared as he looked him over properly, assessing his injuries...or lack of injuries. Despite having been missing since Tuesday, Sirius appeared to be in good health, though as he drew closer Harry could see the sheer exhaustion on his face.
"Where have you been?" he demanded quietly, rushing to meet him halfway.
"Oh, you know," Sirius replied cryptically, immediately engulfing Harry in his arms. He broke away quickly, scrutinising his son. "Are you alright?"
"Am I?" Harry said incredulously, uncomfortably aware of all the people watching, and the few brief flashes of a camera. He lowered his voice. "You've been gone since Tuesday!"
"I know," Sirius nodded apologetically. "But I'm fine, so is Sharon."
"So where have you been?"
"Little Hangleton mostly," he answered just as quietly. "They released me yesterday morning. Hermione's alright, is she? I thought I heard her there."
"She's alright," Harry hastened to assure him. "Mad-Eye got her out, she's safe now. Where have you been?" he asked imperatively.
Sirius looked highly uncomfortable for a moment, and giving Arthur a short wave he put his arm on Harry's shoulder and began leading him towards an Apparation point. "We need to talk, in private."
Immediately, Harry understood, remembering the notes he had found in Sirius' filing cabinet the day before. "You've been with him, haven't you."
"Yes," he said quietly.
"How could you!" Harry said in anger, pulling away from him. "You know what he did to us!"
"Yes, I do," Sirius said as they came to a stop, finding privacy. "Teddy was safe, and it was full moon last night. I couldn't leave him."
"You should have!"
"He needed me," Sirius insisted. "If the Death Eaters got to him, Remus would be dead."
"He should be!" Harry said harshly, hating the look of pain in Sirius' eyes. "He betrayed us."
Not arguing this, Sirius dug his hand into his pocket and withdrew a glass vial, and there was no question that it contained memories. "He wants to explain."
"No," Harry said loudly, still aware of the eyes that were watching them.
"He deserves the right to explain," Sirius said fiercely. "He deserves us to kiss his feet!"
Harry faltered at this, having not expected such a fierce defence of Remus. "Give me one good reason as to why I should kiss the feet of a man who took my son away."
Sirius took a deep breath, grabbing Harry's hand and pushing the vial into it. "Because he was protecting both of you."
The glass vial was warm in his hand, the silvery memories swirling around. Despite his hatred and conviction that he would never forgive Remus, curiosity stirred in Harry's belly, and the need to know everything that he had squashed down arose within him. Looking at the vial, he knew this was the explanation to everything...closure.
"What does he want from us?" Harry asked, making Sirius look him in the eye. "He's not getting Teddy. Not one piece of him."
"He knows that."
Hesitating, Harry clenched the vial as he looked around the atrium. Arthur had followed them a little way, but was tactful enough to stay out of earshot. After a long moment Harry gave him a brief nod, waving as though to dismiss him. Understanding, Arthur turned back and returned to the podium where Ron was speaking now.
"Come with me to Tetbury," Harry requested of Sirius, apparating a moment later.
The front yard of his home was covered in another fine layer of snow, and Harry didn't need to cast any charms to know that the area was empty. He could feel that no one was there, that the home he and Ginny loved was completely abandoned. Hearing Sirius appear close by, Harry headed off around the house towards the back yard, climbing over the low fence he and Ron had built to contain Teddy.
"What are we doing here?" Sirius asked in concern, following Harry towards his shed.
"I need a penseive," he said impatiently, heading towards the shed. "Can you just keep watch?"
"Sure," Sirius agreed, watching as Harry opened the door to the shed and went inside. He stopped Harry from closing the door, and looked in at the mess in concern. "What happened in here?"
"It's not mine," Harry said, knowing Sirius referred to the blood on the floor.
"Small comfort," Sirius muttered, standing in the doorway and watching.
Trying to ignore Sirius' concerned eyes scanning the interior, Harry stepped over the broken bench and debris, avoiding the dried pool of blood. He passed by the bloodied hammer he had used to accidentally kill Luther Fallacks, feeling an unwanted surge of remorse. He wondered exactly where Arthur had buried the wizard, knowing he ought to tell someone. Fallacks’ mother would want to bury her son...she should have that small comfort, regardless of who he was.
Sorting through the mess, Harry found a clean hammer and picked it up, carrying it over towards the wall he had already half torn apart looking for Voldemort's wand. Opening one of the overhead cupboards, he went through the same routine as he had early yesterday morning, completely emptying it out before climbing up onto the bench. Ignoring Sirius, he used the claw to break through the plaster, tearing it away from the wall and creating a hole large enough for his task. To his relief, his bounty did not put up the fight that Voldemort's wand had, and he withdrew his old school bag from inside the wall.
Clearing off a space on the bench, Harry upended the bag and tipped out the remnants of Voldemort's Horcruxes. The old diary, the ring, the goblet, both lockets and the diadem scattered out onto the bench, allowing Harry to carefully withdraw Dumbledore's penseive. This one item held immense power over Harry, still containing the memories Snape had given him during the war, those which told the truth about Harry being a Horcrux. To Harry, these memories had the potential to expose him completely, and though he knew there was no shame in what Voldemort had accidentally done to him, it was his secret, and his alone. Not even Ginny knew the whole truth. He had protected Dumbledore's penseive just as much as he had protected Voldemort's wand.
Pointing his wand deep into the penseive, he pushed Snape's and Dumbledore's memories aside to make room for those in the vial, Remus'. Opening the stopper, Harry hesitated for a moment, glancing over at Sirius who was avoiding eye contact.
"Have you seen these?" he asked.
Sirius nodded his head, looking at Harry properly. "The last memory is mine."
Hesitating a few moments longer, Harry steeled himself for whatever he might see, for whatever excuse Remus was trying to give them. Anger burned inside him, but he knew he would have to give Remus the chance to explain if Harry was ever going to get over this. Tipping the memories into the pensieve he swirled them around a little, knowing they would present themselves to him in the intended order. Taking a deep breath, Harry leant over and plunged his face into the penseive, feeling it jerking him inside.
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