Chapter 32 : Chapter 31 Epilogue
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"Good morning," Harry whispered, kissing James on top of the head. "You finally went to sleep..."
James grumbled at him in reply, grunting loudly as he wriggled again and found his thumb to suck on. Listening to him slurp and dribble around his thumb, Harry lay content for a little longer, closing his eyes. However it wasn't long before James grew bored of this, squirming again and making it clear that he was hungry. With a yawn that came with being up half the night, Harry hauled himself out of the rocking chair and began to attend to his son's needs. He glanced outside through the open window, the curtains billowing as a gentle summer breeze swept through. It was going to be a nice day... Replacing James' nappy, Harry dressed him and lay him back down on the change table, observing his own little miracle as he did often did.
"I don't know why we bother dressing you," he cooed with a grin, leaning down over James and carefully poking his finger into his mouth. Pressing gently, he assessed the sore and tender gums that had kept James up all night, trying to find the top of a second tooth being cut. He smiled as he felt the small ridges that had finally broken through the gum, accompanying the other tooth that had broken through last week. "You're only going to trash yourself at breakfast."
James seemed to agree with this statement, unable to argue in his own defence. Picking him up again, Harry headed downstairs, glancing into Teddy's empty bedroom as he went. It was so strange to see his son's bedroom empty, to see his bed neatly made and his belongings untouched. A familiar ache swept through Harry's chest, once again wondering when he would see his child again...it had been so long since he had held him in his arms....weeks or months...years even.
Rolling his eyes, Harry shook his head to himself and went downstairs, glad that Ginny wasn't there to tease him about how soft he was. Trying not to miss Teddy too terribly, Harry reminded himself that he would be home that morning, that he was only staying with Molly and Arthur for a sleep over. Despite the innocence of his absence, their family home felt strange without Teddy there to fill it with laughter and loud footsteps. After all they had been through seven months ago, Harry couldn't help but remember the pain of Teddy's absence.
The first time that Teddy had stayed with Molly and Arthur after they had moved out of the Burrow, all three of them had been a nervous wreck, though Harry and Ginny had put up a good front. It had taken days of reassurances and promises for Teddy to actually agree to the sleepover, and though he had tried to change his mind the moment he saw Harry packing his bag, Teddy seemed to summon an extra ounce of courage that a five year old should not yet have. Despite this, Harry ended up staying at the Burrow long after the time when he was supposed to drop off Teddy, he and Molly somehow being convinced that Harry needed to stay and read Teddy to sleep. How he managed to negotiate that, Harry would never understand, but it was turning out that Teddy could now talk his way out of or into anything he so desired.
Once Teddy was asleep and Harry returned home, it was he who lay awake the entire night, being kept company by Ginny who was equally unsettled by Teddy's absence. Neither of them slept well, and though they tried not to show their anxiety, they still arrived at the Burrow the next morning before Teddy had even awoken.
"Go home," Molly had scolded the both of them, beating Harry away from the staircase with a charmed tea towel. "You'll spoil the whole point of the sleep over if he wakes up to his Mum and Dad here."
"Okay, but how did h-"
Harry intervened, knowing exactly what to say. "But Mum, we're just-"
"Harry Potter, don't try to butter me up by calling me Mum," she scolded him next, though she couldn't hide the smile she held for that term. "You told him nine o'clock, not six! Go home!"
They had reluctantly returned home, passing the next three hours by unpacking the remainder of the unopened boxes that still sat in the hallway. It was their first week after moving out of the Burrow and into the house Sirius had purchased for he and Harry so many years ago. Though neither of them were currently working, the process of unpacking was slow and steady at best, feeling out of place in the new environment. Teddy had loved the house, thrilled by the fact that Harry had lived there with Sirius once, even if just for a few weeks.
When they had returned to the Burrow at precisely nine o'clock, they were unsurprised to see Teddy sitting in the living room with his bag at his feet, fully dressed and ready to return home.
"Hi Dad," he had said the moment Harry crossed the threshold. He rushed over to him, immediately clinging to his right leg. "I'm ready to go."
"I can see that," Harry smiled, passing James to Ginny while accepting Molly's offer of tea. "Good job being so organised."
"Aren't we going?" he said in protest, watching as his parents began to settle in for tea and a biscuit.
"Hmmm, not just yet," he smiled, glancing at Ginny. Now that they were with their son again, they were more comfortable pressing him to stay a little longer. "Nana's made tea, we'll stay for a little while."
The sleep overs following that had progressively gotten easier on Teddy, though he still refused offers to stay with any other family for the night. Previously a sleep over with Sirius and Sharon was met with a rousing cheer of delight, a stark contrast to the sharp "No, thank you," Teddy had replied upon their offer. Not even George and Angelina, or Bill and Fleur had any luck coaxing a sleep over out of their nephew, and so for now they had stopped pressing the idea.
Their current object of focus was Teddy attending primary school now, their next hurdle towards getting him back into a place where he was comfortable away from his parents. It was an absolute nightmare when Harry had announced he was returning to training in April, with Teddy not taking to that change well at all. There had been tears and tantrums for days until he came around to the idea of Harry being back at work after months of being at home, and they were determined to make the transition into school easier than that.
Throughout the summer holidays there was a weekly playgroup at the little school, with only the parents and children starting kindergarten in attendance. The first time they had attended as a family, Teddy had literally wound his arm around Harry's knee and refused to let go. On more than one occasion he was forced to remove Teddy's thumb from his mouth, an old coping mechanism that had made an expected recurrence over the last few months. Now though, he had made good friends and gotten to know his teachers, and so far the greatest anxiety he had expressed was about whether or not Carter would be there each week.
"Is Carter here?" he would ask anxiously the moment their car pulled into the school parking lot. From the backseat, he was already craning his neck to look around. "D-dad, is Carter going to be here?"
"Yes, mate," Harry sighed, trying to be patient. He dreaded the day that Carter missed playgroup or school."I'm sure he will be."
The moment Teddy and Carter saw each other, there would be screams as the two boys ran to each other, completely abandoning their parents in favour of one another. Harry and Carter's mum would look at each other in exasperation, making polite jokes about the budding 'bromance' and what they had packed their children for lunch.
Trying not to check his watch and count down until Teddy's return, Harry placed James into his highchair and passed him his sippy cup of water. Setting about preparing breakfast for him, Harry remembered at the last minute to cast the necessary charms to keep his clothing clean. The new pup Hagrid had given them last month came dashing into the kitchen, hungrily sitting beneath James’ highchair and licking his lips, waiting for the baby to drop some food. An early birthday present, Roger the Dalmatian was already proving to be a nice new addition to their family.
As James hungrily worked his way through his breakfast of crushed Weetbix, Harry looked around the kitchen that had been his family's home for the last five months. As soon as things had settled down, Sirius chose not to renew the lease for the Muggle family who were renting, allowing Harry and Ginny to move in. It wasn’t exactly Harry’s first choice of a family home, considering what had happened there during the way, but he forced himself to look past it. Now was not the time to be picky..
At first it was strange to be there again, with the last time being more than five years ago during the war. Nevertheless, it was a home now....his home that he shared with Ginny. Returning to Tetbury had not been an option at the moment, and despite how much Harry loved that home, he doubted they would return any time soon. The memories of what had happened there were too much, too real and close to him. It was currently being rented by Muggles, providing Harry and Ginny a source of income when there had been absolutely nothing to fall back on.
They had almost lost everything during Teddy's abduction, save for a hundred or so merciful pounds Ginny still had in her own bank account. Somehow knowing what he got paid and what he had left after purchasing the house in Tetbury, the Death Eaters had made sure to clean them out completely. Harry should be grateful though, he reminded himself. It could be much worse...legally it ought to be. After quitting the Arrows midseason, he legally owed Appleby the remainder of his salary that had been paid at the beginning of the season, not to mention a hefty claim for damages they could have slapped on him for breaching his contract. Despite his client being broke, Timothy Green had stuck by Harry throughout all of this, managing to negotiate terms of a new contract for next season.
He would be taking a significant pay cut in order to pay back the salary owed, but in twelve months time he would be back in good standing. Being forced back into playing Quidditch was not something Harry wanted to consider in the months previous, not when Teddy needed the stability of having both his parents around, but there was no other choice presented to them. They had briefly considered Ginny going straight back to work in February, but eventually chose to let things settle down, knowing they could depend on their family if things got tough.
After all, as Sirius frequently pointed out, his money was just Harry's inheritance, and he and Sharon had plenty of Galleons to spare. It had been Sirius who had paid the reward money to the students who had found Teddy at Hogwarts, and Sirius who had quietly placed a significant sum of galleons into Harry’s Gringotts vault for him to live from. Nevertheless, they couldn't mooch off their family forever, and so despite having suddenly fallen pregnant again, Ginny too would be returning to work. She would go back part time once Teddy had settled in to school, and they would live off her wages while using Harry's salary to recover financially from their losses. With the next few months of their life outlined, Harry finally felt as though he could relax again.
Hearing sounds from their bedroom, Harry set about preparing a cup of coffee for his pregnant wife, knowing that caffeine friendly tea was not going to cut it in the mornings. A few minutes later Ginny entered the kitchen, Harry's stomach doing a backflip when he saw that she was wearing his discarded pyjama shirt, which sat about her rear at a thoroughly indecent length. She smirked when she saw the look he was giving her, a familiar look that had resulted in their second unplanned pregnancy. Harry hastily corrected himself...not unplanned...surprise pregnancy.
"Happy birthday," she smiled, making her way over to him and kissing him deeply, her hand going to the back of his head. He smiled against her lips, tasting her toothpaste and lip balm. As he had every morning since she had told him of their second surprise pregnancy, he pressed his hand to the front of her tummy. She was far from showing yet, but she appreciated the gesture.
"It is now."
She looked at him funnily, trying not to laugh as she ruffled the top of his head. "You have Weetbix on your ear."
He groaned, wiping his ear clean while he finished making coffee. "Say...Good morning Mummy," he told James, watching in amusement as his eyes followed his mother around the room.
"Say....Mum mum mum mum," Ginny prompted him, sighing when he only made a cheerful growl.
"He's going to say dad first."
"Is not," she grumbled, still annoyed that Teddy had started saying dad first.
They wasted the morning away at leisure, eating breakfast outside as Vlad wound himself around their ankles, loudly waiting for them to drop some food for him. Harry's initial dislike for the Kneazle who only wanted him when hungry, was slowly turning into something of a mutual tolerance, though he wouldn't go as far as to say fondness. Despite Vlad's good company and his dedication to watching over Teddy and James, Harry couldn't help but miss Tank, though he tried hard not to think about him. It was trivial to miss his dog, regardless of how much he loved him, when he was lucky enough to have his son safe and sound. Thinking about him now, remembered the leash and fresh packet of tennis balls Ginny had tried to hide in the drawer where she kept her tampons, and the excitement of pretending he didn’t know Hagrid was bringing him a new pup.
"It's ten o'clock," Harry muttered, checking his watch. Beside him, Roger looked up and gave a short bark, reassuring his owner.
"Yes," Ginny confirmed patiently, knowing what he was trying to say.
Still sitting outside in the sunshine, Harry focused his attention on James, who lay on the grass beside him fast asleep in what Harry liked to call a 'food coma.' Conjuring an umbrella to shade his son, Harry tried to distract himself from checking his watch again and again, but it was too difficult to remain distracted. Teddy was supposed to be home at ten 'clock...Arthur was normally so prompt.
"Ginny," he began in worry, looking at his watch again. "It's ten o'..."
"It's three minutes past ten!" she scolded him. "Stop worrying you old man."
"It's my birthday, I'll worry if I want to," he grumbled petulantly, sighing to himself. Surely it was later than three minutes past...what was taking Arthur so long?
It was eight minutes after ten when they heard the familiar sound of Teddy's thunderous footsteps in the house, and with great relief Harry turned around and looked inside through the patio doors. Teddy was home, and judging by the look on his face he was excited.
"Mum!" he shouted, racing out to greet them with Arthur close in tow. "Dad, look what I got!"
"What?" Harry asked, preparing for the hug that didn't come.
Teddy skidded to a stop just short of them, grabbing the front of his shirt and showing them the badge pinned there. Dark blue, Harry recognised the badge as that belonging to a junior pilot. "Look, a pilot gave this to me!"
"A pilot? Like on a plane?" Harry asked, pretending to be shocked.
"Yes! That was my special treat!" he nearly shouted, showing Ginny next. "Grandad took me to the airport this morning! We got to watch the aeroplanes landing and taking off! And then a nice lady let us look inside one of the planes while they were cleaning it!"
"Can you die happy now?" Ginny asked Arthur, looking up at him.
Arthur's excitement was obvious. Trying to contain himself, he settled for a silent nod before finally bursting. "I've never seen anything like it! It was rather overwhelming, all the lights and buttons and screens and controls...and here I thought cars were complicated."
Desiring coffee, they moved inside, avidly discussing Arthur's next project of obtaining a small aircraft to work on and tamper with, though Ginny did point out he would require a pretty hefty extension charm on his shed.
"Guess who they let sit in the pilot's seat," Teddy asked, his eyes full of excitement and mirth.
"You?" Harry guessed.
"Yeah, of course," he rolled his eyes. "But Grandad got to sit there too. He got to put their headphones on, and they let him flick a few switches. Apparently they don't let anyone do that, but they let us."
Catching Arthur’s eye, Harry grinned at him, though for some reason he felt a flicker of apprehension. Sensing Harry’s perceptiveness, Arthur smiled politely as he put his hand into his pocket, withdrawing a miniature brown box.
"I have something to pass on to you, Harry," he smiled, placing the tiny box onto the coffee table and tapping it with his wand. The box grew, dominating the small coffee table. Looking at it, Harry's heart did a somersault as he recognised his Aunt Petunia's neat handwriting. "Your Aunt posted this to us at the Burrow, I suspect she had our address from the letter we sent her about the Quidditch World Cup."
"What's in it?" Teddy asked curiously, rushing over and reaching for the top flap of cardboard.
"Uh uh!" Harry said hastily, grabbing Teddy's hand to stop him. "Is that yours?"
"No," he admitted in disappointment. "But Dad, it's probably a birthday present."
Though he had no idea what it was, Harry highly doubted it was a birthday gift. "It's not a birthday present." Standing now, he picked up the box and tried to gauge what was in it by the weight, which was somewhat heavy. Worried about what his aunt may have sent him, he placed the box on the ground and slid it around the side of the couch where he didn't have to look at it.
"Thanks Arthur," he said politely, trying not to frown.
Arthur left soon after, apologising that he really ought to go to work before someone noticed he hadn’t come in. Despite the strange box from his aunt, it was a relief to have Teddy at home once again, and after being wished happy birthday and presented with a hand drawn birthday card with a shark riding a Firebolt on the front, Teddy had gone upstairs to unpack his overnight bag.
"Feel better now, Worry Wart?" Ginny teased him, sitting down with James and beginning to nurse.
"Yes," he admitted, knowing he would never admit that to anyone but her. Taking a seat too, he pulled her feet onto his lap and began rubbing them.
She groaned in delight, distracting James for a moment. "That's nice," she thanked him. "Shouldn't I be rubbing your feet? It's your birthday after all."
"You can owe me one tonight."
"When the kids are in bed?" she joked, reminding him that James was not at all content going to sleep at night the last week.
"I'll sedate him if I have to," Harry smiled, listening as Teddy descended the stairs. "How much longer do I have to share your boobs with him?"
She suddenly flinched, reaching up and readjusting her breast in James' hungry mouth. "Not much longer if he keeps doing that," she scolded him. "Merlin that tooth is sharp."
"The other one is coming through beside it."
Frowning, Ginny distracted James from his task and poked her finger into his mouth, feeling his bottom gums for the top of the other tooth. "Hmmm...how did I not notice that one too?"
"Wasn't there last night."
Teddy came bouncing into the living room, hastily settling himself onto Ginny's outstretched legs and peering at his brother. "Has he got another tooth?" he said in awe.
Ginny pulled down James' bottom lip to show Teddy, but James was unable to tolerate being distracted any further. Turning his head away and letting out a cross growl, he started fussing and kicking until his mother allowed him to return to nursing. With James content for now, Harry turned and looked over the arm of the couch, pulling back the top of the cardboard box before he could think twice. There was an array of things inside, papers and miscellaneous items. With his heart lurching, Harry saw one of the plastic toy soldiers that had belonged to him, the soldiers that had sat on his makeshift shelf in the cupboard under the stairs.
"Come on," Ginny prompted, knowing she was likely pressing a nerve. "Let's see what's in it."
"Yeah Dad," Teddy said in excitement, coming around the couch and looking into the box. "Hey, what's this?"
Batting Teddy's hand away as he reached inside, Harry sighed as he dragged the box around to the front of the couch, sitting up properly and opening the flaps. Rummaging through the items, he began by removing the few toy soldiers he could see, a few of them missing limbs or their heads twisted off by Dudley, and yet they had been Harry's pride and joy as a child.
"What is it?" Teddy asked, picking up a soldier and turning it over.
"It used to be mine," Harry smiled. "When I was a kid like you."
"A kid?" he said in awe, his mouth gaping as he watched Harry pull out some bent football cards, three pet rocks and a broken kaleidoscope.
Fixing the kaleidoscope with a tap of his wand, he passed it to Teddy. "Look through the eye piece, and turn the end."
"Woah," Teddy said in awe, looking at the patterns and colours he could see.
"Are these all yours?" Ginny asked, sitting up with James to get a better look.
He nodded quietly, carefully removing a heavy folder of plastic sleeves. Looking at the first sleeve, he smiled as he recognised the emblem of his primary school, the writing at the top showing this to be his yearly report card.
"I can't believe she kept this."
"Of course she did," Ginny replied, still not completely understanding the depth of his messy childhood. "She loves you."
Harry was about to tell her with all honesty, that his Aunt never loved him for one second, but he bit his tongue. Ginny would not understand. She would only try to reassure him that he was loved as a child, that perhaps he simply couldn't see it. Maybe that was true, he sometimes thought to himself, but he was the only one who knew the true reality of his childhood, and the disappointment it left him with today.
Flicking through the folder, he took note of the carefully arranged school reports, two for each year he had been at primary school. When he found school reports from his first, second and third year at Hogwarts he nearly fell off the couch, truly unable to believe that his Aunt would have kept contraband like that.
"Why does it only go up to third year?" Ginny asked curiously, smirking at one of the remarks Flitwick had made about Harry's tendency to not pay attention to theory work.
"Dumbledore started sending my reports to Sirius," he replied, passing the folder to her and opened the next. "Oh Merlin..." he said in complete shock.
"What? What is it-Ohhhh," she sighed, beaming as she looked at the photograph of Harry dressed for his first day at school. "That's you?"
"This is so embarrassing," he muttered, turning the page and finding his school photographs from each year of primary school.
"It's beautiful," Ginny insisted, her eyes glued to each photograph. "You said there were no photos of you as a child."
He continued flicking through the photographs of himself, finding that there were at least a dozen candid shots. Somehow, Harry suspected his Aunt had taken these photographs in secret, as he could not imagine his Uncle encouraging the shots. Judging by each photograph, they had been taken when no one was looking, perhaps when his Uncle's attention was focused on Dudley. Against all that he had ever thought about his Aunt, perhaps she had felt something more than indifference toward him.
"Weren't we going for a walk today?" he said suddenly, clenching his jaw. The shock of what his Aunt had sent him suddenly made him feel claustrophobic, and the need for fresh air and exercise was calling to him.
"It's a bit earlier than planned, but alright, " Ginny agreed, sensing what he needed. "That sounds good."
"Okay," he said in relief, hastily packing the items back into the cardboard box.
"Dad, can I keep looking at this when we get back?" Teddy asked, still looking into the kaleidoscope.
"You can keep it," he said, getting to his feet and heading for the cupboard under the stairs. It felt like a fitting place for these items. Moving aside their array of junk, Harry nestled the box under a box of baby clothes they were setting aside before taking Roger's leash down from the hook. "Roger!"
The pup came racing inside from where he was sun baking on the verandah, jumping around and barking when he saw that Harry had his leash ready.
"Quick Ted, put your trainers on," Ginny called out from the kitchen where she was filling some drink bottles. "Harry, can you get the pram and a bag for James please."
The little family quickly collected their necessary items, and ten minutes later Harry was helping Teddy clip his helmet on.
"Remember, there's no training wheels anymore, so be careful."
"Yes, Dad," Teddy groaned, holding the handlebars tightly before setting off down the country road where they lived.
"Don't go too far ahead," Harry called out weakly, knowing what Teddy's reply would be. As Roger barked and whined, Harry grabbed his leash and fell into step beside Ginny who was pushing James in the pram. "What is Vlad doing in the pram?"
"He wanted to come too," Ginny defended him.
"Really? The cat wanted to come?"
Vlad hissed at him from where he sat at James' feet, horribly offended by being called a common cat.
"Don't antagonise him," Ginny scolded. "He wanted to come, he said so himself."
"Really? Cats can talk now?"
"Don't listen to him," Ginny crooned to Vlad, who was distinctly glaring at Harry. "He's just teasing."
She squealed when Harry pinched her bottom, playfully slapping him away and giving him a shove. "Go and catch up to Ted."
"No," Harry groaned, though he could see Roger straining at his leash to walk faster.
"You've got to train for the Quidditch Iron Man!"
"That's not until next year," he protested, kissing her on the cheek. "I promise I'll be good."
They walked for half an hour down the old country road, Teddy never riding too far ahead of them, frequently looking over his shoulder to check where his parents were. By the time Harry and Ginny reached the Muggle playground they frequented often, Teddy had abandoned his bike and was already climbing across the parallel bars, his legs swinging wildly as he yelled and hollered.
"Dad! Dad, watch this!"
"I'm watching," he said, relieved when he spotted Ron standing a few yards away against a tree. Teddy's personal body guard, Ron was never far away these days. Though they were rarely noticed by Harry and Ginny, the Order had a strict rotation of trusted members who now stood guard over the Potters. Despite the hoards of Death Eaters that had broken out of prison seven months ago, they had not faced any problems regarding safety just yet.
Glancing back to Ron, Harry smiled as he remembered the surprising announcement that he and Hermione had made to them last night. Intending to share the news of their pregnancy with their friends first, Harry and Ginny had invited them around for dinner, filled with excitement. Their own excitement didn’t last long, however. The moment Hermione came through the door, the words burst from her lips.
“I’m pregnant!” she shouted, throwing her hands in the air.
“She’s pregnant!” Ron echoed enthusiastically.
It had taken only a shared glance between Harry and his wife to know that they would not announce their own pregnancy just yet. Ron and Hermione had tried so hard for so long to fall pregnant, and so for now Harry and Ginny would remain quiet, allowing their friends to bask in the excitement and nerves before making their own announcement. Now Sirius would be the first to know. He would be over later in the afternoon, and they would make their announcement to him then.
"We're a bit early," Harry commented, glancing at his watch before looking around for the visitor they normally expected.
"Just saying," he shrugged.
Relieving Ginny of the pram, Harry sat down at the end of the park bench where he always sat, and he waited patiently. He watched as Ginny let Roger off the leash, the two of them running off towards where Teddy was playing. A few minutes later Vlad grew tired of the sleeping James, and leapt down from the pram to join the others. Perfectly content, Harry sat back and gently rocked the pram, watching as Teddy navigated his way around his favourite activities. Ginny had brought the camera this time, and she snapped a few pictures of Teddy as he climbed up the slide.
"Come down with me, Mum!"
Fifteen minutes had passed by the time Harry saw their visitor approaching. As he always did, Harry tried to appear casual and uncaring as the man approached, and he was grateful for the distraction when James awoke and started fussing. Removing him from the pram, he sat James on his lap and amused him with his water bottle and a few slices of apple that Ginny had packed. Happily biting into the apple with his sharp new teeth, James sat quietly as the man came closer and sat down on the opposite end of the bench. A few minutes passed in silence, the two men watching as Teddy came down the slide with Vlad on his lap.
Harry glanced at him from the corner of his eye, watching the man whose eyes were following Teddy around the playground.
"He's cute," Remus said quietly.
"Thanks," Harry replied, watching too.
That was the extent of their conversation, the two of them sitting on opposite ends of the bench and not looking at each other. The desire to simply turn his head and look at Remus properly was in the back of his mind, but Harry feared that once he did that he would not be able to turn away. Their arrangement worked well for now, and if Harry had anything to do with it, it would be the only arrangement in place for the near future. In time, things would change. Ginny had forced Harry to re-evaluate their decisions regarding Remus and Teddy, insisting that denying Teddy knowledge of his father was unjust.
It was a few months ago when Ginny had awoken Harry in the middle of the night, rubbing the centre of his chest until he slowly awoke.
"How would you feel if it your father?"
He didn’t need to ask what she meant. Groaning, Harry sat up and turned on the light. "Ginny...it isn't my father."
"What if your father was alive, and Sirius didn't tell you?"
"That would never happen."
"What happens in twenty years? What happens when Teddy finds out the truth?"
"That won't happen."
"These things get out Harry. If not one of us, Death Eaters will spill the beans one day. How will you explain that to Teddy?"
"I'll tell him it was the right decision for him at the time."
"What if he never gets to know Remus? I know Remus doesn't deserve to know Teddy, but doesn't Teddy deserve to know Remus?"
He didn’t know what to say to that, and so had turned the light off and laid back down, facing away from her. She wasn’t the only one who had been thinking along those lines. How many times had Harry pictured that scenario? The moment when Teddy inevitably found out his father was still alive…would he be upset with Harry? Would he be mad? Frustrated by the situation, Harry knew exactly how he would feel if his own father was alive, and Sirius had kept it from him. He would never speak to Sirius again.
And so they had progressed to this. Harry was under no delusions as to where Sirius was every full moon. The first three months after Teddy’s abduction, Harry had made a point to make arrangements with Sirius on full moon, to see what he was going to do. As he expected, Sirius always cancelled on him. Now with Sirius as the middle man, they had arranged the awkward meeting at this particular park, where Remus could come and see Teddy without confusing the child. It was too soon to make any major changes in Teddy’s life, too soon to announce something that would confuse him wildly. For now, this would be enough.
As though hearing his father’s thoughts, Teddy came racing over to where Harry sat, diving for his drink bottle in the pram’s basket. His cheeks red and his lungs heaving for breath, he gulped his water quickly.
“Dad…” he panted. “I’m ready to go soon.”
“Alright,” Harry agreed, knowing Teddy still did not like to stay out long. “Another five minutes.”
Harry glanced at Remus from the corner of his eye, seeing the look of contentment on his face. Though he remained invisible to Teddy, Remus clearly felt at peace being close to his son again. When Teddy returned to continue playing, Remus waited for one more moment before getting to his feet. Without saying a word, he quietly left the way he always did.
“Come on Ted, let’s go!” Ginny called a few minutes later, rounding up their pets and heading back to where Harry waited.
“Did you have fun?” he asked Teddy as he attached the lead to Roger’s collar.
“Yes,” Teddy nodded in exhaustion. “Can I sit on your shoulders?”
“What about your bike?” Harry asked with a grin. “How will it get home?”
Teddy rolled his eyes at this question. “Silly….it can ride home itself.”
Allowing his son to climb onto his shoulders, he and Ginny set off for home. Exchanging a brief kiss, he whispered to her quietly. “Thank you.”
“What for?” she asked, kissing him again.
Harry smiled at this. He didn’t need to think back over his life long to realise how lucky he was to have her and their children.
“You know what for.”
A/N Sorry for the hasty ending, I am literally about to dash to the airport before I go overseas.
An enormous thank you to my loyal readers, and an enormous thank you to those who review! Whether it was once or twice, or with every chapter, thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement, excitement and joy that kept my writing every time.
Another enormous thank you to my beta Anne, who not only edited half a dozen chapters in two weeks, but who had stuck by me this entire story. Anne, your creativity, ideas and expertise in SPaG have taught me so much. It has been such a pleasure working with you.
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