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Chapter 61 : Year 7: The Way Home
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Amongst the people who knew Teddy, his love for his godparents and spending time at their house was common knowledge, and no one would have been surprised had they seen the scene playing out there one rainy afternoon in the end of May: Teddy’s grandmother had just sent an owl announcing she would be picking him up around four, and so Teddy was sitting on the couch with his arms crossed over his chest and his lower lip pouting in protest over having to leave.
Perhaps it was a little surprising to Harry, who was watching his godson from the doorway to the kitchen, because Teddy hadn’t had the most exciting day. It was pouring outside and they had been stuck in the house, Ginny had been off in Holyhead and a not-so-happy James had taken up most of Harry’s attention since before lunch. But there Teddy was, shooting disappointed looks in Harry’s direction, his hair getting darker by the second.
“You know we can’t keep you all to ourselves,” Harry said, using one hand to wave his wand back and forth – which, in turn, made the little Moses basket that James was lying in rock like a cradle – and the other to scratch his chin. “Your gran wants to see you too. We got to have you all weekend.”
“But Harry, she sees me all the time,” Teddy pointed out.
“She still misses you when you’re not there. Besides, you’ll see us tomorrow, won’t you? For Uncle Percy’s wedding.”
Indeed, to Mrs Weasley’s delight, Percy and Audrey were finally getting married. There hadn’t been a proper proposal, really – Audrey had described how the “subject came up” over breakfast one morning, Percy had said, “It kind of feels like we’re married already,” to which Audrey had replied that they might as well make it official then. Fleur had called it the least romantic proposal ever, but Mrs Weasley was extatic nonetheless. Perhaps her husband was the most excited, though, because Audrey wanted to get married in the church that her Muggle parents went to, and boring proposal or not, Mr Weasley was quite sure it would be the most spectacular wedding he had ever attended.
Hermione had not been very keen on the idea of having the entire Weasley side of the family come to a Muggle wedding – “Not unless you want a dead sure way to break the Statue of Secrecy, Percy!” – and Percy had been far from generous with his invitations. Only his immediate family was coming, and Teddy, after getting a long lecture from both Percy and Audrey on how he was not allowed to change his appearance all day.
“Maybe,” Harry said, “you’ll get to use some of those dance moves that Ginny taught you last night. You could ask Vic to dance and show her what you’ve learned.”
Teddy, suddenly forgetting to be angry, laughed nervously. “I can’t ask Vicky to dance! She’s a girl!”
Harry chuckled. “So is Ginny, but you didn’t mind dancing with her!”
“That’s different,” said Teddy stubbornly, becoming very serious again.
“You know who would probably have said that when he was your age? My godfather, Sirius. You know him from my photo album, right? He was your dad’s and my dad’s best friend too.”
“What happened to him?” Teddy asked.
Harry stopped moving his wand, and after checking that James was actually asleep and didn’t need to be rocked any longer, he walked over to his godson and sat down next to him on the couch.
“He died,” he said sadly, “like your parents did.”
“I don’t know how they died,” Teddy admitted. “Gran doesn’t want to talk about it.”
“What?” Harry’s exclaim was loud enough to make Teddy jump to his feet and James stir in his basket. “Sorry,” he said quickly, lowering his voice. “Your grandmother really hasn’t told you how your parents died?” Teddy shook his head and sat back down. “Did she tell you about a wizard called Voldemort?”
“Well, he was a really, really evil person,” Harry said. “Most people didn’t like him, but there were some who did. They tried to help him win others over so that he could rule over everyone else.”
“But that didn’t happen, did it?” said Teddy worriedly.
“It could have,” Harry said. “But we defeated him.”
“Not just me,” Harry said. “Most people we know helped. Your mum and dad helped. But during the last battle, the one where we finally got rid of Voldemort, some of the bad people who supported him killed your parents.”
“Harry – James – Potter!”
This time, both Teddy and Harry were so startled that they jumped to their feet, only to find that Ginny had appeared in the fireplace, dressed in her Quidditch robes, her hair sticking to her sweaty forehead and a very angry look on her face.
“Tell me that I heard wrong,” she hissed, “and you did not just tell your six-year-old godson those awful things – he’ll have nightmares for months – what were you thinking?”
“Ginny,” Harry said, reaching out his hands as if to grab her and calm her down, “he asked what happened to Remus and Tonks–“
“–and you thought he was old enough to hear it all, did you? Merlin Harry, you’re acting exactly like Sirius did, and you were fifteen! Teddy is just six – they didn’t make us his godparents to scar him for life, you know!”
“If Remus were here, he would have–“
“Cursed you? Yes, probably! And you’d deserve it…”
Ginny took a deep breath and was just about to continue yelling when a loud cry distracted her, and she bent over the little basket on the floor to pick up her son, who had waken up from the noise. In the same moment, Teddy lifted a finger and pointed out the window, making his godparents aware of the fact that Andromeda was just walking through the gate leading into their frontyard. Ginny, holding James to her chest and hushing him, shot Harry one last dark glare and said, “This isn’t over,” before opening the door to greet Teddy’s grandmother with a wide, although slightly strained, smile. “Andie! Teddy’s been so good this weekend, you wouldn’t believe it!”
As it turned out, Teddy wasn’t the only one leaving a house he so loved that day. Only a forty-minute Muggle ride away, Mary Perkins was just walking out her front door with a regretful sigh, her hand lingering on the doorknob a little longer than usual, and her eyes refusing to turn away from what had been her home the last thirty-five years. Like Teddy, she wasn’t leaving forever – in fact, she was going to be back that same night – but her daughter had shown her an ad in the Daily Prophet that morning and told her that her front porch would be knee-deep in letters from potential buyers within days.
Just as Mrs Perkins was raising her wand to lock the door behind her, a voice called out, and she froze, thinking that maybe they were already there – the buyers, that was. Maybe they were going to take her house from her already.
She looked up to see a somewhat familiar young couple walking towards her. It was the man who was familiar, though she couldn’t quite place him until he was standing right in front of her.
“Oh,” she said, “you must be one of Molly and Arthur’s little ones.”
The man smiled and reached out a hand. “Ron,” he said. “Long time no see, Mrs Perkins. This is my wife, Hermione.”
“Nice to meet you,” Hermione smiled as she shook hands with the older woman, who then reached back to open her door again.
“Fancy a cup of tea?” she offered, and Ron nodded enthusiastically. Hermione looked more hesitant.
“If you were heading out, we could come back another time,” she offered, but Mrs Perkins smiled and shook her head.
“I’m not in a rush,” she assured them. “Come inside, dear. I’ll put the kettle on.”
The front door led straight into the kitchen, which was quite unmodern and painted in a garish orange, but Ron grinned from ear to ear as he sat down in one of the squeaky chairs, his eyes sweeping from the shelf on the wall, yielding under the weight of the many cook- and spellbooks stacked upon it, to the moving photo of a young Philip Perkins with a little girl riding on his shoulders that sat on the windowsill, and on towards the little kitten rolling around on his back on the wooden floor, as if begging for someone to scratch his fluffy belly.
“I love it here,” Ron announced, and Mrs Perkins smiled sadly.
“Me too,” she said, placing three cups on the table before fetching the kettle from the stovetop. “Have a seat, love,” she told Hermione, who was still standing in the middle of the room, taking in her surroundings.
“So you’ve seen the ad, then?” Mrs Perkins asked once they were all seated, and Ron and Hermione exchanged a confused look.
“In the paper? I thought – I just assumed you were here because you want to buy my house?”
“Oh, no, we didn’t see your ad, Mrs Perkins,” Hermione explained quickly. “We’re here because Ron’s parents told us about your husband. We are so sorry about that, by the way. And we wanted to know if there is anything at all we could do for you. Maybe clean the house or mow your lawn, or anything you want, really…”
Mrs Perkins eyes, which looked like tiny little dots in her otherwise round face because of the thick glass in her spectacles, turned towards the window, and she lifted a hand to her mouth, as if to keep a sob or two from slipping out of it.
“There is the garden,” she said. “It was always my husband who looked after it. I’m useless out there, especially with my back hurting so I can’t bend over anymore…”
“Well, I know a gardening spell or two,” Ron said, “I’m sure there’s something we can do about it.”
“Why don’t you have a look around inside first?” the old woman suggested. “It’s not the poshest house you’ll find, or anything, but I’ve always loved living here…”
And so it became that when Percy got married in Audrey’s hometown that Sunday, his youngest brother and his wife were houseowners. Mrs Perkins had not felt half as bad about selling the house to someone she knew, and especially not when Ron promised that she was welcome to visit whenever she wanted, and Hermione promised that they would take over all of Philip’s old books of gardening spells and look after the premises in his place. Hermione was so happy on the day of the wedding that she completely forgot to worry about Mr Weasley letting something slip about magic to Audrey’s dad, or George making reality of his joking that he might test out a few of his new products on one of her old aunts. No, it was with a feeling that nothing was wrong with the world that she walked hand in hand with Ron into the Holy Trinity and All Saints Church in Coatbridge, because when they had stopped by to see the house again that morning, Ron had pulled her into one of the smaller bedrooms, where the only surviving plant in the garden was leaning against the window, its flowers vibrantly red and alive even though no one had tended to them in months, and he had said, “Our first child could have this room. I mean it’s not that big, but neither are children, right?”
Hermione had just stared at him. “What?”
“Children,” he repeated, “they’re small. Mrs Perkins said there used to be a swing in that tree over there,” he said, pointing to the back of the garden. “Maybe when they’re old enough, I could put one up again. I think they would like that.”
Hermione, who was still recovering from the shock of what he just said, reached out and grabbed his hands. “You want…?”
“To have kids?” Ron smiled. “Yeah, of course. I mean, I always just assumed that you did too…”
“Of course I do,” Hermione replied. “I just didn’t know that you did.”
“In fact,” Ron said, tightening his grip around her hand and pulling her into his arms, “I think we should start right now…”
Hermione giggled as he tucked her hair away behind her ear and kissed her neck. “Tempting,” she said, “but we should probably wait until Mrs Perkins isn’t in the other room…”
So they had waited until that night, and then until Sunday morning, and until just before they had to leave for the wedding. And there they were now, finding their seats next to Harry, Ginny and James in the church, and Hermione was sure that just then, everything was just as it should be with the world.
The wedding was as Ron and George had predicted a few nights before at the Burrow – so long and monotone that it was a wonder half the church wasn’t asleep by the time the minister announced the new Mr and Mrs Weasley. The reception turned out to be a bit of a surprise, though – or rather, Audrey’s family was not what everyone had expected. Audrey was always so calm and composed, so proper and elegant and, according to Ginny, quite boring, but it was hard to believe that the people at the wedding were actually her family. One of Audrey’s uncles, Mr Fannon, drank more champagne than all the Weasleys combined, her other aunts and uncles danced so violently Ron expressed concerns that that they could all have broken hips by the end of the evening, and Audrey’s brother turned out to be a long-haired hippie in a turiqouise rental suit who reeked of cigarette smoke, and whose nails were painted, all in different colours.
Mr Fannon instantly decided that his niece's new father-in-law was his favourite person at the reception, and wouldn’t let Mr Weasley leave his table all night. “What football team do ye support, Arthur?” he asked loudly as everyone went quiet to watch Percy and Audrey have their first dance as a married couple.
Mr Weasley cleared his throat. “Football? Right, it’s when the whole team chases after just one ball, isn’t it, Harry?” he said over his shoulder. Harry hastily left his seat next to Ginny to join the two older men.
“Mr Weasley doesn’t really follow sports,” he said. “Personally, though, I’ve always liked Fulham.”
“Well, laddie, there’s no team like the Wee Rovers, is there?” Mr Fannon replied. “Arthur, ye should come for a game sometime. We play on Cliftonhill, best football arena in the country! We all thought me nephew Craig was gonna make the team when he was younger, didnae we, Craig? Pure dead brilliant, he was. Until his ACL snapped just before they could recruite him. Poor lad. Now he’s a P.E. teacher instead.”
Craig, one of Audrey’s more groomed relatives, smiled half-heartedly from the table next to them. Mr Weasley, however, looked deeply impressed. “He’s a professor?” he exclaimed. “That’s fantastic! You must be so proud!”
“Well it’s not the life of a footballer, is it?” Mr Fannon said. “And the pay’s lousy at that public school, aye, Craig?”
“Aye,” his nephew replied. “Not worth the hard work, I tell you…”
Just as Harry was going to suggest that Mr Weasley moved tables before he made all of Audrey’s relatives suspicious of his lack of knowledges about things like football, someone grabbed his arm and pulled him to the dancefloor. He looked up just as Ginny wrapped her arms around his waist, and smiled before his mind had recognized the serious look on his face.
“Where is James?” he said, and she nodded towards the table she had just left, where Ron was holding James, and Hermione was leaning against his shower, both of them smiling down at their godson as if he was the sweetest thing they had ever seen – which Harry didn’t doubt for a second that he was.
“Teddy’s asked me four times today if I think the Death Eaters want to kill him too, like they did his parents,” said Ginny, drawing back Harry’s attention and making him frown.
“Yes! I wouldn’t be surprised if Andie said we couldn’t watch him anymore because of you and your big mouth…”
“Just listen,” Harry tried, but Ginny interrupted him.
“No, you listen! He’s a child, Harry, and we are supposed to be protecting him–“
Now, it was Harry’s turn to interrupt. “Ginny! I grew up thinking that my parents died in a car accident, because the Dursleys had lied to me all my life. It wasn’t until Hagrid showed up that day and told me how they… what really happened – that I felt like I could get to know them at all. It was as if they had been even further away from me until the day I found out the truth. And I couldn’t do that to Teddy. I want him to feel like Remus and Tonks are really there…”
The look on Ginny’s face softened, and she leaned her cheek against his. “You know your parents were always there, though, right? No matter what you thought happened to them?”
Harry held her even closer and she felt his hair tickle the side of her face as he nodded. “Yes. But now I can feel it too. And that’s what I want for him. I want him to feel them there.”
Both he and Ginny suddenly stopped dancing and looked at Teddy, who had left his seat next to Mrs Weasley, marched around the table and stopped in front of Victoire. He bowed before reaching a hand out towards her, and moments later, they were stumbling out on the dancefloor, doing the silliest impressions of Ginny’s dance moves that they could. If Harry knew one thing then, besides the fact that Teddy must have gotten over his feat of dancing with girls, it was that Remus and Tonks would be watching the scene, and that they would be smiling just as widely as him and Ginny.
A/N: Thank you for reading and reviewing even after all this time. I saw on the forums that someone nominated this story for a Dobby Award, which is just unreal. You are amazing and I don't know how to explain how happy you all make me.
I'm also very happy I got to finish this chapter now, because I'm leaving for a huge trip the same week that I'm writing this, and I'll bring my iPad and it certainly won't stop me from writing and updating as frequently as I can... but if it does take a while I hope you can be as lovely and patient as you've always been with my sometimes slow updates. Xxx
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