Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Teddy woke up on Christmas morning feeling out of place and guilty.
For the last two years, he'd been at Uncle Harry's all day--the whole school holiday his first year, and most of it last year--and before that, he and Granny had always opened presents, had a quick breakfast (though she made a special breakfast cake each year, which they never had on any other day, to mark the occasion), then Flooed to Grimmauld Place. It had been that way since Uncle Harry had finished his apprenticeship and got married. That had been when Teddy was four, and the last Christmas he'd spent here at Granny's was Teddy's third. He didn't really remember it.
Christmas was at Uncle Harry's because it was the day that everyone wanted to see him, to pass the time, to reminisce about their harrowing lives. It was on Christmas that Teddy tended to come face to face with previously disembodied names like "Parvati" or "Ernie" or "Susan" or "Seamus." He'd once met a pretty woman named Cho, who was the only one of Uncle Harry's school friends who always seemed uncomfortable with him. She'd gone quickly. His favorite intermittent visitor by far had been Oliver Wood, who'd come the year he was ten and gone on for a long time about Uncle Harry's Quidditch exploits... and managed to not mention the war even once. Oliver was fun. It had been Christmas the year that he was nine that he'd met Dean Thomas, the boy his father had died to save, who apparently saw Hermione regularly and Uncle Harry reasonably often, but who had seemed utterly terrified to so much as speak to Teddy. Teddy had no idea what he did, though he, like Dad, was a hobby artist, at least. He made drawings for all the Potter children's doors each year, and had done an especially nice one of Dad in his classroom for Granny to hang on the parlor wall here. Teddy had no idea how he was meant to feel about Dean, and wasn't sorry not to see him again.
These temporarily embodied wraiths would drop in, spend ten minutes with Uncle Harry and a cup of tea, and then drop back out until the next time they had the urge to regroup. It always seemed to brighten Uncle Harry's day up.
Thanks to Greyback, none of them would come this year. Uncle Harry had decided to move Christmas away from Grimmauld Place so no one would have to be turned away; they'd just find him not home. The Burrow and the Romp were also on people's visiting lists. And he'd wanted to make it somewhere comfortable for Teddy, even though there were more children at Shell Cottage and not many people would think to drop by there. So here they were, at Gran's, for the first time in ten years, and Teddy felt sure he'd managed to spoil the day for everyone before he even got up.
There was a soft pop, and his presents appeared at the foot of his bed. He'd barely reached for them when the door cracked open. A puff of brown hair and a pair of hazel eyes peeked in. "He's up," James whispered in a tone of voice so full of importance that Teddy knew he was speaking to Al and Lily, for whom he made all laws. "Teddy, Al and Lily want to know if we can open presents with you. Daddy said we were to wait until you were up."
"I'm up. Come in. Happy Christmas."
James grinned and pushed the door open. He led in his siblings, Al looking around anxiously, Lily toddling along with a determined look on her face. Parcels of packages bigger than they were floated after them, and landed on Teddy's bed, followed by three bouncing Potters. James had to help Lily up, but she made up for it by jumping avidly up and down until she tumbled cheerfully over Teddy's right leg. She looked up at the Muggles and Minions poster of the chemist girl in her short, low-cut robe and said, "Pehty."
Teddy wasn't entirely sure how to explain the poster, so he diverted their attention by handing out presents.
James was delighted with the book Teddy had got him, and immediately started to read it--after a fashion--to Lily. Teddy dug into his own pile. James had written him another story. This one featured Teddy himself working with Checkmate to track down Greyback, who they defeated by flying a dragon down at him, picking him up, and dropping him back at Azkaban, where none of the other prisoners would play with him at all. Al and Lily had helped Aunt Ginny make biscuits, and decorated several in Gryffindor colors for Teddy. There were new clothes from most of the adults, including a roomy new red jumper from Molly; he deduced that Uncle Harry had told them that Teddy seemed to be outgrowing quite a pile of clothing.
"Where are--" Uncle Harry leaned in the door, looking exasperated. "James, I told you to wait until Teddy was up!"
"I was up," Teddy said.
Uncle Harry rolled his eyes. "Did he give you a chance to actually get up and wash up?"
"Well... I invited them in."
"Of course." He looked at James. "Take your brother and sister downstairs; Granny Andromeda has a special breakfast ready."
James pouted, but rarely disobeyed when he was put in charge of an operation. He helped Lily slither down, then marched the other two out.
"I have another present for you," Uncle Harry said, looking serious. "It's just between us."
"Oh." Teddy got out of bed and sat down at his desk. He pulled over another chair for Uncle Harry, who waved his wand and pulled a scroll out of the air.
"This is the deed to the Shrieking Shack. I have it in trust, since you can't own it until you come of age, but it legally belongs to you." He showed Teddy his name on the deed, which seemed quite unreal. "It was bought with money that's yours, anyway--at least as far as I'm concerned--so by itself, it's not a gift. The gift is little. The deed, a few things you'll find to help fix it up--"
"Will you help?"
"I'll help." He grinned. "We'll consider that a present as well. And this." He produced an iron key ring, with three keys dangling from it. "The big one is for the front door, the middle one is for the gate. They both have all of the charms you need to get in, even from the Hogsmeade side. The last one is just a key in appearance. Press it into the mantel--you'll see the spot--to connect to the Floo network. It doesn't make sense for it to be hooked up full time with no one living there, but in case of an emergency, you'll be able to get in and get away. And, though you're absolutely not to tell anyone this, you may Floo directly to Auror Headquarters from there, security be damned. Don't try to take anyone else through. Now, let's make sure the keys don't get away from you. Hold up your hand."
Teddy did as he was told, and Uncle Harry did a complex sort of tethering spell--"Not worth it when there's no good reason"--which attached the keys to Teddy himself, so that he could always reach out and find them. "Professor Longbottom helped come up with this spell," Uncle Harry said. "It's related to the spells that used be on the Room of Requirement. He still hasn't figured all of them out, but we thought this might at least be useful. If you feel you need the keys, think very hard about needing them, then close your fist three times and they should show up somewhere nearby, even if you've left them under your bed here."
"Wow," Teddy said. "Thanks. Where should I keep them?"
"I'd put them in your trunk. Seems safely away from questioning eyes."
There was a great crashing noise downstairs, then someone said, "Rosie, you have to wait until you're out of the fire before you take your dolly out of the box!"
"Sounds like Ron and Hermione are here," Uncle Harry said. "I'll let you get dressed."
He left, and Teddy cleaned up and dressed in some of his new clothes, including Molly's jumper. By the time he got downstairs, Percy Weasley and his family had arrived, and Bill and Fleur were in the process of coming through. Fleur was carrying baby Muriel and proudly wearing her own jumper, which was a pretty light blue with some fluffy, silvery yarn worked in. She always seemed the most pleased by the yearly gift.
Victoire came spinning gracefully out of the fireplace, wearing a light purple jumper with a fussy sort of neckline that must have taken Molly forever. She shook her hair out and dusted herself off, then came over to Teddy to wish him a happy Christmas.
Bill finally came through with Artie, and the flames went from green to red as everyone greeted everyone else. Teddy looked out the back window and saw Professor Longbottom and Vivian Waters coming up from the Apparition point by the pond, each of them carrying a basket with a cat in it. Victoire ran out to get Bushy, and Teddy followed, glad to see Checkmate again. While they were still outside, Molly and Arthur Weasley Apparated in, and they all walked back to the house together. They got in just in time to see the flames in the fireplace go green again.
George Weasley appeared, baby Freddie clutched in his arms. "One more run," he said, handing the baby to his mother, who immediately began fussing over him. George went back into the fire and a moment later spun out again, clutching his Muggle wife, Sophie, like luggage. She shivered when she got out and muttered something about never getting used to this, then began kissing her nieces and nephews. George came over to Uncle Harry, who was standing not far from Teddy, and said, "There's one more back there. Says he really wants to come and see Teddy."
Teddy wasn't at all sure who George meant. Uncle Harry looked surprised, but shrugged and took a handful of Floo Powder and said, "Number Fifteen, Wisteria Walk." He disappeared for a good deal longer than George did, and when the flames went green again, he came back dragging the most terrified looking Muggle that Teddy had ever seen.
Dudley Dursley took several harsh breaths, shook his finger at Uncle Harry, and said, "I'm not going back that way!"