Table of Contents and Summary So Far
Teddy was afraid that they might refuse him, but they were all actually rather enthusiastic about the notion. When they'd finished, he sat with them again and listened to them talk, with each other as much as with him. Mum, who had appeared naturally, with her light brown, wavy hair, began to morph its color. "I doubt I could do anything fancy," she said. "I do miss this. Why did you stop doing this?"
"He's a boy," Sirius said. "We're not really prone to primping in front of mirrors." James and Dad looked at him incredulously, and he grinned.
Teddy turned his hair for her, letting it cycle as he'd often done while trying to commune with them. It seemed to make her happy, but the sun was beginning to go down, and the Forest was growing cold.
Dad put a hand on his arm. "Teddy... you have a promise to keep."
Teddy looked at them helplessly. "I know." He swallowed. "Could one of you say that being here hurts you desperately or something?"
"What?" James asked.
"You know... being torn out paradise or whatever."
Mum gave him an odd look. "Why?"
"So he doesn't feel like he's killing us," Dad said.
Mum's face grew softer. "Oh." She sighed. "Teddy, I'm not going to lie to you. It doesn't hurt us at all. But if we stay much longer, it'll hurt you."
"I don't care."
"Well, I do," Dad said. "Teddy, you need to go back now."
"I thought I was sending you back."
"This is more like meeting halfway," James said. "Being halfway anywhere is no good." He stood up and held out his hand for Teddy to shake. Teddy did so. James smiled and said, "I'm glad to know you, Wings."
"You too, Prongs."
Sirius came to him. "Prongs and I are going to step aside and let you be as maudlin as you want for a minute. As the one of us without any of his own children, I'm just glad someone remembers me."
"Do you mind the stories James and I write?" Teddy asked.
Sirius laughed heartily and shook his head. He and James slipped into the shadows until they were indistinguishable from them, but Teddy knew they were there nonetheless.
He turned to his parents. "I'm not sure I can do this."
"You can," Dad said.
Mum nodded. "We're never more than a thought away. Maybe less, now."
"It's not the same."
"No, it's not. But it's more than any of us had a right to expect." She hugged him, and kissed his forehead gently. "Oh, Teddy. How I wish..." She blinked her wish away. "Morph a bit now and then, will you? For your mum?"
Teddy nodded, and made his hair turn purple and stand on end. He looked at Dad. "What would you like me to do for you?"
"Live your life," Dad said, his voice thick. "And do this thing you're so good at, and that you have a passion to do. Do what you were born for, and do it well, and don't let anyone talk you out of it."
"Or pass legislation against it," Mum added. "In case you're not getting the subtext."
"You're not disappointed that I'm not going to be Professor Lupin?" Teddy asked.
Dad shook his head. "Actually, that was my job. However short-term. And I think I did it reasonably well. You don't need to finish it up for me." He touched Teddy's face, then said, "You have to do this, Teddy."
"I know." Teddy wrapped his arms around both of them, kissed them each on the cheek then stepped back, said, "I love you both," and let go of the Resurrection Stone.
The clearing was empty again.
It was dusk, and the mist had grown into a dismal light rain. Teddy lit his wand and searched the ground until he found where the Stone had landed. He looked at it for a long time, then put it in his pocket. Carefully, he loaded the sealed jars into his book bag and made his way down the path, into the darkness of the summer night, toward the light in Hagrid's cabin.
Hagrid had put out dinner, so there was no question of talking about what had just happened. Teddy and Uncle Harry did little of the talking, but the familiar rituals of trying to avoid eating Hagrid's cooking and listening to the peccadilloes of Hogsmeade society began to reconnect Teddy with life away from the Stone, and by the time he walked with Uncle Harry to the gate, all of it seemed to have happened to someone else--yet it still gave him a kind of calm peace that he didn't recognize at first, because he'd never felt it.
They stopped at the edge of school grounds, and Uncle Harry held out his hand.
Teddy reached into his pocket and took out the Resurrection Stone. He gave it to Uncle Harry.
"You don't have to tell me about it," Uncle Harry said.
"I will, though," Teddy said. "Back in London, I will."
Uncle Harry looked longingly at the Stone, then put it in his own pocket. "In London, then. Did you find what you needed?"
"As much of it as I could," Teddy said.
Uncle Harry nodded, and disappeared into the night.
Teddy went back to the castle, put his book bag and its precious contents away, and went down to Slytherin, where he found that the Ravenclaws had even managed to drag Geoffrey down. He was sitting sullenly in the corner, but he was there, and this seemed right to Teddy--no missing pieces. The party went on well past curfew, Corky and Honoria cheerfully docking points from all of the other Houses for it, and Teddy allowed himself to celebrate with them. It seemed that no one was planning to drop out with only O.W.L.s, but it was still good to be together. Teddy couldn't think of a time that all fifteen of them had been together since Sorting. Lizzie and Laura approached him and magnanimously forgave him whatever sins they'd imagined he committed last year. ("Laura forgave me," Lizzie said, "so we decided we ought to forgive you.") He thanked them for this. He let Maurice think it was sarcastic, but it was quite sincere--whatever they imagined he'd done to them, he was glad to be back in their good graces. He danced with Janey for a long time, and when the Heads of House decided to stop pretending not to know about the party, walked back upstairs with the Ravenclaws, splitting only when they reached the seventh floor. The boggart in Dean's mural focused on Franklin, and became a sinister-looking Muggle car. Teddy bade them good night.
He and Donzo snuck out two days later, as hawk and raccoon, and had a look around the empty Hogwarts Express before the next morning's departure. Donzo had brought along several Wheezes, and they spread them gleefully among the compartments. Teddy flew up and put a firework in the smokestack, which started the journey back with quite a bang. The sparkling female figure danced over the train most of the way back to London. Victoire opined that they ought to have boy fireworks dancers next year. Ruthless concurred.
Bill and Fleur held a coming home party, where Marie regaled everyone with stories of the year. Victoire and Story declared a summer truce. Teddy presented James (and Uncle Harry) with the improbable story of the boy who could become a bird even outside the crystal ball, though he was careful to stress that if the secret got out, he wouldn't be able to do it anymore.
Hermione asked Teddy which week he'd like to have the Trace lifted for. He thought there was no time like the present, so, with great aplomb, she lifted it. He began his travels the next day, moving up and down the Floo network as fast as he could. His first stop was Badger Hill; he needed Maddie to come up with plausible excuses for everything else. She was happy to give him one, and he visited a dozen or more people over the next few days, including Uncle Harry. He felt a bit bad using one of the excuses after they had a long talk about what had happened in the Forbidden Forest, but it was only temporary. At the end of the week, he put everything he had collected into a strong wooden box, and Flooed to Diagon Alley.
He stopped at Gringotts first and took out the full amount of gold Bill had given him access to from the Brimmann wreck, then went down a side street he didn't know well, where small, neat flats looked out on the business district. He checked the numbers against one he had written down, and finally stopped at a smartly painted door and rang the bell. There was a low thunder of footsteps on the stairs, then the door opened. Dean Thomas looked at Teddy in surprise.
"Hi," Teddy said. "Could we talk?"
The last day of July in London was a dream that year--comfortable heat, low humidity. There had been a rainstorm last night, but it had been part of the dream, with families gathering inside to watch the lightning and the last raindrops clinging only long enough to make the morning glitter brilliantly. The day was soft and welcoming, and the play parks and pavements were full. People seemed to have got the edge of a low-level Cheering Charm. Elderly ladies in porkpie hats chatted amiably with one another on park benches, businesspeople in expensive suits strolled along the paths, ignoring the incessant ringing of their telephones. Buskers on the street, dressed in the bright flowing colors that were gaining popularity that summer, played guitars and xylophones and tambourines. There were friendly wagers on the Commonwealth Games currently going on up in Glasgow. The soft, indolent scent of flowers, leaves, and fresh-cut grass clung to people even as they moved from the green world and went into the man-made caverns cut beneath the city.
The neighborhood around Grimmauld Place was caught up in one of its periodic fits of creative energy. A preservation society had taken to painting the iron fence around the square--a project which the usually reclusive Potters and their children had joined in with gusto over the previous weekend; the pretty little girl had been most enthusiastic about the project, though the teenage boy with garish blue hair had held a close second--and several ambitious amateur artists had taken to the pavement with colored chalk, making a clumsily drawn wonderland that snaked among the decrepit houses. In front of Number Twelve, the Potter children, under the direction of the older of the young boys (though he left most of the execution to the younger one), had drawn a fantasy of a jungle, with luridly large flowers and cheerfully smiling vines. A monkey with big, uneven eyes was perched on the last square of pavement before Number Eleven, though the children in Number Thirteen swore it had been near their house earlier that morning. The adults, sitting together on the steps of Number Eleven, smiled and rolled their eyes at the extravagant imaginations of their offspring.
Inside Number Twelve, the Potters didn't seem in the least reclusive. In fact, had their neighbors been paying attention--a possibility that had been carefully guarded against with any number of Charms--they would have seen at least a dozen families arriving, knocking on the door, and being greeted with warm words and gesture by one or another member of the family. The Potter children weren't outside, because they were in Fort Potter, holding court with all of their cousins (along with the Story and Laurel Shacklebolt and a swaddled baby girl named Charity Jordan, who was being passed among the older Weasley sisters), and their guest of honor, Harry Potter himself, who was currently wearing a paper headband with several paper feathers dangling from it. By evening, he would have to be properly turned out for a Ministry to-do on the occasion of his thirty-fourth birthday, but, from the study window, Teddy thought he looked considerably happier in his current circumstance.
"You don't need to pay me," Dean Thomas said behind him.
"Of course I'm paying you." Teddy turned. "We agreed on a price."
"Besides, I already transferred it to your Gringotts account."
Dean rolled his eyes. "Well, if you insist. I want to reiterate what I said last week--if you'd like a summer post..."
Teddy laughed. "I'd never be able to admit it to anyone. Anyway, I'm going on tour with Donzo next week."
"Oh--well, have a good time. I, er... I'm going back to the party. I'll send Harry back when the somber ceremony down there is over."
Dean nodded to him, and disappeared into the corridor.
Teddy looked at the two draped shapes that now stood in front of Uncle Harry's desk. Each was four feet high and three feet across. Dean had worked quickly and well. He said that having a Metamorphmagus model made all of it a good deal easier.
His nerves were twisted around one another in charged knots. All month, he'd been buoyed along by the sheer exuberance of the idea, and the ability to implement it. Sitting in Dean's studio--bringing along Donzo half the month and Ruthless the other half--he hadn't thought twice. He'd even crowed about his O.W.L. scores with no self-consciousness when they'd arrived, and he'd seen nothing below an E.
But now, his imagination was Conjuring images of Uncle Harry's face in the Forest, that haunted look in his eyes, and he wondered if this was a gift or a curse, a misuse of the unimaginable privilege he'd shared.
It was far too late to turn back.
The door opened.
Uncle Harry came in, taking off his headdress and putting it over a lamp. "Dean said you wanted to see me."
"I have a present for you."
"I think we're doing that later," Uncle Harry said.
"Well, this... you'll need the explanation Maddie cooked up for it, which I can't very well tell you in front of everyone."
Uncle Harry's eyes moved to the shrouded shapes. "Teddy... are those portraits?"
"Yeah." Teddy bit his lip. "One's mine, but you need to see both of them."
"Teddy, did you...?"
Teddy nodded. "Remember when I told you I needed some memories of Dad and Sirius for something Maddie wanted me to do in Identity? That was a lie in a good cause." Teddy took a deep breath. "Well... do you want yours? Do you want to see?"
Uncle Harry raised his wand slowly, and Teddy saw that his hand was shaking and thought, I shouldn't have, he won't want it, not after all the talk about accepting...
The drop cloths rose into the air and flew across the room, landing in a pile on the sofa.
"Harry!" Sirius said from the canvas on the left. He moved forward from his motorbike. He was wearing a vintage leather jacket of Donzo's, and worn-out blue jeans. He grinned. "This can't be Number Twelve. Too happy. James, have a look!"
Uncle Harry sat down hard at his desk as James--dressed in casual work robes--came out from behind the motorbike and looked out with a smile. "It is happy. Must be driving your mum mad."
Uncle Harry put his hand over his face.
Teddy looked down. "I'm sorry. I didn't think--"
A hand reached out and grabbed his arm. "Thank you, Teddy," he said thickly. "I... thank you."
"You're not angry?"
Uncle Harry looked at him. "Of course I'm not angry! Teddy, this... It'll take getting used to, but I've missed them."
"I should hope so," Dad said from the other canvas--Teddy's canvas--where he'd been painted in the kitchen of Number Twelve with Mum, dancing while a kettle of Wolfsbane Potion brewed endlessly behind them. Mum was happy, if clumsy, in the dance.
"Wotcher, Harry!" she said.
Uncle Harry covered his mouth, and Teddy thought there were tears in his eyes.
"I know it's not all of them," Teddy said. "But it's all I could get, the best we could do." Uncle Harry didn't say anything, so he went on. "I've been going to Dean's studio. I posed all their faces. Even Mum's. Donzo and Ruthless helped too, with the bodies, for when he had to work on both at once."
"Teddy, they're... amazing. But how can we explain them?"
"That's where I'm glad you told Maddie about the Stone. She made up a story about how she went through the brain tank after our little adventure, trying to make some sense of things, and she found just enough memories from them to give me for the portrait. I think Sirius was meant to have had them taken from Azkaban, and Mum had to do them when she was training, and Dad had to report on werewolves or something, and Prongs... I don't remember why she said he did, but we can just say I forgot. I got a lot of other people to give memories for the background. They'll all think that's why they're so good." He swallowed hard. "Your mum didn't come, so I couldn't get her memories, I'm sorry about that, and--"
Uncle Harry just shook his head again. "I don't even know what to say, Teddy. This is incredible."
Mum cleared her throat. "Teddy, oughtn't you get to the other part?"
"Oh, right," Teddy said. "I actually asked Sirius and Dad if they'd mind, and they don't, so..."
"Don't mind what?" Uncle Harry asked.
Teddy looked at the portraits. "Who wants to go first?"
Sirius sighed extravagantly. "I can't believe you put us in the kitchen," he said, then braced himself comically and walked out of the frame of his portrait. A second later, he entered the portrait of Mum and Dad. Here, he was older and gaunter, but Teddy had chosen a memory from Dad's ring that was one of the happy times during Sirius's last year, after Mum and Dad had got together, when things were beginning to look up for Sirius himself. He bounded in with great energy, and took a bow.
"He's in both portraits," Teddy explained. "So's Dad."
"Speaking of which," Dad said, and crossed into the portrait with the motorbike. He lost several years, and his hair became less gray. He was wearing patched up robes that Teddy had found in a second-hand shop in Diagon Alley. He took his place, leaning against the wall to watch James working on the bike.
"They can cross back and forth," Teddy said. "So you can ask Sirius to come to me, and I can ask Dad to go to you. Even if one of us gets stuck behind another Quarantine."
Uncle Harry smiled, not taking his eyes from the paintings. "Phineas will be relieved."
"Are you joking?" Sirius asked, spinning Mum around the kitchen. "Grayfur will be devastated. I plan to rub it in his face as often as possible."
Uncle Harry's mouth twitched, then he laughed. Teddy pulled a chair over to sit beside him, and they watched the portraits together, talking with them until they began to seem as usual as Grayfur, the Fat Lady, or Mad Auntie. After a long time, they went downstairs, taking the portraits along to show people. Uncle Harry shared the fabricated story of their origin. Everyone seemed to understand that it was fabricated, but no one asked why. They just praised both the portraits and Dean extravagantly, and Dean bemoaned the fact that Teddy refused a career as a painter's model, which caused a good deal of good-natured ribbing about who would be doing his hair and make-up for the rest of the summer.
"Who needs hair and make-up people?" Teddy asked, and morphed himself into the famous statue of David, to much amusement from the others.
Uncle Harry formally introduced each portrait to his children, bringing much merriment to the occupants, who bowed and mimed hugs and kisses. Lily gave each of them a kiss, then complained about the scratchy canvas.
All afternoon, Teddy caught Uncle Harry's eye going to the portrait of his father and Sirius (Dad was in and out of it all night, apparently catching up on portrait gossip). Each time seemed to bring a smile now. It was all right.
Two days later, Uncle Harry took him to Heathrow, to the brand new Terminal Eight and a Third, where Donzo, the Weird Sisters, most of Teddy's friends, an entire concert crew, and all of the equipment were standing near a large circular platform around a device that looked like a coat tree with far too many arms. It was Kirley Duke's design, and had apparently been years in the making, as the giant Portkeys needed to be built at Keyports all around the world. This one would go to Logan Airport--Terminal X--in Boston, in America, where the band would pick up its Charmed bus for the remainder of the tour. Everyone was too busy trying to fit the instruments into their secure spots to take much notice of Teddy and Uncle Harry.
"Next summer, you won't need anyone to get you around," Uncle Harry said.
"I might still want someone to say goodbye to."
"True." Uncle Harry looked up at him and sighed. "I always knew you'd be taller than I am. I didn't realize how much taller. When, exactly, do you plan to finish this growth spurt?"
"I don't know. Sometime before I use the whole Brimmann treasure replacing my clothes, I hope."
Uncle Harry laughed. "When you get back, we're going to take a trip to your vault. I think there are few things you ought to start paying attention to now."
Teddy nodded. Granny had actually given him a Gringotts receipt for his holdings that he was certain was in error by a large margin, or perhaps he'd read it wrong. "I'll be back in three weeks," he said. "That'll leave us a week before school."
"I'll arrange to take a couple of days off. Your grandmother will want to come as well." Uncle Harry held out his hand. "Well, I suppose you're off to a grand adventure."
"God, I hope not," Teddy said, and laughed. Instead of shaking Uncle Harry's hand, he hugged him, and was glad to get a hug in return.
"I was afraid you wouldn't want public hugs anymore," Uncle Harry muttered.
"Right. I just hate them."
Uncle Harry grinned and reached up to muss his hair, as he'd done to say goodbye for as long as Teddy could remember.
"Hey, Lupin!" Donzo called. "We're all about ready! Any time you are. As long as it's before they gear up the Portkey charm."
"Right." Teddy smiled at Uncle Harry, then pulled his trunk onto the platform. He took a place between Donzo and Frankie. The whole structure began to hum.
Teddy looked across his friends' heads toward Uncle Harry, who was still standing back with the other parents. He let go long enough to wave.
Uncle Harry waved back, then the Portkey circled twice, and flung Teddy out into the world.