Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns all of this but I'm having fun playing with it!
Author's Note: I feel like I understood why JK Rowling left us with so many unanswered questions at the end of Deathly Hallows. How could she have just returned Harry to normal life (particularly a normal love life!) after the death of so many beloved characters? I waited a while to allow the dust to settle and picked up with Harry just before his eighteenth birthday.
The resemblance between Harry Potter and the little boy in his arms was uncanny – his untidy black hair, his bright green eyes, even the lightening bolt scar just under the little boy's hairline. Harry knew from the half-photo he retrieved from Sirius' bedroom that this was exactly what he had looked like at Teddy's age.
"You're no good at sleeping or staying clean but you'd take out every prize in a look-alike competition. I'd better be sure not to lose you in a crowd of house-elves, I'd never find you again!" Harry blew a noisy raspberry on the boy's stomach and smiled as Teddy collapsed into giggles, his appearance changing rapidly as he laughed.
Harry put Teddy back down on the rug and prepared to return to their usual game of cat and mouse around the boundaries of its hem. Harry's determination to keep him close always seemed to clash with Teddy's determination to be free.
Looking across the garden Harry saw Molly Weasley and Andromeda Tonks talking together quietly near the pond, each regularly dabbing their eyes with their handkerchiefs as they spoke. Harry was glad that Andromeda had Mrs Weasley as a friend, they had both lost so much. He also knew that he'd been a great help and comfort to this recent widow and sudden single parent, but Harry's real motivation for being there was spending as much time as possible with his little orphaned godson.
Andromeda had needed so much assistance in the first month after Voldemort's defeat that she had given Harry the keys to the flat out the back of the large house she had shared with her husband before his death. She and Ted had built the little house for Tonks and Lupin just after Teddy was born in the hope that their daughter, son-in-law and grandson would be able to come and spend time with them should peace ever return.
At first Harry had thought it would be hard to live in a place intended for his departed friends but after a while he began to love his little home and love having the opportunity to live in his own space. Six years of dormitory life at Hogwarts and a year in the close confines of a tent had really made him long for some time to himself and now he had just what he needed. He was able to be there for his godson in a way that his own parents and godfather had never been able, he could support Andromeda in her grief and ensure that she wasn't alone and he still had plenty of time and freedom to see his friends.
Harry lay back on the rug, hands behind his head, deftly cutting off Teddy's most promising escape route. Unperturbed, Teddy began to clamber over Harry, painfully digging his little fists and knees into Harry's defenceless stomach. Harry rolled over laughing, wrapping himself around the little body that immediately focused all its energy on a wriggly bid for freedom. As he unfolded himself to get a better position he looked up and saw that Teddy had suddenly and drastically changed his appearance. Teddy's newly soft brown eyes and growing long red hair prompted Harry to look around, finding himself staring straight into the eyes of Ginny Weasley.
"Hi, Harry," she said quietly.
"Gin! Hey Teddy, it's our favourite girl!"
Ginny blushed and Harry worried he might have pushed his luck; there was still so much unspoken between them. She sat down on the rug, so Harry concluded he must not have gone too far wrong. He sat up and gathered Teddy into his lap so that he could give his full attention to this new arrival.
"How are you doing, Gin?"
"I'm ok, I guess, no worse than Wednesday," she gave a slight smile.
"Was it only Wednesday that I last saw you? It feels like it was ages ago!" Harry quickly realised that his words hinted at a truth he didn't think Ginny was ready for yet. He covered his mistake. "Time goes by really fast with this little chap around!" An emotion Harry didn't feel game to try and identify flickered across Ginny's face.
"How's George?" Harry asked quietly.
Tears came to Ginny's eyes and before Harry even thought about it, he had reached over and taken Ginny's hand. As soon as he realised how forward he'd been he also realised that he couldn't just pull his hand away. He'd have to surreptitiously get a look at her face to find out her reaction. Ginny was quiet for a moment. Then she gently began to stroke the back of Harry's hand with her thumb. Too afraid to look up at her, Harry tried to force his brain to work out whether or not this might suggest that Ginny was ready to receive more in the way of romantic gestures from him. However, before he could come to any conclusion, Teddy had flung himself onto Harry's outstretched arm forcing him to pull his hand away from Ginny's. She was laughing by the time Harry could finally look up at her so he could make no further progress down that particular avenue of investigation. Nevertheless, this rare laughter was welcome, and Teddy would provide plenty more opportunities for her to keep up that behaviour.
Molly called from across the garden, "Ginny?"
"Mum? Are you heading off already?" Ginny asked. "I was thinking I might stay here with Harry this afternoon until he comes around tonight. Is that ok?"
Molly looked over at Harry who couldn't believe his luck. "Will that be ok with you, Harry?"
Harry practically shouted his response in his enthusiasm "Absolutely! Gin and I can hang around here and then come through the Floo to The Burrow this evening in time for dinner."
Mrs Weasley went back into the house with Andromeda to say her goodbyes leaving Harry and Ginny alone with their little charge.
"Thanks for staying around," Harry wasn't sure what else to say. He had been so hesitant to request time alone with her but perhaps that had been a mistake? Her family, particularly George and her mum, always seemed to need her so desperately. They were more-or-less his family too, he didn't want to steal her away from where she was needed.
Teddy began to wriggle in his lap and he was reminded of his quest to make her laugh.
"Ok, Teddy, let's show Ginny what you can do," and Harry propped his godson up on his knee like some sort of ventriloquist's dummy. "Gin, just to warn you, this is kind of like normal baby-attempts-animal-noises but with a bit of a twist. You ready?" Ginny nodded, smiling. "Name an animal, any animal!"
"Umm… a lion!"
"How does a lion go, Teddy?" Harry asked, eyes on his godson.
Immediately, Teddy's face began to transform into something orange and hairy, with an almost cartoon-like quality, and the transformation was accompanied by the sweetest but most misguided attempt at a roaring sound Ginny had ever heard.
Ginny collapsed into giggles. "Where on earth did he learn that lions looked like that?"
Harry looked sheepish. "Well, the picture book he has only shows farm animals, so I had to show him the crest on my Quidditch robes. It was the best likeness I could find! Besides, no godson of mine could get about without a decent lion sound!"
"Oh no," Ginny laughed, "We couldn't have that, not the godson of a Gryffindor!"
Harry chuckled, "Got any other animals to test him out on? Remember, being a Metamorphmagus isn't the same thing as being an animagus. He can't actually transfigure himself into an animal – but I want to keep him in the dark about that for as long as possible! Watching him try is just too beautiful!"
After Ginny had experienced Teddy's hilarious attempts at looking and sounding like a sheep, a cow, a dog, a cat, a mouse, a giraffe and a hippogriff it became clear that her stomach muscles could stand no more of this long unaccustomed laughter and that little Teddy was beginning to struggle to keep his Harry-green eyes open.
"Might be time for a sleep, my little matey," Harry said, gently laying the dozing toddler down on the rug and stroking the raven black hair back from his little forehead.
Ginny was still wiping the tears from her eyes after laughing so hard but she was struck by the little lightening bolt scar that Harry's movement had revealed and reached over to gently touch the little boy's forehead with her finger tips. She looked up into Harry's face and, with her other hand, pushed the hair back from his forehead, also touching his scar.
"He loves you so much," she said quietly, almost too softly for Harry to hear.
"And I love him," Harry replied.
"It's funny isn't it," she whispered. "That scar marked you with a sign of your mother's love for you even more than it marked you with Voldemort's hate. Teddy doesn't know it yet but the fact that he even has you here to mimic is such a mark of Tonks and Remus' love for him. They couldn't have chosen a better godfather for their son."
Harry knew that his emotions wouldn't let him get out all of the things that he wanted to say, so he stayed silent, his swimming eyes on Teddy. Eventually, he took a deep breath and managed to find Ginny's eyes with his own.
"Thanks, Gin, that means a lot." Teddy began to emit tiny little snuffly snores and Ginny laughed quietly, her hand falling away from Harry's face.
"Well, we'd probably better get this little man to bed now that he's snoring and embarrassing himself," Harry whispered, using his wand to gently levitate the sleeping little boy ahead of him as he stood to walk inside the house. "Now that I've realised how easy it is to levitate Teddy into his bed I have a new respect for Muggles! For ages I was trying to pick him up and then lay him down in his cot again and it was always a disaster. This way he falls asleep wherever it suits him and he always wakes up peacefully in his own bed."
Ginny trod quietly behind him, through the house and up into the beautiful room set aside for Teddy which was bathed in early afternoon light. Harry gently lowered Teddy magically onto his mattress and Ginny moved silently around the room drawing the curtains. She turned back to the cot just in time to see Harry place a gentle kiss onto the forehead of the sleeping little boy. He looked up and smiled as he caught her watching him.
"Want to go flying, Ginny?" he whispered. "I haven't been able to go for a while and I miss it like crazy!"
Ginny remembered the freedom that could only be found on a broomstick and quickly nodded, how was it that he seemed to know exactly what she needed?
"Let's go down and see if Andromeda will be right without us for a few hours this afternoon." Harry and Ginny tiptoed out of the room ever so carefully, pulling Teddy's door shut behind them.
Andromeda was sitting at her writing desk surrounded by papers when they arrived at the study.
"He's asleep, Andromeda," Harry called softly from the doorway. "Do you need me to do anything for you?"
"Oh, Harry, what would I do without you?" she said, rising from her seat and crossing the room to grasp Harry into a quick hug. "No, I'm fine," she said as she pulled away. "Please, spend some time catching up with Ginny. You do too much for Teddy and me as it is! He probably won't sleep for long this afternoon, and I've actually been looking forward to having some play time with him, I'm nearly at the bottom of this paper work."
"Great," Harry replied. "We were thinking we might go out flying for a few hours. But I'll be back on time to feed him and put him to bed this evening before we head over to The Burrow, ok? Please don't even think about starting his dinner!"
Andromeda smiled and shook her head in bemused wonder. "You are too good to Teddy and me, Harry! We don't deserve you!"
Harry and Ginny crossed the large garden, walking towards Harry's flat out the back. "You haven't seen inside yet, have you?" he asked, a slight look of pride on his smiling face.
"I have this uncanny feeling that I'm just about to," Ginny laughed.
Harry pushed open the door and allowed her to enter ahead of him. The first thing that struck her was the photos stuck all over the lounge room walls, the room that the front door opened on to. There were photos of Harry, Ron and Hermione together from all of their various years at Hogwarts, photos of Harry's parents, of Hagrid and Grawp, of the original members of the Order of the Phoenix, of the Marauders, of Dumbledore, of the Weasley clan, of Bill and Fleur's wedding, and interestingly, a number of Quidditch team photos and action shots, many of them portraying herself, giving chase in most and even scoring goals in a few. Ginny felt the heat rise to her face. Harry still had photos of her all around him! Harry, however, was task focused and his muffled voice sounded from behind a cupboard door.
"Want to ride my Firebolt, Gin? I have an old broom of Ted's that I'm happy to ride."
"Sure, whatever you prefer," Ginny replied, pleased not to have been caught blushing over Harry's collection of photographs. "Can I quickly see the other rooms before we go?"
"Oh, sorry! Absolutely, though there isn't much more to see!" Harry spread his arms wide. "As you can probably tell, this is the lounge room, that's my little kitchen through there, that room there is my bedroom, and this room here is my favourite room, the sun room!"
As Harry gestured towards each doorway, Ginny poked her head in and admired the simplicity of his living arrangements. The little house was small, but cosy rather than poky and it looked absolutely comfortable. "Another time you'll have to sit and have a drink with me in the sun room while the sun sets, it really is the best room I think I've ever been in!" Harry turned and smiled contentedly at her, then handed her his broom. "Shall we go?"
As Ginny and Harry kicked off and rose high into the air, Ginny was reminded of just how much she loved flying. Aiming her broomstick towards the sky, she felt that she was leaving all of her sadness on the ground and allowing the wind to take her where it would. Harry, slightly ahead of her, turned back to see where she was and waited for her to pull her broom in alongside his.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"Well, we need to be careful of Muggles, but there's a pretty big forest than we can safely fly over. If we're careful about not being seen as we land and if we hide our brooms, we can go and visit this beautiful beach on the other side of it!"
"Sounds perfect," Ginny sighed as Harry pulled slightly ahead of her to lead the way.
The two of them spent the afternoon chasing and tackling each other all over the sky as they rocketed towards the coast. They weren't engaged in deep conversation at all, nor were they thinking about the things that made them sad, they were just two teenagers enjoying the freedom that the open sky afforded them.
Harry indicated that they would need to land soon and Ginny followed him down into a clearing between the trees that allowed them to touch-down unseen and quickly charm their brooms to fit inside the pocket of Harry's jeans. As the trees began to thin and they reached the edge of the forest, Ginny was astounded by the beautiful scene laid out before her. The grey-blue sea was crashing onto the rocky beach and clouds of silver spray flew up into the sky casting fleeting rainbows on the horizon. Ginny had always believed that spending any amount of time by the sea was as healing and refreshing as a holiday so strolling towards the water and along the pebbly beach felt like just what her soul needed. Every so often she glanced at the dark-haired wizard walking along next to her. They weren't speaking much but she felt totally at ease in his presence, something she had been beginning to wonder if she would ever be able to do again.
"Can we look out for shells for Teddy?" Harry's request interrupted her thoughts but she welcomed the project and soon they had gathered some amazing specimens.
"What will you do with them?" Ginny asked.
"I'm making a new toy box for him," Harry replied sheepishly, "I've bought him too many things! Anyway, I want to stick shells all over the lid. I think he'd really love that."
Harry noticed the way that Ginny was smiling at him and found himself really enjoying this time alone with her. She wasn't saying it but he could see that she was proud of him and that made him feel fantastic.
"I think we'd better get going if I'm going to get back in time to make Teddy's dinner," Harry said. Then there it was, that proud look again, dancing around Ginny's eyes and smile. She nudged up against him with her shoulder as they turned to wander back to the forest clearing.
"You've turned out ok, you know."
"Have I?" said Harry, smiling broadly.
Before long, the shadows were lengthening and Harry and Ginny touched down in Andromeda's garden. Harry took Ginny's broom and leaned them both up against the frame of Andromeda's back door before standing back to let Ginny walk inside the house. Ginny laughed as she watched Teddy's hair change from his grandmother's curly grey-flecked brown to her own long red hair. When he saw Harry, however, Teddy gave out a joyous shriek and wriggled in his grandmother's arms, immediately reverting to his most constant raven-haired appearance and holding his arms out to his godfather. After Harry whooped and tossed his mini doppelganger into the air a few times he deposited Teddy into Ginny's surprised arms and quickly conjured a flame under the kettle to make a cup of tea for a grateful Andromeda.
"How long did he sleep?" Harry asked as he bustled around the kitchen.
"It seemed like almost no time at all!" Andromeda laughed. "He has so much energy I can barely keep up with him!"
"Well, just sit and enjoy your tea. Ginny might want to play blocks with Teddy and I'm going to sort out dinner for you two before Gin and I have to get going to The Burrow." At that, a seemingly never-ending stream of coloured wooden blocks followed the summons of Harry's wand and fell in front of Ginny and Teddy, who crowed with delight at this beloved game.
"I'm impressed, Harry," Ginny said as Harry magically returned cleaned plates and left-over ingredients to their rightful places in the pantry and banished Teddy's blocks into his overflowing toy box. Having seen Harry whip up a nutritious dinner for Teddy and a tasty meal for Andromeda, change Teddy's nappy, read him a story and put him to sleep without fuss, Ginny was beginning to regard The Boy Who Lived with even more admiration, if that were possible. "When did you become Mr Domestic?" Harry looked back at Ginny with a sad smile.
"Since there was nobody else."
Ginny's face fell and she was reminded for the first time in hours of just how broken their lives had been by Tom Riddle. She was quiet for a moment and Harry felt sorry that he'd invited the spectre of their sadness back into the room.
After a pause Ginny spoke, quietly but fiercely, "You know what's better this time though, Harry?"
"This time, the little boy is not left alone." Harry felt the lump rising in his throat as Ginny continued. "He's not going to be placed in the home of people who don't care whether he lives or dies. He's not going to have to wait until he's eleven before he meets anybody who can love him the way that he deserves."
Harry rested his hands on the bench in front of him and studied the granite for a moment before speaking.
"Thanks Gin. You always seem to know exactly what I need to hear."
"I'm glad, Harry, but I really want to thank you. I want to thank you for this whole day! Going out flying and visiting the beach was the absolute best thing I could have done today. I really loved just being with you, not really talking heaps, just being together and enjoying the day; it was exactly what I needed."
Ginny moved around the bench and gave Harry a quick hug before standing on tiptoe to kiss him gently on the cheek. She smiled but it seemed to fade quite quickly. "Shall we go? Mum is making a treacle tart for you."
She and Harry walked over to the fireplace.
"After you, Gin." She threw in a handful of powder, called out "The Burrow!" and was gone.
Harry stood still for a second and touched his fingers to the spot on his cheek where he could still feel the familiar but long absent sensation of her lips. He smiled slightly, then throwing in his own fistful of powder, disappeared into the bright green flames.