“They won’t really hurt you, you know,” Mr Weasley smiled, as they walked companionably towards the Entrance Hall. “Besides, if they try it Molly will have their heads. They’ll figure that out as soon as they realise.” Harry startled, stopped, and stared at Mr Weasley who gave a wry chuckle.
“Our daughter may not tell her brothers everything, but she usually tells her mother,” he said. “Molly, of course, tells me everything.” He smiled and motioned Harry to continue walking.
“Ron was filthy at me,” said Harry, “oh, not for going out with her, he was okay with that part. Mind you, Hermione and I had to duck a few heated conversations between him and Ginny about displays of affection. You heard about Lavender, I suspect?” Mr Weasley nodded, a smile still on his face and motioned for Harry to continue.
“Ron was filthy at me when I, er … when I, well …”
“When you ditched her?” said Mr Weasley bluntly. Harry cringed. Mr Weasley reached over and patted him on the shoulder. “No one could fault you there, Harry. Not even Ginny if she’s honest with herself.”
They continued the rest of the way in silence. Harry started to enter the Great Hall. Ron and his brothers were sitting with Hermione at the end of the Gryffindor table listening to Neville intently. Some of the teachers sat at the head table and groups of students were scattered randomly about the house tables chatting and eating what appeared to be lunch. He couldn’t see Mrs Weasley or Ginny but before he could wonder where they were Mr Weasley tapped him on the shoulder and motioned him to a small room a short distance away. As they got closer Harry could hear muffled sobs coming from the room. He sighed; just his luck that his visitor appeared to be a crying female.
“Mr Weasley, I’m not at all good with crying women!” he protested. “I don’t know what to do with them at all. That’s why Ginny – well, er, who is it and why does she want to see me?”
“Oh no, Harry, that’s not your visitor,” exclaimed Mr Weasley. “I am sure she’ll want to see you when she composes herself though. I’ll just nip in and get your visitor, shall I?” Harry could only nod as he stood nervously in the Entrance Hall.
It wasn’t long before Mr Weasley emerged from the room, this time carrying a bundle in his arms. It wriggled and Harry briefly saw a tuft of turquoise hair. Harry took a few steps back and Mr Weasley laughed softly at the look of terror on his face.
“It’s okay, Harry, he’s not crying.” Harry heard footsteps behind him and turned to see Neville exit the Great Hall just as Mr Weasley reached him and motioned for him to take the bundle. He stopped only long enough to make sure Harry wasn’t going to drop the wriggling infant he handed him before whispering that Molly needed him to help her with their other guest. And Harry was left standing in the Entrance Hall with a baby and he had no idea what to do with him. He was too scared to look at him and instead chose to stare fixedly at the crooked hat on a portrait of a witch who had clearly been drinking with Violet and The Fat Lady.
“Crikey, Harry! I didn’t think that was the reason Ginny didn’t come back to school! Her brothers are going to kill you.” Neville’s voice seemed abnormally loud as it broke the stillness. Harry started and swung around to face Neville.
“What?” he croaked. “This isn’t my baby, or Ginny’s baby or – What on earth makes you think that?”
“Well, Mr Weasley came and handed you that baby,” Neville shrugged. “Ginny never came back to school after Easter, so…”
“Well he’s not ours!” said Harry exasperatedly. “He doesn’t look like us! We haven’t... we didn’t!” He spluttered to a stop, staring at Neville in horror.
“You think I’d take advantage of her like that?”
“No, Harry, I don’t think that but er... well, maybe you can teach him to stop changing colours like that?” Harry looked down at Teddy for the first time and saw a pair of bright green eyes that mirrored his own looking back at him curiously. The baby’s hair had turned a lovely shade of Weasley red. Little Teddy Lupin currently looked exactly like a cross between him and Ginny to the casual observer. But Harry was not a casual observer and as he looked at Teddy he saw Tonks gazing out at him from Remus’s face, little fat fists waving about as he stared, fascinated, at Harry’s glasses. Harry looked up at Neville and swallowed heavily, blinking back the tears he could feel were coming.
“I’m his godfather,” he whispered. “This is Professor Lupin’s son. Voldemort ... Death Eaters have taken his parents. All he’s got is his godfather, me, and – and his grandmother.” He didn’t think he could hold back the tears much longer as the enormity of it all hit him with force and he turned away from Neville and looked back down at Teddy, who was still gazing at him serenely.
“He’s got me too,” whispered Neville, “he’s got me too.” Neville sounded on the brink of tears himself and Harry chanced a look at him.
“He’ll need us, Harry.” Harry nodded. He knew that was true and he knew that Teddy wasn’t going to suffer the same way that he and Neville had. He knew that as the last of his father’s friends and his godfather Harry could give to Teddy the things he never had. He knew that Neville would understand and Harry smiled tearfully at Neville.
“Yeah, he’s got us, hasn’t he?” Together the three of them slowly walked towards the Entrance Doors, pushed them open and stood in the sunlight, watching the first Voldemort-free day. Teddy’s little fist finally made contact with its goal and he knocked Harry’s glasses askew, grinning up at Harry with a toothless gummy smile and Harry felt his resolve crumble. This smiley little infant had no idea what he’d lost, no idea what sacrifice had been made for him, no idea the enormity of what had just happened and no idea that Harry had lost the last link to his parents. But at that moment the enormity of it hit Harry hard and he sank to the stone steps and tears began to drip down his cheeks as he began to shake with huge wracking sobs. He clutched tighter to Teddy and sobbed into his blankets as the infant began to bat his fists jerkily around Harry’s head, tangling fat fingers in his hair.
Harry didn’t notice Neville dash back into the Great Hall or hear the stampede of people rushing out again. It was only when he heard a slight commotion and felt a soft hand touch on his shoulder that he raised his head to see Mrs Weasley looking tearfully at him, the door to the Entrance Hall behind her blocked by five imposing red-heads and Neville while the inhabitants of Hogwarts argued with Bill Weasley, who was insisting that no one was going near Harry except his family and he’d had enough for now. It had, after all, been a long week.
“Harry,” Mrs Weasley was saying softly, “let me take Teddy. Andromeda will look after him. We can have a talk.” Harry stared at her, unseeing. He did not relinquish his grip on Teddy and tears continued to drip down his face. Teddy began to squirm and whimper softly as Mr Weasley and Mrs Tonks made their way past Charlie. Harry turned to look out across the grounds as tears continued to fall silently onto Teddy’s blankets.
“Harry, come on, let’s get you inside.”
“Harry,” and a hand touched his hair, smoothing it from his face. “Come on, Harry. Let’s have something to eat.” He did not answer them and he did not let Teddy go. He ignored the frantic whispering behind him and looked down at the baby in his arms who stopped wriggling and gazed at him solemnly. The enormity of what had happened and what was still to be done weighed heavily on his mind. He stared as Teddy’s hair changed to black and his eyes went brown but he didn’t really see. What was he going to do now?
“Harry,” said Mr Weasley softly, “come inside.” Harry continued to look at Teddy as he blew bubbles with his mouth, his tiny hands reaching again for Harry’s glasses and the frantic whispering behind him grew louder and a commotion began to erupt
“Let me take him, Harry.” a soft warm voice whispered and he felt a small, warm hand cover his own. Without really thinking about it, he let the small hands take the baby and then he let them encircle him in a hug as the owner of those small warm hands stroked his hair and her voice whispered words of comfort in his ear while he cried on her shoulder, enveloped in her flowery scent.