Title: What Remains
Summary: After the final battle Harry finds himself questioning many things and to his surprise and great relief he finds some of the answers from an unlikely source…
Author's Note: This is my first dabble into writing ff for the wonderful world of Harry Potter. The immediate aftermath of the last battle was never really explored or talked about in canon or in the films and I've always been curious as to how Harry may have held up during the first few days after his fight with Voldemort. This little one-shot explores that and allows me to write about a little character that I adore who had very minor cameos in the final book, but whose early start in life tragically echoed that of his famous godfathers. I hope I do the characters justice and I do hope those of you who read this enjoy! Reviews, comments, critiques and suggestions are always welcomed! Happy Thanksgiving!
Almost a week had passed since the last battle which had finally brought about the end of Voldemort. Harry found it strange how little, yet at the same time how much had changed during the relatively short time since he had defeated Voldemort.
One thing was obvious though, the magical world was in the midst of mourning and celebration. Mourning those who had perished and the things that had been lost, but celebrating the sacrifices made that allowed them to usher in this new era of peace and he really couldn't blame them.
Part of him wanted to join them but the other part…well he wasn't quite sure. He knew he should feel the same profound sadness and loss everyone else was feeling, after all few could claim to have lost and sacrificed more than him. He also knew that just like everyone else he should be overjoyed and celebrating the fact that after all these years it was finally over.
Oh he was relieved of course, the kind of relief one feels when after a long day's work they finally slump tiredly into bed and fall almost immediately to sleep. But other than that he felt very little. He felt numb as though he were merely going through the motions, almost like he was running on autopilot.
Had Ron and Hermione been there he was sure they would have suspected something was not right, but they were busy with their own affairs trying to piece back their own lives like the rest of the wizarding world. They had offered to have him go with them or to stay with him but he had refused, assuring them that he would be fine and that he needed the time for himself.
It's not as though they hadn't seen each other since then; after all there were memorials and services to attend, and there were still more yet to be held. Fred's had been two days ago and Remus and Tonks' was set for the day following tomorrow.
The thought of it brought a pang of…guilt, remorse, and anger but even that was quelled by the growing numbness spreading through his being. At Fred's funeral he had watched the Weasely family and others, who he cared for and loved as his own family, grieve for him. Fred had meant as much to him as any of the other Weasley's yet he had felt a hollow rift begin to open between himself and the others. He saw their sadness and heartbreak and though he felt it as well he could not help the feeling of detachment that had also settled within him. As everyone around him released their grief through silent tears and gut-wrenching sobs he found his own eyes devoid of any moisture.
In fact he had not cried since the final battle, and now that he thought about it he had not really felt anything since then just a bone aching weariness that he assumed would leave with a good night's rest.
Fred's death had added to the number of people he had cared for and lost and it seemed to him that loss was just another thing he was growing accustomed to. It seemed cold and callous but he was just so tired.
All his life he had been set on a course with only two possible outcomes. Life or Death. It hadn't been fair and he had felt that terrible heavy burden of others hopes and expectations lying solely on his shoulders, but yet he had still decided to meet his destiny head on. Dumbledore had once told him that what separated him from Voldemort was love, his ability to care for others and what happened to them.
That's why he had fought so hard for so long. Not only because he wanted to survive, to live, but because he cared about what would happen to the people he loved should he fail. He cared about all the innocent, good people that he didn't know who were and would suffer more if Voldemort won.
So he had fought with all that he had and in the end he had succeeded. However, now after everything that had happened he just felt numb and…empty.
He had played his part and done what everyone had hoped he could do, but at what price? He felt drained and as much as he tried he just couldn't seem to bring himself to care anymore.
He did what he had unwillingly been destined to do; he no longer owed anyone anything. Let the wizarding world settle its own affairs now. He had been the hero they had wanted him to be and he had triumphed, but somehow the victory was starting to feel hollow.
What was he to do now?
Perhaps that was how it was supposed to be, the magical world was on the cusp of an era of peace, it had been saved. But did he really have a place in this new world after all he had ever known had been war and loss. Was he meant to adapt again, and if so to what ends. Yes the magical world had been saved, but had it been saved for him as well? He wasn't so sure.
He was suddenly brought out of his thoughts when the doorbell rang. The answering shrieks that would have accompanied it only days before were mercifully absent thanks to Kretcher. Of all the places Harry could have decided to stay at he had chosen the unlikeliest of them all but it just felt right, one of the few things that did at the moment. From the kitchen Harry could hear Kretcher open the front door and invite the unexpected visitor in.
Standing slowly he moved to the kitchen door and opened it allowing him a clear view of the front door. Following closely behind the house elf Harry recognized Andromeda Tonks' stately figure as she approached him.
Overcoming his surprise he moved quickly to meet her.
"Uh, Mrs. Tonks I'm sorry I wasn't expecting anyone, how can I help you? Is something wrong?" he asked uncertainly, looking back at the women who he had only met a few times and whose uncanny resemblance to her mad sister still managed to unnerve him.
She shook her head brushing aside his apology.
"I think it is I who should be apologizing Mr. Potter for dropping in on you so unexpectedly but I'm here on a matter of some urgency and I was hoping we could talk."
Harry inclined his head and motioned for her to follow him. He led her to the drastically altered sitting room where he offered her a chair while he took the one opposite of her. As she sat he noticed for the first time the small bundle she was holding in her arms as she gently readjusted her hold on it.
Realizing what exactly that tightly wrapped bundle was another round of guilt and remorse shot through him. Quickly averting his eyes he looked once more at the older woman. She looked sadly back at him, her appearance echoing the weariness he was feeling.
"How can I help you Mrs. Tonks?" he asked breaking the uncomfortable silence that had settled.
"Andromeda is fine Mr. Potter and again I apologize for stopping by without calling first but I was in town settling some…affairs and Molly said I could find you here." She began.
Harry nodded understanding to what affairs she referred to.
"Please call me Harry and you don't have to apologize you aren't bothering me. I am curious though as to how you found this place?"
She smiled briefly at him, "I'm sure you haven't forgotten that I was a Black before I became a Tonks."
Hadn't he just compared her to her sister of few minutes ago, of course she would have known where to find this place. She had probably been here a hundred times when she was a child.
Managing to look slightly abashed Harry allowed her to continue.
"I came actually because I have a request of you. You may refuse it if you like after all you are under no obligation to comply it is your choice."
Harry nodded, "Very well, may I ask what it is you want to know?"
Harry noticed her hold on the little bundle tighten ever so slightly as she steeled herself to ask him whatever it was that had brought her there to seek him out.
"I am aware that shortly after Teddy was born my daughter and Remus agreed to ask you to be his Godfather. They told me that you had accepted and they had planned on making it official, however that was before…well yes as you can see they were not able to. Before Nymphadora…left she asked me to see to any unfinished business should she and Remus be unable to and this was one of the things. My daughter and Remus admired, respected and cared for you very much Harry. I know that they would want no one else to be Teddy's Godfather and guardian, after myself of course. But I am not as young as I used to be and I won't always be there. I will need help and I would like to know that Teddy will be looked after and taken care of when I am no longer here. My daughter and Remus were many things but I know that the love they had for each other was only surpassed by the love they had for their son. I know they chose who would be his godfather carefully and in their decision I find no fault. I know it is a great responsibility and though you've already agreed to it once I ask you again if you would be Teddy's godfather. It's what Nymphadora and Remus wanted but is it what you want Harry, after all so much has changed. The decision is entirely up to you and I will not judge you should you refuse." She said evenly though her voice seemed to waver ever so slightly when she spoke of her daughter.
Harry stared blankly at her for a moment trying to process what she had just told him. He cleared his throat and rose quickly from his seat.
"Would you like something to drink?" he asked abruptly trying to think of a reason to excuse himself from her presence. She smiled sadly up at him looking at him with something akin to sympathy.
She inclined her head, "Yes that would be lovely thank you."
Trying not to rush out of the room Harry exited it and made his way into the kitchen. Once inside he walked over to the sink and pulled two glasses from the cupboard overhead. He placed them on the edge of the sink and reached over to turn on the faucet, however as he did he only then noticed how badly his hands were shaking.
He hastily ran them through his untidy hair in an attempt to stop the tremors running through them. He knew this would happen after all he had readily agreed to it when Remus had first asked him. He had been honored and touched by the gesture and he had genuinely been excited about it, but then the war happened and pushed everything else out of his mind.
Now…now things were different. He still felt honored by the fact that Andromeda still wanted him to be Teddy's godfather but he also felt uncertain whether he should accept. Like she had said it was a great responsibility but not only that, could he really be what the little boy needed.
After all he had already been so neglectful in his duties and Teddy's parent hadn't even been laid to rest yet. Would he be to Teddy like Sirius was to him? He didn't want to be but he was afraid he might be.
He had loved Sirius that much was true, in Sirius he had found a missing piece that he had not had since his parents had died. Sirius had given Harry a glimpse of what family could be and hope that he might one day get to live like that permanently, but then just like that it was gone…Sirius was gone.
Did he have it in himself to stay and be there for Teddy? He could barely manage to figure out what to do with himself now, how was he supposed to have any answers or know what to do for Teddy.
He sighed, this should be an easy answer but with all the doubts and uncertainty lingering in his mind he didn't know what he should do. He certainly owed it to Tonks and Remus but at the same time he felt as if Teddy deserved more than he was able to offer him.
Filling the two glasses quickly Harry made his way back to the sitting room having already taken longer than necessary to fetch the two drinks.
He found Andromeda standing in front of the large tapestry of the family tree that took up one of the walls as she gently swayed side to side. As he watched her he couldn't help the pang of sadness that the image brought forth. He cleared his throat to announce his return.
"I haven't seen this thing since I was a girl." She said continuing to look at the faces of her relatives. Many of them were glaring darkly at her or just plan refusing to acknowledge her presence.
She slowly reached out a hand and traced the golden line that led to the dark scorch mark where here name was. She then moved her hand towards the other scorch mark closest to hers where Sirius' name shown dully.
Quietly as if talking to herself she spoke well tracing the letters of Sirius's name.
"He was always my favorite cousin; he made the visits to this place bearable…"
Harry walked forward to stand beside her. She took the glass from him with a nod of thanks then returned her attention to the tapestry.
"He told me once that you were his favorite cousin too, he said that anyone who came out the least bit decent in his family was immediately disowned. That's why only some of the pictures are blasted."
Andromeda smiled slightly.
"I knew him extremely well when we were little but after everything that happened we lost touch. Even when he came back here I only saw him once on business for the Order, but Nymphadora got to know him and they became close. She would talk about him occasionally and from what she told me I realized that my dear cousin had changed but at the very core he was still the same boy I grew up with."
Harry looked at her, "And who was he?"
"The same boy who was stalwart in his loyalty and defense of the people and ideals he held dear. When we were little it was me and Regulus he always looked after and defended, then it was me and his friends from Hogwarts including your parents. Then it was his four closest friends and the Order."
"What about after…when he came back here?" Harry asked feeling like he knew the answer but wanted to her Andromeda confirm it.
At this she looked at him, an underlying sadness belaying the kindness in her expression.
"My cousin was many things; he was rash, quick tempered and often times acted without thought. He was stubborn and often times moody, but according to Nymphadora there was only one person who could lift all the years, worries and woes from his shoulders. You were the most important thing to him Harry. Nymphadora told me that he took his responsibility as your Godfather very serious and he would have done anything to keep you safe and happy. I know he was a changed man at the end but never for one second doubt how he felt about you Harry. For you see we were born into a family that disowned and loathed us and our choices, but Sirius found a new family with his friends and ultimately with you and that is something that not many people get to do or experience in their lifetimes." She told him somberly as she gazed steadily back at him.
Harry felt his eyes burn at Andromeda's words. The grandfather clock in the room however, chimed and shattered the moment. Andromeda turned to look at the clock and sighed softly.
"I did not realize how much time has passed," she said turning once more to regard him, "I hate to inconvenience you further Harry but could I possibly use your fire place. I'm running a little late to an appointment and I need to contact them to let them know I will be there just slightly behind schedule."
Harry nodded his head.
"Of course it's not a problem. The floo powder is in a jar right on the mantle, you can use the one in the kitchen for privacy."
She smiled at him and was about to walk past him when she stopped.
"Would you mind holding Teddy for me while a make the call? I won't be long and he is asleep which shouldn't change in the near future." She asked him a little uncertainly.
Harry cleared his throat and looked nervously at the bundle in her arms. He was about to politely refuse when he saw the pleading look she was wearing. He set his glass aside and moved forward slowly. Without any further prompting Andromeda carefully positioned his arms with one hand and then before Harry could change his mind she gently placed little Teddy into them.
She quickly readjusted the blankets that swaddled the little boy then with a gentle smile and a nod of thanks she quietly slipped out of the room.
Harry stiffened further when the baby in his arms stirred slightly and a let out a soft whimper. He looked down at the little bundle in his arms and for the first time he laid eyes on Remus and Tonks' child (apart from the picture Remus had shown him what seemed like ages ago).
The little boys' little tuft of hair was turning color from a light turquoise to a deep midnight blue as his features scrunched up in what Harry feared was the beginning signs of an oncoming tantrum at being rudely disturbed from his rest.
He looked at the boy and saw traces of both parents in the delicate features of his face. Apart from the obvious skill of being a metamorphous he had also seemed to inherit Tonks's nose and mouth. However, the shape of his eyes echoed that of his fathers and Harry wondered if they were the same honey-gold color as Remus's.
As if reading his thoughts Teddy's eyes suddenly flew open and his gaze immediately settled on Harry. Expecting the worst Harry prepared himself for the loud bawling that was sure to follow given that Teddy had just been woken up and was currently in the arms of someone he had never seen or been around before.
Instead much to Harry's relief and surprise the little boy just continued to study him quietly. He'd been right; Teddy had his father's eyes. As Teddy continued to regard him in a manner that seemed more fitting to someone years older, Harry grew apprehensive.
Clearing his throat he spoke quietly to the baby in his arms.
"Hello Teddy, I'm your…my name is Harry. I knew your parents, they were good people…they were my friends. I'm sorry about…well a lot I suppose, but I'm glad to finally meet you mate. You look a lot like them you know…I'm sure they would have been proud. Actually I know they were…" he said haltingly and a little hesitantly, after all it wasn't everyday he had a one-sided conversation with a baby.
Slightly encouraged by the fact that he hadn't cried yet Harry smiled at him.
"Your parents were very brave people and maybe when you're older I can tell you stories about them." He said as he again smiled at the little boy and began to rock him gently without really thinking about what he was doing.
At his words or the soothing motion of being rocked, or perhaps it was the smile Harry was bestowing upon him, or maybe a combination of all three Teddy Lupin smiled back at him. His toothless grin that was so endearing from a child so young seemed to stir something within Harry. Still smiling Teddy's hair began to turn back into the light turquoise it had been.
"I'm sorry…one day you'll understand and you'll know why but I want you to know that they loved you very much…" he said uncertainly. After all he was talking to an infant about things beyond his grasp, but he needed to tell him even if it was just to make himself feel better.
Teddy's hair began to turn a deep shade of green as he continued to look up at Harry, he was now making little gurgling sounds that only babies make, but his gaze remained fixed on Harry.
He ran a finger gently down the green fuzz atop Teddy's head and smiled.
"That's the first time I've ever seen his hair turn that color, I say he's quite taken with you Mr. Potter." Andromeda's voice jolted him out of his musings.
"Please just Harry's fine" he corrected automatically still looking down at the infant in his arms. Teddy yawned slightly and snuggled deeper into his hold, his eyes slowly sweeping shut.
"Remus told me that within hours of being born his hair had changed colors from black, red, turquoise and everything in between." He added quietly as Andromeda came to stand by him.
He heard a sad sigh escape her but he didn't look up, he didn't think he could bear to see the sadness etched on her face.
"Yes. Teddy seems to favor different colors for different moods. He usually sports that customary turquoise but on occasion his true hair color seeps out. As for red you best avoid that color, it signals an oncoming fit. However, I've never seen him change his hair to this color of green. It's the exact color of your eyes." She said softly as she tenderly caressed the sleeping baby's cheek.
With a jolt Harry realized she was telling the truth.
That simple innocent gesture broke through Harry's reserve as nothing had been able to so far.
Before today little Teddy had never set eyes on him, yet somehow he had trusted him so implicitly and seemed to find something familiar and reassuring in Harry that in the only way he knew how he had shown Harry how he felt.
It was something so simple yet so amazing that it shattered Harry's indifference.
Little Teddy's eyes were once again shut as Harry continued to look at him. He could feel everything that he had been holding back since that terrible day bubbling within him waiting to break forth.
Keeping his eyes on the dozing child in order to avoid Andromeda's knowing gaze Harry began: "I don't know if I can do it. I'm pretty sure I'd be rubbish and probably do more harm than good. I know I owe it to Remus and Tonks…"
Before he could continue he felt Andromeda place her hand under his chin as she lifted his face to meet her gaze.
"Harry listen to me when I tell you this. You Do Not Owe Anyone Anything. You've done and accomplished more than anyone could ever hope to or should even be asked to do. I do not want you to agree to this because of some miss placed sense of guilt. Nymphadora and Remus knew what they were getting into and died fighting for a cause they believed in. Their deaths or anyone else's deaths were not your fault. You must stop blaming yourself. It is time to look to the future. One that now looks bright. One that my daughter, her husband, yourself and many others fought so long and hard for; so that future generations would know peace. You helped make possible the future that Nymphadora and Remus wanted for Teddy. I only hope that you will be part of that future, but the decision is yours and I will not hold it against you. I know how much I am asking of you. However for what it's worth I don't believe you'd be rubbish. My daughter and son-in-law knew what they were doing when they chose you. If you agree I know Teddy will be very lucky indeed to have you in his life. He will need people like you, and perhaps Mr. Potter he may be just what you need as well." She told him kindly, but with a firmness and resolve that left Harry with no argument.
As she pulled her hand from under his chin she gently brushed away the tears that, to Harry's surprise and chagrin, had been falling down his cheeks. Sensing his embarrassment she took her hand away and allowed him a moment to compose himself.
Turning and wiping his face on his shoulder the best he could he quickly cleared his throat. When he spoke however he was dismayed to hear the unsteadiness of his voice.
"On some rational level I know their deaths aren't my fault but I can't help but feel guilty. Its how I've always been, just ask Ron and Hermione, but it's something I can deal with later. Thank you though, your words mean a lot and even though I know you don't want it or even think I need to say it I feel like I do. I'm sorry… for everything. I'm sorry about Sirius. I'm sorry about Mr. Tonks. I'm sorry about your sister. I'm sorry about Remus and I'm sorry about Nymphadora. I wish more than anything that things had turned out differently, that it was them here talking to you and holding Teddy. But it isn't and it won't ever be…" he faltered as his voice broke. He turned away and took a deep breath before continuing.
"But there is one thing I can at least do for you and for them. I don't know what they were thinking when they picked me but they did. Had they lived I would have gladly accepted their offer and it seems even more important that I honor their wishes since they aren't here. I don't know what being a Godfather really entails but if Teddy ever needs anything I will be there for him in any way I can. Mrs. Tonks I would be honored to be Teddy Lupin's Godfather and I give you my word that he will never want for anything." He replied solemnly as he tore his eyes away from the sleeping baby to meet Andromeda's gaze.
Her eyes glistened with unshed tears as she nodded her thanks and acceptance.
"Once again you show that my Dora and Remus knew what they were about when they named you Teddy's Godfather. You've just lifted a weight off of these old bones Mr. Potter. Merlin, it's no surprise we won with you on our side." She replied softly her voice catching.
Harry returned her sad smile as they stood there in companionable silence their gazes drifting to the slumbering baby resting peacefully in Harry's arms.
A few moments had passed before Andromeda gently cleared her throat. "The hour grows late and I have already taken enough of your time. I really must be on my way; there is so much to do and so little time…"
Harry nodded in understanding. "Of course, if there is anything I can do please let me know."
She smiled at him as he carefully transferred the sleeping baby into her waiting arms.
"Thank you Harry I appreciate it but I think I'll manage. I will have the legal papers drawn up as soon as I can and have them sent over to you so you can sign them, making you Teddy's Godfather officially."
He nodded once more, "Thank you."
He walked her to the door and helped her with her cloak.
"I suppose I will see you the day after next." He said awkwardly, not quite sure how to say goodbye.
She looked at him, her keen eyes seeing more than he wanted her too. She brought her free hand up and gently placed it upon his cheek.
"Yes you will, but remember Harry you're always welcome anytime. You know where to find us. I would love the company and I know Teddy would too. He's already taken a liking to you and before long you'll be his favorite person." She told him, giving him the first genuine carefree smile he had seen since she arrived.
He smiled in return but it didn't reach his eyes. "I shouldn't be his favorite person…"
"I remember when you were a baby, much to your mother's and father's chagrin, the one person who could always make you laugh and whose arms you never refused was Sirius. Though your parents were at times put-out by the fact that their son had a favorite, they never really took it to heart. They knew that they were lucky enough to have someone in their lives that cared just as much about you as they did and that should anything happen to them would look after you as his own. You were happiest when it was all of them together, and ultimately that is what mattered to them. If Remus and my daughter were here they would tell you the same thing and they'd be immensely grateful that you would be willing take on that role." She interrupted him, already knowing what he was going to say.
Harry sighed but after a moment offered Andromeda a genuine smile of his own.
"I'm the one who is grateful. Tonks, Remus, you, and Teddy have given me something that I desperately needed and didn't think I'd be able to find. I will strive and do my very best to be and always remain one of Teddy's favorites."
Andromeda laughed softly and brushed his cheek affectionately before withdrawing it.
"I'll hold you to it Mr. Potter." She replied.
Harry reached out and gently stroked Teddy's downy hair.
"I'll see you later Mate, don't give your Grandmother too much trouble." He whispered softly to the sleeping infant.
A ghost of a smile lit upon Teddy's face briefly before disappearing. Both adults smiled at one another as Harry moved to open the door. He stepped aside as Andromeda stepped out onto the outside entry way.
With a brief smile and a nod she turned and began making her way down the steps and then down the sidewalk.
As Harry watched her disappear around the corner the emptiness and numbness he had been feeling earlier seemed to have disappeared with her. As he turned to go back in he felt a light-heartedness he had not felt in ages. Much to his surprise he felt the tickle of a tear as it rolled down his face.
Closing the door he leaned against it as more tears followed the first, then without warning he began to laugh. Hearing the commotion Kreacher came from the kitchen to see what was happening.
"Is Master alright?" asked the bemused elf.
Harry nodded his head trying to regain control.
"Yes Kreacher I'm fine or at least I will be." He told him when he had finally managed to catch his breath.
Looking uncertainly at him the elf asked: "Does Master require anything of Kreacher? Does Master want Kreacher to prepare his wardrobe for the next day?"
Harry shook his head, "No I got that, but what I need you to do is get me some supplies. I'll write you a list of what we need. We're going to be redecorating the spare bedroom."
"Master does not like how the spare bedroom is right now?" asked the confused elf.
"Oh I like it well enough but it doesn't have what it needs for its future occupant. You see Kreacher we are going to have a very special house guest.", replied Harry as he began to make his way up the stairs to his bedroom.
"For how long Master?", Kreacher called out to him.
Harry turned and smiled at the bewildered house elf then turned and continued on his way. As he reached the top landing he called back over his shoulder to the elf at the bottom.
"Indefinitely!" he said, his soft laughter filling up the empty spaces of the house as he continued up the next flight of stairs.