Hi all! Finals, round 2 for my team in QLFC - this time I had to write about the Comb-A-Chameleon product, as sold by the Weasleys. So much fun.

Also, I have another GD update in me, I swear, but January has sucked. Am I right? Ugh. Back soon with that. Don't hate me please! Love you all so much.


15 August 2009

"Gran, we're going to go out in the garden," Teddy announced, already halfway out the back door. He held three-year-old Albus firmly by one hand and waited for five-year-old James to dash out ahead of them before closing the door.

Andromeda smiled and turned to Harry and Ginny. "I assume that's all right with you."

"Ted's just about the only person James will actually behave for," Ginny said, leaning forward to pour her another cup of tea. "So, of course."

Harry jiggled his leg; Lily was sitting on his knee, sucking her fingers and humming happily to herself.

"She's gotten big," Andromeda said, smiling at the toddler.

Harry grinned and pushed a curl of Lily's brilliant red hair back from her face. "She'll be two in October."

"I can't believe it—I can't believe how quickly they're all growing," Andromeda said, smiling as she leaned back against the couch, her teacup in hand. She looked down, thought for a moment, and then looked at Ginny and Harry again. "Actually, I—I was wondering if we could talk about last week."

Harry shifted uncomfortably, still holding Lily on his knee, and Ginny set down her teacup.

"No, no, I'm not upset," Andromeda began. "I know it's not—it's really just that I'm worried about what Teddy said afterwards."

Harry frowned. "What? What did he say?"

Last week, the Daily Prophet had, as it often did, featured a headline in its leisure section about the Potters. Ever since Ginny had started working at the newspaper's head offices in Diagon Alley, Rita Skeeter had made a concerted effort to get to know 's devoted avoidance of all such interaction, however, often led to certain stories appearing in the paper on slower news days. Last week's had been particularly unkind.

In addition to speculation on a possible fourth Potter pregnancy (being kept from the wizarding community for reasons unknown), the article had featured a photograph. It had actually been quite a nice one—a candid shot taken one afternoon as they had all left an ice cream parlor in Diagon Alley on the shopping trip for Teddy's school supplies. In the picture, Harry had both James and Albus by the hand, and each of them was helping to carry bags of Teddy's purchases. Beside them, Ginny, carrying a chocolate-smeared Lily in one arm and a parcel from Madam Malkin's in the other, was smiling down at Teddy as he walked next to her. As he occasionally did when he was out with Harry, Teddy had turned his hair jet-black that day. He passed extremely convincingly as a third Potter son.

Before Harry and Ginny had had their own children, Rita Skeeter's columns had typically featured at least one assertion that Teddy was their wartime lovechild. Now, however, she had chosen a different tack. Citing "young Eddy Lupin's adoration of his beloved godfather, and lack of familiarity with his own werewolf father, war hero Remus Lupin," Rita had painted a picture of a neglected orphan being raised by a strange, reclusive grandmother, both in awe of and obsessed with Harry.

When Ginny had gotten to that point in the article, Harry had taken the newspaper away from her for safety reasons.

"We would understand if you were angry," Ginny said, and Andromeda waved a hand.

"That Skeeter woman is going to write what she likes, and I have no doubt that she'll get her comeuppance," she replied with a wry smile. "And if it's anyone's fault, it's mine. I'm the one that sent him with you instead of taking him myself."

"You know we're always glad to have him," Harry told her, and she nodded. "So…what is it that he said, Andromeda?"

She sighed, giving her slim shoulders a shrug. "I asked him…I asked him if he often changes his hair to look like yours when he's with you," she said. "And he told me that he saw the photographers who'd recognized you all, and he did it then because…he didn't want to look different. Is…is that right?" Andromeda met his eyes. Her gently lined face was creased with worry, her eyes dark and thoughtful.

Ginny blinked and turned to Harry, who had turned Lily around in his lap so that she could lean forward against his shoulder. He was quiet for a moment. "Honestly…I don't remember him Metamorphosing that day, specifically. I mean, he must have because I remember he had his blue hair when we went out…" He looked at Ginny rather helplessly.

"He's afraid of looking different?" she asked Andromeda. "That's what he said?"

"Well, in his way," she replied. "He doesn't admit to being scared—I can't imagine where he's got that from—but he told me that he Metamorphosed on purpose to look like Al and James. And—there are other things, too. He asked me about how the Sorting Hat works, the other day, because he thought that if he knew ahead of time, he could figure out how to avoid being put in Ravenclaw."

"He wants to avoid Ravenclaw?" Harry asked, totally perplexed, as Lily made a sucking noise on her fingers. Ginny took her from him. "Why?"

"Well, I don't know if it's that exactly, but I thought about it, and he must be trying to avoid being different. I think he imagines that being in Gryffindor would be all right since there's his father, and his godfather, and you and your whole family," said Andromeda, gesturing at Ginny, "and Hufflepuff would be all right because he'd be like his mother and grandfather—and even Slytherin would be okay, because he'd be like me. But…I think he's getting to be afraid of being singled out, truthfully."

Harry folded his hands between his knees and looked down for a moment. "I can understand that."

"That article didn't help," Ginny said softly.

"And, of course, he's at the age to start feeling self-conscious, I know that," Andromeda said. Then, she blinked quickly. "But…I—I don't think I could stand by and let him feel for a moment that he's anything less than the wonderful boy we all know him to be. If he wants to Metamorphose, that's fine—it's wonderful, actually—" She broke off and swallowed, and for a moment, Harry saw how much she, too, loved getting the same little reminder of Tonks that he got every time he watched Teddy screw up his face and transform with a small pop.

Andromeda took a breath. "But I want him to transform because he likes looking that way—not because he hates looking like himself."

There was a long stretch of silence, during which Lily slid off of Ginny's knees and wobbled over to Andromeda, who pulled the baby up onto the couch beside her with a smile.

Finally, Ginny spoke, and Harry looked up from his own hands. "So…" She looked from Harry to Andromeda. "What are we going to do about it?"

31 August 2009

"Oh, we're going to miss you so much, Teddy, darling," Molly was saying as Andromeda spun to a halt in the fireplace of the Burrow. She stepped out of the grate, brushing ashes from her sleeves.

"I'll be home at Christmas!" he reminded her cheerfully, but he allowed Molly to hug him again, ruffling his brown hair. "Will you send me some mince pies, though, to tide me over?"

"Ted," Andromeda admonished, but Molly chuckled.

"I'm sure we can arrange something," she said, moving to greet Andromeda as well. "Hello, dear—"

"Hello," Andromeda beamed, kissing her cheeks.

"Is Harry here yet?" Teddy asked. "He said he was going to be late from work—"

"Everyone's here. We're all out in the garden—it's so nice out," Molly told him, putting an arm around his shoulders and guiding him in the direction of the door. "Why don't you run along?" she suggested. "Your gran and I will be right behind you with some pumpkin juice."

"All right," Teddy said happily, and he hurried out the door into the sunshine.

"They did it?" Andromeda asked, turning to Molly, who smirked proudly as she drew an electric-blue hairbrush from her pocket. Its bristles were each vibrating slightly, each pulsing a neon rainbow of colors, as if Andromeda were looking at the scales of a living creature.

"The Comb-A-Chameleon, George calls it," Molly smiled. "Three hours, guaranteed. Let's do ours. Come on, the bathroom's here…"


Teddy's voice echoed across the garden, and Andromeda nearly burst out laughing as Molly shunted her along the hallway. When they emerged minutes later and hurried outside, it was to find a sight that might have been considered bizarre anywhere but the garden of Molly and Arthur Weasley.

Ten or so people had gathered for Teddy's going-away dinner, and every last one of them were sporting manes and coifs of vibrantly, violently brilliant shades of blue, green, pink, red, yellow, violet, and every color in between. Harry was enjoying a Weasleyish shade of orange, while Ginny had received a striking ponytail of emerald green; the little hair that Arthur still had on the sides of his head was a dazzling robin's-egg blue; Ron's was a similar shade of turquoise, while Hermione's Comb-A-Chameleon hairstyling session had yielded a cherry-red on her curls. Hugo and Lily, the two youngest guests, were sporting identical shades of sour-apple green and giggling madly to themselves as they played in a Flutterby bush, while Rose, James, and Albus ran past hollering at the tops of their lungs—with yellow, purple, and magenta hair, respectively.

Andromeda couldn't hold back a smile as she and Molly came up behind a thoroughly bewildered and mildly distressed eleven-year-old trying to reason with Ron.

"No, listen to me," Teddy pleaded. "Your hair is blue."

Ron, who had his hands on his knees as he bent slightly to look into Teddy's face, made a noise of concern. "I think we've got to get your eyes checked, mate."

Teddy gave a howl of anguish, and Hermione ruffled Teddy's hair affectionately.

"Ron's just teasing you, sweetheart," she assured him, flicking one of her tomato-red waves over her shoulder casually.

"But you've got red hair!" Teddy cried. "And Harry's orange for some reason, and—" He broke off in the middle of a wild gesticulation, turning around and catching sight of Molly and Andromeda. "Oh, Merlin's pants."

Fighting hard to keep a straight face, Andromeda smoothed back a waist-length strand of her own violet hair and said, "Language, Teddy, darling." She patted his shoulder, and he gaped at her.

"What did you all do?" Teddy asked Molly, who was now sporting neon-pink curls around her shoulders.

"Oh, do you like the party, dear?" she asked. "I've made strawberry tarts for dessert—I know they're your favorite."

Andromeda couldn't help but laugh at that, and Teddy looked at her. "Gran," he said, his eyes wide. "Have you gone mad?"

At that moment, Harry approached them, putting an arm around Andromeda. "We just wanted to send off our favorite eleven-year-old the right way," he told Teddy.

"The right way?" Teddy repeated.

"We look like you, Teddy!" James shrieked, running up to him with Albus and Rose on his heels, all giggling madly. "Look, now I'm like you!" He ran his hands through his lavender-colored hair, making it stand up nearly on end. He gave another mad laugh before throwing his arms around Teddy's waist.

Almost as though he didn't realize he'd done it, Teddy raised a hand and touched his own brown hair, looking amazed. "Like me?" he laughed. He caught Andromeda's eye, as if asking her a question.

Unable to swallow the lump in her throat, she winked at him. He screwed up his face in concentration, and—pop—his hair was suddenly the exact same shade of violet as hers.