Author's note: Oh look at that, it's Battle of Hogwarts/Victoire Weasley's birthday. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns the canon, world, and characters portrayed below and you can tell I'm not J.K. Rowling because #transrights
Hogwarts: Assignment 9, Archaeology Task #2: Write about someone young dealing with a lot of responsibility
Content Warnings: References canon character deaths, grief
Don't You Shake Alone
There are times life will rattle your bones
And will bend your limbs
You're still far away the boy you've ever been
So you bend back and shake at the frame
Of the frame you made
But don't you shake alone
Please Avery, come home
-Dear Avery, The Decemberists
Molly closed her eyes as she rocked back and forth, enjoying the aftertaste of raspberry leaf tea in her mouth. The breeze flowing through the open window was chilly, but only to announce the coming turn of the seasons, nothing too bitter or cool. She opened her eyes and went back to the fussy and complicated cabled jumper she was knitting Arthur. The clicking of her needles was the only noise in the house, what with Arthur at work and the children scattered to the winds going about their business. It was one of the reasons that she nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the knock on the door and the crying baby, even if a familiar voice called out soon after: "Mrs. Weasley? Mrs. Weasley, it's Harry! And, umm, Teddy."
She put down her project and hurried over to the front door, where she found a very haggard-looking Harry with a diaper bag swung over his shoulder and a screaming bundle of blankets in his arms.
"Hello sweetheart, what's wrong?" she asked, ushering him into the house. Harry looked down at his godson and then up at her.
"I'm doing something wrong," he said, eyebrows furrowed and shoulders slunk in defeat.
"Whatever are you saying that for?" Molly said—even if she knew he must be referring to the baby's… well, frankly, they were screeches. You would think Teddy was half banshee, not werewolf.
"He's been screaming for hours," Harry said. "And I have no idea why—he's not hungry, his diaper's clean, he's been burped…"
"Well, babies are like that, sweetheart," Molly said sympathetically.
"I just… he looks like he's in pain," Harry winced.
"I'm sure he's alright—here, let me have a look…"
Harry handed over Teddy and wound a hand in his increasingly long hair. She'd offered to cut it for him when he'd come home after the battle, but he'd politely declined and it hung past his ears now. She suspected that he liked wearing it in a way his Muggles never would have approved of. She also suspected her daughter liked it that way too.
She cleared the table with a wave of her wand and lay Teddy down on the kitchen table, unwrapping the careful folds of the blanket Harry had swaddled him in. She tapped into her Healer training to go over a quick physical exam; no fever, good heartbeat, clear ears, nothing unusual in the abdomen, and his lungs—well, those were fine. Poor Teddy was bright red and he screamed with stiff arms, curled fists, an arched back, and stiff legs…
"I think he's just colicky, sweetheart," Molly said, scooping up the baby and bouncing him in her arms a little bit.
"Oh no—what's that?" Harry asked, paling.
"It's when babies sometimes cry and cry and cry without a clear reason, when they're fed and otherwise healthy," Molly said. She kissed the top of Teddy's head. Whether he'd meant to or not, he'd turned his hair a flamboyant lime green—in case somebody missed his screaming, possibly. "It's not clear why they do it, it might just be because their nervous and digestive systems are developing, or because they're still getting used to all kinds of stimulation in the world. Unless it interferes with their feeding it's harmless, really. Just tiring for everyone involved."
Harry sighed in relief, but his hand stayed knotted so tightly in his hair she was worried he'd rip out a chunk.
"He's alright?" Harry asked. His voice was so quiet, she almost didn't hear it over his godson's cries.
"Of course, love," Molly said. "And you had the right idea; sometimes swadling them helps, but sometimes not. It really depends on the baby, you have to go through tricks until something sticks."
"He didn't want his pacifier," Harry said.
"Hmm," Molly said. "Did you try holding him skin-to-skin?"
"I… I was running around so much, I almost forgot to put a shit on before coming here," Harry said.
"Let's try walking him around, then," Molly said. She kissed the top of the baby's head. "Maybe Mr Lupin here could use some fresh air."
She didn't mention it, but Harry certainly seemed like he could use some too. Another important lesson from her Healer days: sometimes taking care of little ones was actually about taking care of their grown-ups. So, Molly wrapped her shawl around her shoulders, they bundled up Teddy again despite his little cries, and went for a walk. The chickens seemed very hopeful when they saw Molly again, but lost interest when it became clear that she wouldn't be feeding them twice. They were winding their way through the apple orchard when Teddy calmed down and accepted the pacifier Harry offered him. Tuckered out and exhausted from all his previous exertions, he fell asleep in Harry's arms.
"There you go, sweetheart," Molly said. "You got him; he's alright."
"I really don't, you're the one who knew what to do," Harry said sheepishly.
"I've had seven children, Harry," Molly said. "A little thing called experience comes into play somewhere around the third one. Even if you don't have colicky twins, I suspect."
Harry cracked the tiniest of smiles at that, but it didn't last long. Worry crept up on his features again, and she could tell by his expression that its roots ran deep.
"I just… this is my first time watching him all on my own, without Andromeda around so she can actually get a break, and I'm so scared of doing it wrong."
"You're not doing it wrong," Molly said. "You're doing beautifully—that's a healthy, clean, well-fed, well-dressed baby you've got in your arms. What more could you ask for?"
"I suppose," Harry said quietly.
"Harry," Molly said more severely now. "I have known you for many years now."
"Yes, Mrs. Weasley."
"I have seen you face any number of obstacles that on their own would have made older, wiser wizards shatter—let alone all at once or combined. I've seen you take care of your friends, I've seen you organize students, I've seen you lead a Quidditch team, survive a war, destroy Horcruxes… you're a capable, loving, and responsible young man," she said.
Harry nodded and swallowed hard. "Yeah, I… I suppose it's because out of all those things, this—Teddy—feels like the most important part. I love being his godfather, I love it so much, but it's... Remus and Tonks chose me. They… they picked me out of all people, in case the worst happened, and it did. I want to do a good job. I have to do a good job."
Molly's stomach twisted but she focused on keeping it together for Harry, lest she fall apart completely. Because her heart broke when she thought of Tonks and her heart broke when she thought of Remus, and whenever she thought of anything even remotely related to the war, even when she saw the shoes she'd worn to the battle, she thought of Fred—and when she thought of Fred it wasn't just her heart that broke, it was all of her that shattered.
She reached out to pat his shoulder. Reached up, too. He'd been taller than her for some time now, but somehow he'd grown while chasing down Horcruxes, she swore it. It reminded her of how young he still was; a child, really, no matter what Wizarding law had to say about it. A child who had always had too much to carry. She hadn't always been able to help him with that load he bore. She was sure that there were moments where she thought, looking back, I should have done more, I should have known more, I should have dug for more truth. But there were other times in Harry's life where all she'd been able to do was keep him fed and warm and clothed and loved—she wasn't one for defensive magic, dark arts, secrets, and adventures. But this? This she could help with.
"It's a big responsibility," Molly said.
"It's not one that Remus or Tonks would have taken lightly," Molly said. "They wouldn't have asked you if they weren't sure that you were the best Teddy could have, and they were right. You are the best godfather he could have."
"It's hard to think that when I didn't even know what colic was," Harry said.
"But you knew to come to me," Molly said. "You knew you didn't need to carry it all anymore. You knew you weren't alone. And that's a wonderful thing you'll be able to teach Teddy, when the time comes."
"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley," Harry said, shoulders relaxed now as if she'd successfully talked him down.
"Of course, love," she said. "Now come on; let's go back inside and get some coffee in you. That's another important part of having a baby around, you know."
Harry smiled at that.
"Well, you're the expert," he said. He kissed the top of Teddy's head before they set off, walking back to the Burrow, her hand on his back.