Well I started writing this when I started writing Rain, but after three chapters I got blocked. Anyway, it was on the other computer, and that was unplugged and moved, and until I could get to it I couldn't get the story back. Anyway, I still only have three chapters, but I like the story, and figured having it posted would motivate me. It's more like a series of one-shots, I suppose, but they are connected.
Child of War
Summary: Hogwarts answers the questions of those who ask. Teddy Lupin is a child of war, and he has many questions.
Chapter One - Cold Glass Surface
"But Grandma..." Four year old Teddy struggled to find the words. "Why did my parents have to die to make the world better? Were they bad people?"
Andromeda saw his wide eyed fear and reassured him quickly. "No, no, Teddy, they were great people." She pulled him onto her knee, realising that, in all her efforts, and Harry's efforts, to explain just why the boy was an orphan, they had confused him. "You see, they didn't have to die for the world to be better. That's not what we mean."
Teddy remained silent, looking into her grey eyes, so trustingly it scared her, and waiting.
"They died fighting, Ted, you know that, don't you?" He nodded. "They were fighting to make the world better, fighting to make a safe place for you to grow up in, to live in."
"But why did they have to die?" His young, innocent mind didn't understand, and she didn't know how to explain it to him. Didn't understand it herself.
"They didn't." She told him finally. "The world would have been just a good - better, even - with them in it. Don't ever think they were bad, okay?"
He nodded again, in the naive, trusting way children do.
"They loved you, very much, Teddy. Remember that."
He still didn't understand, didn't truly comprehend why they were no longer with him, and somewhere amidst the confusion was doubt...If they loved him, surely they'd never have left him...
They'd often said he was like his parents. That he had their caring, loving nature. They said he got his clumsiness from his mum, as well as her metamorphamagus abilities. They said he was more like his mother, yet sometimes acted like his dad.
He didn't know if they were lying or not. He didn't know his parents.
Teddy had been at Hogwarts for a month now, and mostly knew his way around. And yet, the castle was still so new to him, so unfamiliar, but it was already a home, a place he was happy and accepted.
It was also the place his parents had died. The doors to the magnificent castle had been the last ones they'd passed through alive. The dirt and grass of the lawns had been the last thing they'd ran upon. The scent of the trees, the lake, mingled in the air, had been the last scent to reach them.
He'd been afraid to come here. Afraid that he'd be tormented by the images of their deaths - somehow, he'd thought that being here would give him memories he didn't posses - afraid that he'd see marks on the ground of where they'd landed.
He hadn't, of course. And he'd accepted that, really, being here didn't make their deaths more real. In actuality, here, if he closed his eyes and concentrated, he could pretend he had parents at home, who would write to him, who missed him, who were counting down the days till Christmas when he would return to them.
Not tonight, though. He didn't want to pretend. He didn't want to sleep. He wanted to wonder the castle as his father had done, to find hidden passages and the secrets of the castle.
It was dark, but he didn't mind the dark, and it made it easier to keep to the shadows. He didn't have any idea where he was heading, randomly choosing corridors, going up and down stairs if his instincts told him to, and hoping that he wouldn't get completely lost. Or end up in a teacher's bedroom. Not only would it be disturbing, it would be extremely hard to explain.
He never knew what made him stop at the particular door, other than that it seemed so unfamiliar, so unused, almost as if it had formed there for him, and only him.
He reached for the handle, unsurprised when it turned easily, when the door opened without a single creak. Of course the door opened; the room wanted him to see what it contained, wanted to share its secrets with him.
There was only one window in the room, a small, perfectly round one, letting in the moonlight, which conveniently illuminated the only thing the room held. Teddy smiled wryly at the set up, the object perfectly circled by the moonlight, glinting and beckoning him.
Teddy moved forward, idly thinking it was overly cliché to set the room up in this way. Then his thoughts ended, because he caught sight of the etchings on the top of the mirror.
He knew this mirror. He had been told of it, told of what it did. He knew what it had shown his godfather, a lifetime ago. And Teddy knew what it would show him.
He stepped closer, closer, until his reflection was clear. And, just as he'd known they would, two people stepped forward, one on either side of his reflection.
The man was gazing at him in wonder, the women's gaze was searching him, as though determined to etch him into her mind for all eternity. Teddy looked at them for several long seconds, recognising them and yet seeing them for the first time, knowing them and yet knowing they were little more than strangers.
And then, he asked the question he'd wanted to ask for years, for as long as he could remember, the question that had burned his mind and ached his little heart.
"Did you love me?" He whispered.
It was almost as if they'd heard him, but they weren't real, Teddy knew, and so they couldn't. Harry had explained the mirror, explained that it showed only the heart's desire, not reality of truth.
But Teddy could have sworn they heard him. His father tilted his head, looked at him with an almost guilty expression, and placed his arm around the shoulder of the reflection of Teddy. His mother's eyes filled with tears, but she smiled at him as she crouched down, looped her arm around the reflection's waist in a kind of hug.
He saw it. He saw his answer; he saw their love.
He wasn't crying. Maybe he ought to have been, in that moment when he was looking at what he could have had, the parental love he'd missed out on, the family he should have belonged to. But his eyes were dry.
He lifted a hand, slowly, and touched it to the surface of the mirror. She'd known he was going to, his mum, as she'd lifted her own hand, too. They met, their flattened palms pressed against either side of the glass.
And Teddy closed his eyes tightly and tried to pretend that he could feel the warmth of life against his palm, feel soft skin. But instead, he felt the cold, hard surface of the glass beneath his hand.
He opened his eyes, and looked into his mother's, who was regarding him sadly. She knew, thought Teddy, that he was waiting for the glass to warm beneath his touch to make it easier to pretend. But the glass refused to heat, remained cold and impersonal, taunting him.
They're not real. They don't exist.
He withdrew his hand quickly, suddenly, and his mum lowered her own, slowly and sadly. Teddy looked up at his father, who gave a tiny nod as though to say he understood.
"It isn't fair." Teddy murmured, looking at the way they stood, protective of his mirror-image, loving. He shook his head, backed from the room, and pulled the door closed behind him. He'd wanted to feel, just once, his mother's touch.
Instead, he'd found a cold glass surface.
But he didn't cry, didn't come close to doing so, for he'd found his answer. He'd asked them the most important question, and had been answered.
He no longer pretended, no longer tried to manipulate his dreams into showing them, no longer strained his memory for some tiny echo of them.
Because they loved him, and although it wasn't enough, it was all he had and he could live with it.
He never sought the mirror again; he didn't need to look at it twice.