A/N: Hello. So I've been playing with this idea for a while now and I finally decided to test it on the public eye. I'd really appreciate feedback. Also, if you read 'The Discovery' this story is not part of that 'world' I suppose you'd call it, where Teddy and a bunch of the Weasley/Potter cousins read the HP books. Most of my stories are set in that 'world', but this one is not, only because if Teddy knew all this it would ruin those stories. It's just a sort of different way for him to find out about the past.
I hope you like it and I don't own a single thing.
Teddy stretched out on the old camp bed Hermione had made up for him in a corner of the attic. His potions book lay open in front of him, a guise in case any of the munchkins came looking for him. He could hear the five of them running around down stairs, squealing and shouting as they played whatever game they'd cooked up for that afternoon. Teddy had spent yesterday cramming himself into tiny, dusty places and dashing wildly around the back garden after them, having been roped into joining their games of hide-and-seek and tag. Hoping to get at least one day of his last summer holidays ever to himself, he had therefore retreated to the attic to hide behind his homework.
Every summer since he'd started at Hogwarts, Teddy had spent at least three weeks at Harry and Ginny's. As it happened this year – the last year the tradition would be upheld ('Oh, Teddy, you're welcome to stay whenever you like! In fact, you're required to come and visit. This will hardly be the last time you stay with us') – Harry got called to somewhere in Scotland on Auror business, and Ginny took off to cover the tryout week for the Harpies. Which left Teddy, James, Lily, and Albus at Ron and Hermione's.
It wasn't that he minded getting shipped off. He loved staying with Ron and Hermione, but it meant that Hugo and Rose joined their partners in crime, and the five of them together were somehow twice as crazy as just James, Albus, and Lily, and twice as insistent that Teddy play with them. Normally he didn't mind lending himself to their imaginations, but there was only so much 'dragon hunter' a normal seventeen-year-old could take.
Bored with his homework and unwilling to venture downstairs lest he end up as part of the little kids' circus, Teddy rolled off the camp bed and crawled over to the little window set low in the sharply sloping ceiling. But his foot caught on the leg of a stool and a second later, with an almighty thudding and plume of dust, several old boxes and bags tumbled to the floor.
Eyes watering and nose streaming from the dust, Teddy somehow managed to flip himself around in the clutter without knocking anything over, and sit up so he could hastily put things back in order before Hermione came bursting in to make sure the roof wasn't collapsing or something.
He stuffed Rose's baby clothes back into their bag, piled a bunch of Hermione's old text books into a box, and was just heaving a great hamper stuffed with old Weasley sweaters back onto the stool when a thick packet of parchment that had gotten wedged behind a crate caught his eye. It seemed to have fallen out of an old and beat-up rucksack that had been overturned in the avalanche.
Balancing precariously on the edge of the stool, Teddy reached over to fish it out. It was a wad of envelopes bound together by an old shoelace. He looked it over with absent-minded curiosity as he groped for the rucksack it had come out of. There were two words scrawled onto a scrap of parchment tucked at the top of the stack. Teddy recognized Harry's cramped writing: In case.
Teddy stopped grabbing for the rucksack. He stared down at the words, worrying his lower lip between his teeth. It wasn't any of his business. He really should just cram the envelopes back into their bag and forget about them. It would be an invasion of both Ron and Hermione's and his godfather's privacy to pry.
But something about those words, in case, made him shiver. In case of what?
Knowing he really shouldn't but unable to resist, Teddy pulled the shoelace off and let the stack of envelopes fan out over his knees. There were at least a dozen of them, and on each one Harry had written a name. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley….
But the one that caught Teddy's eye was one labeled Remus. This must be a very old 'in case'.
Reasoning that as the intended recipient would never open this letter, it was rightfully Teddy's anyway, he pulled it out from the middle of the stack. He hesitated for only a second before ripping it open and pulling out the folded letter inside.
October (I think), 1997
Teddy blinked at the date. He thought it was October? But then the year struck him. This had been in the last months of the war, just as things were reaching an all-time bad, according to the history books. Licking his lips, Teddy started on the rest of the letter, not tearing his eyes away from Harry's scrunched writing until he had reached the end.
So, if you're reading this, chances are things didn't go so well for me. If Hermione knew I was writing this she would tell me to stop because it's morbid, but, well, to be honest there's a damn good chance I'll be needing it. Things aren't exactly going fantastic at the moment.
Look, I don't know if I ever got the chance to set this straight, but I don't want your last memory of me to be… well, you know, in the basement of Grimauld place. I'm sorry I called you a coward. I won't take back the things I said. I'm still right, you know, about Tonks and the baby. You ought to be with them, and if you're not, well, then I guess I'm still right about the coward thing, too. But I'm sorry I said it. And I kind of deserved to get slammed into a wall for it.
I think I can understand – sort of – why you left, though. I still don't think it's right, but I think I can understand. I've been thinking about the whole thing a lot lately, actually. You didn't want to pass your burdens onto your family, endanger them anymore. Believe it or not, I can relate. But it's too late for that, now. For both of us, I guess. The best you can do now is be there to share the struggle. I really hope you're there now. You're not a coward, Remus. I know you can't run from this.
There's a couple of things I want to say, you know, just in case I never got to tell you.
First, you really were the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher I ever had. I know there isn't a lot of competition among the Death Eaters, evil ministry hags, and narcissistic gits who accidentally wiped their own memories, but you were a brilliant teacher. And hey, maybe you should give it another try. Hopefully Voldemort's gone by now and the curse is broken. I'm not the only one that thought you were a great professor.
Second, thanks for being around. I mean, you didn't exactly have to be, but you were when you could be. That, well, that means a lot to me. And even though it was more to get away, the fact that you wanted to help me with this, you know, what I'm doing… well, it means a lot to me, too. Believe me, this isn't something any sane person would volunteer for unless they really, really gave a damn.
Third, you're going to make a great father. Your kid'll think the world of you, I know it. I hope I got to meet him/her, but if I didn't, make sure you tell them I tried really hard.
I don't know who all will make it out of this or how long it will take or what the world will be like when it's over, but I hope it's better. You deserve a happy ending.
All the best,
Teddy stared down at the yellowed parchment before him, his vision strangely blurry. A whirl of emotions was ricocheting around in him. He wasn't sure which was twisting his gut harder, the fact that Harry was talking about a future his father would never see, or the fact that Harry was talking as if he wouldn't be there to see it. And what did he mean about his father not being with him and his mother? What had happened in the basement of Grimauld place? It had been a long time since something had dealt such a blow to the foundation of his world, but this had shaken it.
He was half-way to his feet, intending to stagger downstairs and confront Hermione about this when the rest of the letters cascaded off his lap to the floor. He stared down at them, picking out familiar names, guessing what they all were now. Maybe there were more explanations in there? Maybe Teddy just wanted to know more about the war, and the moment he told Hermione what he'd found, he doubted he would get to read another word. Maybe he was a little emotionally unbalanced after reading that letter meant for his father.
Whatever was motivating him, Teddy sat back down with a bump and grabbed the first envelope, the one addressed to Ron.
December 28, 1997
I think you know what these are for. You know, just in case… something happens to me. Since I very nearly got me and Hermione killed only three days ago, and then yesterday if you hadn't come along I'd still be at the bottom of that frozen pool, you can see where I'm coming from. So if worse comes to worse for me, and you fair better, think you can make sure these get to the right people? I slipped these into your bag because I don't think Hermione likes me writing things like this. I don't reckon it puts you in a bright mood either, but I know when you find these, you'll keep them safe for me.
I'm glad your back, mate. And not just so I can stow my posthumous letters from the grave with you. I love Hermione (like my sister), but it was a hell of a lot more difficult just getting by when you were gone. I forgive you for that, just so we're clear. I mean, after you saved my neck and got rid of the locket, I thought it was pretty clear, but if I know you, a part of you will still be beating yourself up over it for a while.
I'm sorry I got you sucked into this. You've gone through hell for me, and there's no way I could possibly repay you. I don't know how this will all work out, or who will be left standing, but I'm going to give it my best to make sure it's you two. I reckon the best thing that ever happened to me was you sitting in my compartment that day on the train.
Not many people would put up with me like you've done. Letting me crash in your room every summer. Sticking up for me when everybody thought I was mad and dangerous and out for attention, or when it meant having a big target painted on your forehead. Dealing with me when it must have looked like I was cracking up, seeing into You-Know-Who's head and all. Getting dragged into my saving-people-thing. Putting up with standing next to the famous guy. Even sharing your family with one more person.
And you never treated me like anything but a normal person. I never had to wonder if I could trust you or what you said to me, but more than that…. You were one of the first people to treat me like a normal person ever. I can't tell you how much I appreciated that.
I've asked more from you and Hermione than anyone ever has a right to ask, and I'm sorry and incredibly grateful at the same time.
Maybe you don't realize it all the time, Ron, but you're one hell of a guy. And just so you know, Hermione thinks so too, so you two should just snog it out already. Honestly, I don't know how much more of this I can stand.
So even if I'm not around to see it, you're going to have a great life. You deserve that much. If you see the end of this – and I'm going to make damn sure you do – you should make the most of it.
If Hermione's like my sister, you're like my brother. I just wanted to make sure I got the chance to tell you that. Blimey, it's much less awkward writing this down. Maybe all emotional problems should be dealt with this way.
So, thanks for everything, mate. Really.
Teddy felt almost like he was sitting upon the deck of a rolling ship. There was so much… intensity behind Harry's words, almost a desperation that was foreign to him. And the details were maddening.
Where had Ron been? Why were so many people not where they ought to be? Where Teddy had always known and believed them to have been? How close had Harry and Hermione – and Ron, too – come to death and how many times? It was one thing to know that the last year of the war was the bloodiest, but an entirely different thing to contemplate daily life in that climate.
This was a more in-detailed glimpse of the past than Teddy had ever been afforded before and while part of him yearned to know more, part of him was screaming that he didn't want to know this much.
The letters were like shattered pieces of glass, cross-sections of a story he did not understand. But he had to, had to keep fitting them together now that he had started.
But the next envelope sent a shiver jolting up his spine, almost preventing him from going any further.
Will. It was scrawled like any other name on the back of the envelope, but it rang out quite plainly the intent of this stack of letters, the actuality of their necessity.
Because he couldn't stop now, Teddy ripped it open and unfolded the parchment, fingers trembling slightly.
This is the last will and testament of Harry James Potter. Or maybe it's not. I don't know much about legality and the likes, so this might not even be valid. I'm sure Hermione could tell me, but I don't think she'd let me finish this if she knew what it was, so I'll just have to hope that you all will find a way to respect my wishes regardless. Well, here it goes… I don't actually have that much to will.
First off, all the money in my vault should be split up. I want a lot of it to go to rebuilding and stuff for when the war is over, but at least half of it should be split up between Ron Weasley, his immediate family, Hermione Granger, Remus and Nymphadora Lupin, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood. And when I say all of Ron's immediate family, I mean Charlie, and even Percy, too. You can all decide how to split it up amongst yourselves, but Remus better take enough to spoil his kid, and Ron and Hermione aren't allowed any unless some of it goes to their wedding.
Number twelve Grimauld Place is left to Andromeda Tonks as it is rightfully her family's anyway, but all of Sirius's personal possessions are for Remus to decide what to do with.
That just leaves some personal thing.
The Moke-skin purse and everything in it should be entrusted to Ron and Hermione. I'm not even sure if you'll be able to get it open, but I trust you two with the things in there. They might look pretty useless, but I think they'll mean more to you.
The watch I got for my seventeenth birthday should be returned to Molly Weasley. I was honored to have received it at all.
The Marauders' Map should be returned to Fred and George Weasley to be coveted by a new generation of law-breakers. Thanks for letting me borrow it.
I leave my invisibility cloak to Ron and Hermione, too, since they deserve it after all the time we spent sneaking around under it together.
The photo album of my parents should go to Remus, since I think most of those pictures were his to start with. They were worth more than gold to me.
And finally, Kreacher the house-elf is to be set free if he so wishes, or else to serve at Hogwarts.
And I think that's everything.
It ended without ceremony or flourish. Teddy stuffed the piece of parchment back into its envelope and flung it aside, breathing rather sharply. He knew Harry had a will now, knew that most adults did, but that had been something different. It had not had an air of 'just in case'.
Almost blindly, Teddy reached for the next letter. He had begun this, and now must finish it, was required to finish it.
December 27, 1997
So here goes my second try. You ripped up the first one, remember that? Read it over my shoulder and nearly went through the roof. Don't worry, I know most of that was probably pent-up from the other he-who-must-not-be-named. It's kind of a good thing you ripped that up, though, you know, now that he's back. Anyway, you're asleep at the moment, so I think I'm safe this time. Just to be sure, though, I'm hiding under the kitchen table.
That's how important it is that I get the chance to say this. I know you think it's like me giving in or something, but it's not. With everything the way it is… I just want control over my last words. That's it. I don't want things going unsaid.
Like the fact that I owe you my life a hundred times over. Honestly, Ron and I would have gotten ourselves killed in first year. Or worse, expelled! You've stuck with me through everything, and all I did was stop a troll from bashing your head in. And then Ron had to stop it from smashing me like a fly.
Speaking of Ron, you should forgive him. Hopefully you already have, but if sixth year was any kind of indication about you two and grudges, he really is sorry. You can't possibly regret it more than he does.
I don't think I've ever told you this either, but you sort of turned into the sister I never had. I don't know, but I like to think that's what I turned into for you, too. Brother, I mean. It's lonely being the only child, isn't it? I was always insanely jealous of Ron and all his siblings. And even though the Weasleys took us in, we were always on the outside. We don't have red hair, do we? You made me feel less lonely, though, being stuck on the outside with me. I think it was all in our heads, though. I think if we stopped feeling like outsiders, we wouldn't be.
That's what I think I'm trying to get at. You're not alone. No matter what happens, you're not alone, okay? I'm not around anymore, and I don't know who all is, but you shouldn't ever feel alone. The ones we love never truly leave us.
You're brilliant, Hermione. And I'm not just talking about how smart you are. I owe you everything, you and Ron. Who else would be here with me now? Everything's going to be okay. You know how I know? Because every time I was convinced it wouldn't be, you were there to make me see otherwise. And you were always right. So let me tell you this time. Everything's going to be alright. You're going to have a good life.
All the best,
Teddy set the letter aside and leaned his head back against the boxes behind him, closing his eyes. He could picture it. He could picture them at seventeen – his age – in the middle of this. Nothing else, not hearing old stories or reading history books or looking at old pictures, had drawn such a vivid image for him, though.
Letting out his breath, he grabbed the next letter. The name on it made his stomach plunge, but he was too far in to stop now.
Sometime in winter, 1997-ish
Of all the letters I've written lately, this one's the hardest. I crumpled about six different tries up, actually. Lucky number seven, though, right?
I wish – I wish a lot of things that are pointless. I wish I'd noticed you sooner. I wish I could talk to you now. I wish I wasn't here. But I didn't, and I can't, and I have to be.
I'm sorry I didn't leave you anything specific in my will. If the Ministry got hold of it, I didn't want to single you out unnecessarily, plus there wasn't much of my stuff I figured you'd like to have. What I want to give you, I don't have yet.
And I'm sorry for leaving. I'm sorry for not telling you why. I'm sorry I can't tell you why here. But most of all, I'm sorry I didn't come back. If you're angry at me, I don't blame you.
I miss you. I never thought I'd have someone like you; someone…. It makes this so much harder.
But enough about me. You're still alive and that's what's important. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. Dumbledore said that, so you know it must be true. We always knew it would end like this, didn't we? We didn't expect to end up married or anything, right?
I knew. I shouldn't have started this at all because I knew it would end like this. It felt too good to be true, and that's because I knew it was. I'm sorry. Not for last spring. No matter how hard I try, I can't be sorry for last spring. But I'm sorry for this. For how it ended.
But endings always lead to beginnings, right? You're going to have a great life, Ginny. You're going to get married and have children and live to see them grow old. Enjoy it. Enjoy every second of it for me.
I don't really know what else to say. I wish I could say everything, but there just isn't enough time. There's never enough time.
I loved you. I always will. Remember that. If you remember anything, remember that:
I love you.
The last lines were shaky and spaced as if they had taken a lot of consideration. Teddy wondered, with a pang, if this was the first time Harry had materialized those words. He stared at them for a long while.
Harry had never expected to live. It was not just the climate, not just the terror of war. He had never expected to survive this. How long in the making had these letters been? How long had he anticipated saying goodbye?
Every word laid down carried intensity that rippled up from the yellowing parchment like long-dormant energy. Even after nearly eighteen years he could feel it. And he could imagine Ginny reading this, imagine the look on her face as these words rolled over her and it twisted something hard inside of him, made it far, far too real.
With a sharp breath, Teddy slid Ginny's letter aside and reached for the next.
A/N: What did you think? This isn't done, of course. I'm not sure how long it will be, but I'm thinking another two chapters of letters and then one of more reaction. It's hard to get Teddy's thoughts into this when he's moving so quickly from one letter to the next without interrupting the flow of the letter. It's almost like telling two stories at once. If you've got any thoughts on how I could/should deal with Teddy's thoughts, I'd love to hear them! Please let me know what you thought of this!