notes: I don't really know what this is, to be honest, only that it wouldn't leave me alone until I'd written it. It is not happy, and for that I apologize. I know that this doesn't exactly line up with the All was well ending of the series, but just because scars stop hurting doesn't mean they go away.
The Last Casualty
The first time Teddy consciously changes his appearance, he's four years old. There are photographs of his mother at various ages all around the house, but Teddy is drawn to a particular one, and after over an hour of careful concentration one afternoon, he manages to nearly replicate his favourite aspects.
When he skips into the kitchen with electric blue pigtails, several cooking utensils clatter to the counter (and some the floor) as Andromeda drops her wand in shock.
"Your hair is very bright today," she says after a moment. "I almost didn't recognise you."
"I'm Mum," Teddy informs her, since he's not sure she made the connection.
"Yes you are," she agrees.
Harry drops by half-an-hour later, and takes Teddy to stay with him and Ginny for a week. By the time Teddy returns home, he's ginger-haired, and Andromeda laughs and hugs him and doesn't mention the blue pigtails.
Teddy's appearance cycles after that. For a few weeks he'll look like his mum, then he'll morph to his dad. Then he'll adopt the famous Weasley flaming red hair and sprinkle his nose with freckles. Then he'll spend the day with Victoire and go blond for a day or two. Then Harry will take him somewhere with James, and Teddy's hair will go dark and messy while his eyes change to green. When Teddy is nine, Harry shows him some pictures of their dads at school, and for three weeks afterward, Teddy looks like Sirius.
Neither Harry nor Andromeda ever ask or reprimand him about the changes until the day he leaves for Hogwarts. He's standing on the platform with Andromeda, looking just like his father at that age, because he's learned by now which appearances upset the adults in his life the least (he hasn't looked like his mum since he was five). Harry gets off the train, where he's been loading Teddy's trunk, and pulls Teddy aside.
"Teddy," he says gently, "I want you to remember that no matter what anyone tells you, you never need to try to be like your dad or your mum or Sirius or any of the rest of us."
"Because we're not at war anymore," says Teddy. After all, you can't save the world if the world doesn't need saving.
"No," says Harry, frowning. "Because you aren't us and that's good. You are extraordinary all on your own. There's no shame in being yourself."
"I know," says Teddy, because he always has, but that isn't enough sometimes. "Only, I get to choose who I am, you know?"
"Everyone does, of course," he says. "But you do have an advantage over most people. All right, then, be whoever you like, and know that his godfather couldn't be prouder."
It's a lie, but a pretty one, and Teddy carries it with him.
Harry's told him that when he first came to Hogwarts, he was famous for doing something he couldn't remember.
Teddy thinks that's probably better than being famous for doing nothing at all.
The night before Victoire first goes off to Hogwarts, they're having family dinner at The Burrow to celebrate, and Teddy pulls her aside and warns her.
"They'll stare at you at first," he tells her. "Some of the braver ones will even ask you things. But you just need to get through the first couple weeks. They'll get bored. It's all right after that."
"I know," says Victoire quietly. "I mean, I'm expecting it."
Nobody remembered Victoire's eighth birthday. It was the tenth anniversary of Voldemort's defeat, and there'd been a ceremony and speeches and silence and stories, and nobody remembered Victoire.
Nobody except Teddy, who'd slipped her a small parcel as the grown-ups gathered around Fred Weasley's pristine white tombstone. Victoire had smiled for the first time that day and whispered, "Thank you," and sometimes Teddy remembers her face and thinks he maybe understands why George never talks about the war.
"I'm glad you'll be there with me," Victoire tells him, kissing his cheek, and Teddy murmurs, "Me too," and doesn't think to blush.
When they get to Hogwarts and everyone stares at Victoire, Teddy lets them because he has to. Victoire is better than he is at shutting down the nosy questions anyway, and she does it so graciously most people don't even realise she hasn't given them an answer.
Slowly, the other children in the Weasley clan arrive: outspoken Dominique and bossy Molly, fiery Lucy and easygoing Louis, audacious Fred and outrageous James. They don't mind the staring. Some – like Fred, James, and Lucy – even revel in it. James in particular enjoys dramatically recounting his father's exploits to his breathless classmates. To James and the others, the war is nothing more than an adventure story. Teddy doesn't stop them from enjoying that.
Instead, he retreats into a corner of the common room to do homework with Victoire, or else they escape to the grounds, visit Neville, and swap stories about their classmates' hijinks.
They cling to each other, the last shards of a shattered world they can't remember.
On the fifteenth anniversary of Voldemort's defeat, there's a ceremony at Hogwarts. The Weasleys all take the train up and stay in the village, except Victoire who's finishing her second year. (Andromeda doesn't attend because she never does, and Teddy's old enough to understand that she had family on both sides.)
George is quiet and snappish, the younger children subdued because they know they're supposed to be. Ginny smiles kindly at Teddy when he takes his place at the end of their row. Percy cries silently through the whole thing. Nobody remembers Victoire.
McGonagall gives a speech, and then Kingsley, and then Harry. They all say things about standing together and overcoming evil and hate. Harry, as usual, refuses to take credit, insists on sharing the glory with every person who stood against Voldemort in the war.
"Without their support and courage, Voldemort would never have been defeated," Harry tells them. "Without them, we couldn't have won."
But you didn't win, Teddy wants to say, cruelly, irrationally. You saved the world but you didn't save all the people in it. You didn't save my parents. You didn't save me.
Teddy's never missed his parents. Andromeda is easily worth four parents all on her own, and even if she weren't, Harry and the rest of the Weasleys are so involved in his life that he's never felt like he's missing out on anything.
But being different, being singled out, that he knows well: Knows it and hates it and knows he wouldn't be if his parents had lived.
Nobody really wins in a war, do they? Victoire told him once. One side just loses more than the other.
Yes, but which side? Teddy had asked, because most of the time he thinks it's the victors.
On the train home at the end of his seventh year, Victoire turns to him and says, "I'm going to miss you," and Teddy kisses her for the first time and thinks, I am the most selfish bastard.
He doesn't write to her when she goes back to Hogwarts, but she doesn't write him either, and that eases the guilt.
He becomes a Healer. It's not easy: he's never been great at Potions, and his bedside manner is more or less rubbish. But he likes helping people, and it's better than politics.
It's a relief to Andromeda, though she'd never tell him that. If Teddy had wanted to be an Auror, she would have let him, would have helped him study and drilled him until he was the best Auror of his generation, but it's not what she wants for him, just like it's not what she ever wanted for her daughter. Teddy's glad he can give her that, can be that one person she cares about who isn't placing themselves in the line of fire.
"Your parents would be proud of you," she says when he gets his certification, and it's the first time Teddy can ever remember her telling him that.
"Are you?" he asks.
"Don't be a fool," she says brusquely, but her lips quirk slightly. "I've never seen you do a bit of healing. For all I know, you can't cure a simple cough. It takes more than a bit of paper to impress me."
There's a ceremony at Hogwarts to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Voldemort's defeat because of course there is. As usual, nobody remembers Victoire, and Teddy is absurdly grateful that she came of age the year before when there wasn't a ceremony to overshadow her.
They're going to marry each other. He hasn't asked her yet, but both of them have given up pretending they won't. Harry's always saying there's no such thing as destiny, which Teddy thinks is absurd, because Harry of all people is living proof that some things are inevitable.
After the ceremony, Harry and Teddy visit Teddy's parents' graves, just like they do every time Harry comes to Hogwarts. Teddy suspects – though he'd never admit it – that it means far more to Harry than it does to him.
Like everyone who fell during the final battle, Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks are buried in the memorial graveyard on an edge of the grounds. It's small, though when Teddy had once remarked on this, Harry had answered that it was larger than anyone would have liked.
They stand in silence for a moment, staring at the pristine white headstones, and Teddy realises for the first time that his parents never knew Victoire, and he thinks how odd that is, because she's eighteen today, and the war is so recent and yet so long ago.
It occurs to him then, very suddenly.
"You were very young," he says quietly. "I don't know how I never realised it before."
Harry laughs, an incongruous sound in the quiet solemnity of the graveyard.
"Sorry," he says. "It's just, I never realised it either. Not for years." He shakes his head. "It's odd, growing up in the centre of a war. It seems so normal. I fought because I'd always fought, from eleven years old on. It was a natural progression, slow, I didn't notice, it was the only thing I'd ever known. And you know, you don't realise you're young until you're not anymore.
"We all went home after the war. Hermione and Ginny finished up school, and Ron and I joined the Aurors, and George somehow held the joke shop together, and we all pretended it was what we wanted because it was supposed to be what we wanted. It was what we'd been fighting for that whole time, but when it happened…."
Harry reaches up, tracing the scar on his forehead with a fingertip.
"The truth is," he continues quietly, "I became an Auror because I don't know how to be anything else. Fighting is the only thing I know, and I've never stopped."
Silence hangs between them for a few moments.
"Some things you never get over," Harry murmurs, and Teddy finally, finally gets it.
"They didn't want that for me," he whispers. "That's why they died."
"That's why they died," Harry agrees.
If they could see him now, Teddy wonders if they'd think it was worth it.
When they get back to the castle half-an-hour later, Teddy goes straight to Victoire, sitting on her own at one end of one of the far tables. She looks up as he approaches.
"Hi," she says.
"I love you," says Teddy. "It's the only truth I know."
Victoire stands and kisses him, long and hard.
"The war is over, Teddy," she whispers. "That's what this day is about. To everyone. That's what they all say."
"Not to me," Teddy murmurs. "Happy birthday, V."
Victoire's arms tighten around his neck.
"Maybe one day."