I'm not quite sure where this came from - just a little idea that popped into my head and wouldn't go away. Except Teddy did get a bit harsher than intended there with dear old Andromeda.
The italics are flashbacks written in past tense. Regular font gives events that occur in the present.
Mmmm PM me if you find any glaring errors, k?
Losing one's parents was not the sort of thing that could be forgotten about overnight. Normal people could not merely erase memories at the snap of a finger, regardless of their magical nature. Normal people could not let things go so easily. And yet, normal people did not regularly converse with the dead, either.
Teddy Lupin was not normal.
It wasn't that he could erase memories at will – no, no one was capable of that.
Rather, he could change his appearance with a small bit of concentration, he could move blocks sometimes without even touching them, and both of his parents were dead – had been for two years. And he had no idea how it had happened.
Oh, he had asked – several times, in fact. But it seemed that his dear old grandmother Andromeda preferred to stay tight-lipped about the whole turn of events that had surrounded both his birth and his parents' deaths.
He didn't even know their names.
But then again, that was understandable because he was a three-year-old boy with a shock of impossibly turquoise hair.
It was about that age that he began see him.
He wasn't threatening, or creepy, or weird in the slightest. In fact, he was perfectly normal but for the fact that his figure sometimes seemed to blur when he moved too quickly.
But then again, Teddy was three years old, and not much is unusual at such young an age.
He hadn't even noticed him at first. He had been playing with his blocks, stacking them according to color and number and letter. He had been moving them in front of him on the living room floor, sometimes with his hands – which was normal – and sometimes without touching them at all – which was not normal in the slightest.
He had been alone in the room, and yet when he had looked up, he had been there.
Relaxed. He had merely been watching, smiling, entirely friendly. He had had light brown hair – mousy hair – that had been swept back casually, although a few strands had fallen across his face and into his eyes. And his eyes. They had been green and inviting, warm and gentle, and Teddy had known he was safe.
He didn't know the man. He didn't know where he had come from (although he figured Grandma Andromeda had let him in).He had never seen him in his life. And yet he had never seen a man with kinder eyes. And so merely by glancing at him, Teddy had known the mysterious man would not hurt him. He had known that he could be trusted.
The man had been studying Teddy the whole time Teddy had been studying him. And so when Teddy had looked back without a hint of recognition in his eyes, the man's face had fallen.
"You don't recognize me, Teddy?" His voice was soft, sad.
Teddy had shaken his head, picking up a battered green block and holding it out to him. The man had moved off of the couch and onto the floor, reaching out to the pile of blocks before pulling his arm back.
Teddy could not have known that the man's hand would have passed right through.
The second time the man had been there, he had been more open.
He laughed when Teddy changed his features to look deliberately ridiculous, his entire face brightening with delight. And yet a deep sadness had pervaded the man's countenance when Teddy had screwed up his face and set his features to mask his. Teddy had panicked, reversing the action, but the sadness had remained. Tears sparkled in the man's eyes, and Teddy had reached out his chubby hands with the intention to wipe them away as they fell.
The man had stood abruptly, dancing out of the boy's reach.
"I need to go, Teddy." His voice had sounded choked. "I'll be back."
"Will you be my fwiend?"
The man had swallowed hard before replying. "Yes, Teddy, I will be your friend." He had knelt back down, tears still continuing to trickle unchecked down his scarred cheeks. "And since friends call each other by their names, my name is Remus." He had graced the boy with a small smile.
The small nod of assent was all the man had given before strolling from the room.
Teddy could not have known the significance behind the name.
He had visited dozens of times over the next five years. So often that Teddy could not count the visits, but then again, he had never started counting in the first place.
Teddy had long ago learned that he was the only one who could see Remus. He had mentioned him to his grandmother – just once – and she had gone mental, muttering about devils and demons and the like. He had never gotten the chance to mention the name.
But then, of course, there is always the one event that is the beginning. The beginning of everything snapping into perfect clarity.
He hadn't meant to glance at the picture. In fact, he doubted that he ever had before. But walking to the dining room, he had let his gaze wander to the left, to the row of pictures hung up on the wall just past the doorway. How many times had he looked at these? How many times had he just passed them by?
Because one – just one – had held someone of surprising importance. Remus.
Teddy had no idea how he was related to the man, or why he could see him while Grandma Andromeda could not, or why he often did look as if he was blurred and not entirely there. And yet he was in a picture on the walls of the home. And Andromeda did not often like to keep pictures.
He had not dared ask his grandmother. She had already lost her mind when he mentioned that he could see someone, and Teddy hadn't even referred to Remus by name. If he had hinted to the fact that he was seeing someone she knew – likely a close relative, by the sheer fact that they were on the wall at all – she would resolve to find out why exactly what was going on.
And although this entire situation had gotten rather suspicious in and of itself, eight-year-old Teddy Lupin had not wanted to lose the only real friend he had ever had.
"You know Grandma Andromeda." Teddy hadn't meant for his voice to come out harsh, but it had. "Why can't she see you? Why is it only me?"
Fear had gathered in Remus's green eyes. Fear and an impossible sadness.
"You're on the wall. Grandma Andromeda doesn't put many people on the wall. Why are you there? How do you know me?" He hadn't been able to stop him questions, or the one that had tumbled from his lips when Remus jumped to his feet smoothly, his image blurring around the edges. "Where are you going?"
Remus had turned back for a moment – only for a moment.
"I can't come back, Teddy." He had begun to pace quickly. "I knew it was only a matter of time until you saw something – until you figured it out." He had paused, turning back toward Teddy and dropping to his knees on the carpeted floor. "I was always here, Teddy, and I always will be – even if you can't see me. Don't forget me, child. I won't forget you."
Teddy had cried. At eight years old, there wasn't much else he knew how to do.
Sixteen-year-old Teddy Lupin dragged his trunk through the front door of the little house, letting it drop with a soft thud in the living room. The lights were on in the kitchen, and he ventured in, finding his grandmother drinking tea at the table.
"How's Victoire?" Amusement colored her tone.
"Fine. We're – we've – we've been getting along quite well recently," Teddy stammered, turning red.
Andromeda snorted into her tea cup, turning to look at him. "I figured," she murmured. "How's school so far?"
"Fine, fine," he muttered absently, staring off toward the small teapot perched on the stovetop. He suddenly snapped to attention, standing abruptly and marching off into the living room, where he threw open his trunk and began ruffling through the top half of the items hastily thrown inside. When he finally returned to the kitchen, Andromeda was watching him carefully. He set down a heavy, leather-bound book; it was unlabeled.
"Ted," he corrected automatically, growing sick of the childish nickname. He flipped through the thick pages of the book, before letting it fall open. He spun it around and slid it across the table so Andromeda could see it. She peered at the photograph held within the pages with interest. "You never told me." Silence prevailed at the table as Andromeda continued to study the picture. Teddy slapped his hand down on the wooden table in frustration; his hand slapped the tabletop roughly, snapping his grandmother out of her trance-like state. "All these years, and you never told me."
Andromeda looked nervous and yet entirely confused. "What are you on about, Teddy? Ted."
"How my parents died. All these years, and you never told me. I don't even know what they looked like!" Teddy's voice was rising, his hair now tinged with red in his anger. "The least you could have done was tell me about them. But no, instead I've been reduced to looking through old yearbooks." He pulled three books from his school bag and flipped open the first one.
"What are you –?"
"My mother – Nyphadora Tonks. She began attending Hogwarts in 1984 and was sorted into Hufflepuff. Normally, I would mind that but I really don't because it's the only thing I've ever known about her. She went on to become an Auror, and joined a defense group called the Order of the Phoenix during the War." Andromeda went to interrupt, but Teddy continued before she could, flipping open the second book.
"My father began attending Hogwarts in 1971 at the age of eleven. He was a Gryffindor. He was a Prefect during his last few years and graduated in 1978 to pursue a career as an Auror. He had three good friends: James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew. He joined the same defense group as soon as he turned seventeen. He returned to Hogwarts in 1993 to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts for one year. He had a medical problem, but I can't seem to find –"
"He was a werewolf." It was the first word Andromeda had spoken since the beginning of his rant. At her statement, however, Teddy froze, looking as if he had swallowed something very sour.
"A werewolf," Teddy repeated slowly. "My father – was a werewolf." He shook his head to clear it. "Nevertheless…"
There was a long silence between the two as Teddy sought to understand the new information.
"Do you believe in ghosts, Grandmother?"
Andromeda nodded, taking a long sip of her tea. "You know I do, Teddy."
"Do you believe in ghosts that only a single person can see?" His voice was uncertain.
"If this is about your imaginary friend…" she began, looking across the table at him.
Teddy slammed his fist down on the table again. "See, but that's just the thing, Grandmother. He wasn't quite imaginary. Do you remember that afternoon all those years ago? The afternoon I told you about him?" She took another sip of tea. "You never did give me a chance to tell you his name." At her prompting, he revealed, "It was Remus."
She immediately choked, setting down the teacup harshly and coughing indelicately for several moments before composing herself.
"Oh yes. See, he never told me who he was, only his name. He seemed disappointed and sad that I didn't recognize him at first. It took five years, but I found this." Teddy stalked over to the row of pictures hung on the wall, pointing to the one that contained his father. "I told him I recognized him. I asked him how he knew you. And he disappeared. I haven't seen him for eight years."
"That's not possible."
"I thought so too, but the universe has a funny way of giving us what we least expect sometimes. I thought my father was gone forever. And yet he was there the whole time. Not in the way I expected – not at all – but rather, in the way I needed him. He took on a different role than he was originally intended to play in my life, and – and – I didn't even know my father's name. I knew nothing about him."
He slumped into a chair at the table, letting him head rest in his pale hands.
"I could have had a father. He was my best friend, and he didn't even have to be alive to be the most important person in my life."
Teddy hadn't seen the man in eight years, and yet somehow he knew that he would come. Sure enough, when he looked up, his old friend – his father – was lounging across his bed.
"Teddy. You know." There was no question in the man's voice.
"All these years, and you never told me. All those days spent with you… I grew up without a father. You could have been that for me." Not accusatory – melancholy.
"I couldn't. I lost the opportunity to be your father when I – when I died. I don't know how I came back, but I did. The first time I saw you, you were crying. I didn't step in – I didn't know how – but I learned later on."
"You were my best friend." Teddy's voice was soft.
"And while I longed to be more, it was enough. I should have had nothing. And yet somehow, I got this. Merlin knows I didn't deserve it."
Teddy moved forward to hug the man, but passed through him. He expected the icy coldness of a ghost, but instead was met with a soft tingling, much like when his foot began to fall asleep in Professor Binns' class.
"That was – you're not –"
"I'm not a ghost," Remus cut in. "I don't quite know what I am, actually, but I've always been here. Always."
Tears were glinting in Teddy's eyes, running down his cheeks. Remus moved to wipe them away but fell back when his hand passed through the teenager's face.
"Thank you," Teddy whispered quietly, running a pale hand through his turquoise hair before quickly changing his features to mimic his father's – just as he had done years ago. Instead of sadness, Teddy noticed a small smirk cross the man's face. He played with his new mousy brown hair idly. "Will you stay?"
"Normal people don't enjoy having their father as an imaginary friend." Remus's voice was barely audible.
"Well, I guess it's good that I've never been normal."
And as Teddy fell into bed beside his father, who lay stoically beside him, barely breathing, he figured being abnormal wasn't so bad after all.
Because when it really came to it, normal people were far too boring and drab. And entirely, overwhelmingly hopeless.
Well? What did you think?