Ron and Teddy entered the house cautiously, not quite sure how to proceed.
"Harry?" Ron called, looking for his best friend.
They found him in the living room, standing in front of a window as he gazed outside, watching Vernon drive away. He stood ramrod straight with his arms folded tightly in front of him.
Ron knew that stance, and he knew that they had to proceed with caution.
"Harry," he said softly, taking a step forward.
Harry stiffened at the sound of his voice. "Not now, Ron," he said quietly.
"Oh, no you don't," said Ron fiercely. "If you think for one second that I'm just going to watch as you retreat into yourself again– Don't you dare. We're not children anymore, Harry, and this time I won't be stupid enough to let you."
Harry turned around angrily, "I said not now, Ron!"
His stance involuntarily relaxed when he saw who accompanied Ron. "Teddy?"
"Yeah," said Ron in a hard voice. "Teddy. It's not just Hermione and I anymore, Harry. You can't just close yourself off from us. From Teddy. There's a lot more people who will get hurt if you do that."
Harry looked down. "I just… I can't…"
Ron took that as his queue to approach. "I know, mate," he said sadly. He placed a hand on his best friend's shoulder in comfort. Harry looked up at him with eyes filled with uncertainty.
"I wasn't ready to face him, Ron, not yet, not today. I just..."
"You don't have to explain anything to me," said Ron softly.
Harry nodded before running his fingers nervously through his hair.
Ron stiffened and Teddy swallowed as they saw Harry's arm. It was already sporting a dark bruise in the shape of Vernon's meaty hand.
"I'll kill him," said Ron furiously. "I swear on Merlin's grave that I will kill that bastard–"
"Ron," Harry sighed in tired exasperation, "You're not going to be killing anybody."
"Cause I'll kill 'im first," Teddy mumbled under his breath, but Harry heard him.
"Teddy," Harry admonished wearily.
"I hate this," Ron said suddenly. "I hate that he can still get to you. Just thinking about it makes me..."
"We've talked about this, Ron," said Harry quietly. "Leave it where it belongs."
"Where's that, in the past?" Ron swallowed thickly. "What that man did to you–"
Harry silenced Ron with a dark glare, and the pain and suffering in that look had Teddy frowning. He'd known that none of his family liked Harry's uncle. Hell, this was the first time Teddy had met him and he already hated the man. There was something wrong with the look on Harry's face, though... like the pain that this man caused ran far deeper than Teddy had ever anticipated.
"I am not talking about this, Ron," Harry stated coldly.
"I'm not an idiot, Harry. I know what's going through your head right now," Ron countered angrily. "Everything that man has ever done to you is playing on repeat."
"Shut up, Ron!" snapped Harry, and there was real anger present in his voice now, his eyes were sparking with it.
"Stop acting like its nothing. Stop trying to brush it off and say you're fine. Just stop pretending," pleaded Ron.
Harry glared at him heavily. Teddy held his breath. He had never seen Harry so shaken, so angry before, especially not at Ron. By the look on his godfather's face, Teddy feared that there was a very real chance that he would curse Ron.
But Harry didn't make a grab for his wand. He just let out a defeated sigh and didn't so much sit down on the couch as he did fall onto it.
Ron's face immediately softened, and Teddy swallowed thickly.
"Can I see your arm?" Ron asked quietly.
Harry kept his head down but looked up at him with his eyes. Teddy could practically see the gears turning in his head, the decision he was making, to either close in upon himself or open up. Teddy had only seen Harry close up twice before. Both times had scared him senseless. His face would turn expressionless, and his replies monotone. He just shut everybody out.
And it terrified Teddy.
It terrified everybody who knew Harry to see him like that.
Then, slowly and hesitantly, Harry held his arm out to Ron.
Ron let out a relieved breath before sitting next to Harry to examine his arm.
Teddy ran his hand back through his hair, too numb to be surprised when he saw that his hand was shaking. Teddy swallowed before turning around to look out the window. Vernon Dursley's car was nowhere in sight, having long since driven away, but Teddy couldn't tear his eyes away from the spot that the car had been.
His hands were shaking. They were visibly shaking in his anger. He had never hated anyone before. He had been annoyed, definitely, disliked even, oh sure, but hated somebody? He had never thought he would meet someone that would affect him like this. Two minutes watching this man had his blood boiling. Just thinking about him had him unable to sit still.
Teddy turned back around just in time to see Harry flinch away when Ron applied a little too much pressure. Teddy pressed his mouth shut in a firm line and his hands clenched into fists, not knowing why he was reacting in such a way. He had seen Harry hurt before, loads of times in fact. Teddy had a theory that danger had a grudge and would actively seek Harry out on a daily basis. But this was different. This was inflicted by a man who had known Harry all of his godfather's life. This was a man who had lived with him for years. This was a man who was, dare he say it, family– though only in the biological sense of the word.
To know that Harry had lived with this man for years, had been in this man's care– in the loosest sense of the word– had Teddy wanting to punch something. Particularly Vernon Dursley. The scene of what happened outside was playing over and over in Teddy's head: Vernon grabbing Harry violently by the arm with a practiced hand.
A practiced hand.
A sickening sense of dread began to envelope Teddy.
Vernon had done it before.
Probably many times.
Harry never talked about staying with the Dursleys if he could help it. Hell, nobody in the family mentioned it if they could help it. And on the rare occasion that it was brought up, everyone would turn stone faced and quiet. Harry in particular would turn morose.
Teddy knew that Harry's life had been tough. He'd been told the big picture, but nobody really liked to talk about it, especially Harry. He had learned early on never to mention the war if he could avoid it. It was a real mood killer. But there were little snippets, little slips of mouth from Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and occasionally other members of the family, that brought it all in perspective for Teddy– small little unguarded moments where they say something that they never would have otherwise. Teddy always took each of these moments and locked them away in his mind, keeping inventory of every single one. If you read between the lines, you could catch a far grimmer and more terrifying picture than anything else that they said gave you.
Teddy knew that Harry's aunt and uncle had been awful to him. He knew that they sometimes starved him. He knew that they would lock him away for days. He knew that they never bought him anything of his own. He knew that they blamed him for everything.
And now he knew that they had hurt him too; or at least his uncle had.
And now the stony look that was always on everyone's face when the Dursleys were mentioned graced his own features.
Teddy watched in a silent fury as Ron took out his wand and pointed it at Harry's arm.
"Just be careful," said Harry, a hesitantly playful note in his voice. "I'd like to keep my bones, thanks."
Ron who was still trying to be stern tried to force himself to frown, but when he looked up at Harry's small smile, he snorted and shook his head. "You're not allowed to do that," said Ron.
"Do what?" Harry asked innocently.
"I'm being angry here, stop it," said Ron, but his smile didn't fade.
Teddy didn't understand joke, but he was glad that his godfather was smiling.
When Ron had healed Harry's arm– Hermione must've taught him how to do that, Teddy thought wryly– The two of them sat back on the couch cushions and stared at the ceiling.
Teddy watched them curiously, wondering if he should leave.
"So you're all right?" asked Ron, looking at the ceiling.
"Yeah, I'm fine, Ron," said Harry, and Teddy was relieved that he really did sound okay.
Ron nodded, satisfied, "Good."
Harry stood, banishing thoughts of Vernon Dursley to the deep recesses of his mind. Ron and Teddy struggled to do the same. It was Harry and Ginny's anniversary. Vernon Dursley wasn't going to ruin it.
Harry wasn't going to let him ruin anything for him ever again.
A/N: Hope you liked it as much as I enjoyed writing it! As always, thank you for reading! Leave your thoughts in a review if you like :) Until next time!