[identity profile] next-mas-mods.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] nextgen_mas
Title: An Habitation Enforced
Author/Artist: [livejournal.com profile] wemyss
Prompt Number: 19
Rating: BBFC-15 (I was tempted to hold out for 12A, but…)
Pairing/characters: Teddy (/Victoire), basically gen, usual canon pairings plus Dean/Seamus, widowers Harry/Draco, Su/Millie, Al/Scorp… the usual.
Warnings/content: Highlight to read *Family dynamics and a great lot of English poetry, really; no reason to go on about it, certainly I’m never one for long warnings….*
Medium or word count: 13685, actually.
Summary: Teddy frees himself of Christmases Past.
Notes: I am obliged to B and M for looking this over. Mistakes, quite as much as the translations, are All My Own Work, as the pavement artists say.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling. All works posted at this community were created entirely for fun without making any profit. No copyright infringement is intended.



An Habitation Enforced

________________________

I am the land of their fathers,
In me the virtue stays;
I will bring back my children,
After certain days.

… Scent of smoke in the evening,
Smell of rain in the night,
The hours, the days and the seasons
Order their souls aright;
Till I make plain the meaning
Of all my thousand years
Till I fill their hearts with knowledge,
While I fill their eyes with tears.

________________________

Prologue: Won-tolla

Father and Mother Wolf died, and Mowgli rolled a big boulder against the mouth of their cave, and cried the Death Song over them; Baloo grew very old and stiff, and even Bagheera, whose nerves were steel and whose muscles were iron, was a shade slower on the kill than he had been.

… They could hear nothing except the Waingunga rushing and gurgling in the dark, and the light evening winds among the tree-tops, till suddenly across the river a wolf called. It was no wolf of the Pack, for they were all at the Rock. The note changed to a long, despairing bay; and 'Dhole!' it said, 'Dhole! dhole! dhole!' They heard tired feet on the rocks, and a gaunt wolf, streaked with red on his flanks, his right fore-paw useless, and his jaws white with foam, flung himself into the circle and lay gasping at Mowgli's feet.

'Good hunting! Under whose Headship?' said Phao gravely.

'Good hunting! Won-tolla am I,' was the answer. He meant that he was a solitary wolf, fending for himself, his mate, and his cubs in some lonely lair, as do many wolves in the south. Won-tolla means an Outlier – one who lies out from any Pack. Then he panted, and they could see his heart-beats shake him backward and forward.


________________________

It had been a clear, bright, crisp, still day, after a misty morning that had made London an ink-and-wash Chinese painting, shan shui: perfect for all that they had in hand, his young wife and he.

And there was much in hand: already, October was drawing on towards November and Bonfire Night, and then the grave solemn music of Remembrance; and after that of course came, almost too soon, Christmas and the New Year. And if they lived in London nowadays, they were nonetheless the son and daughter, he and his wife, of country, indeed County, families. There was wild food to forage even in London, that lost Elysium of once-rural Middlesex: heath and common, greens and mushroom, herb and nut; and there was in them both a blood that sought to forage and to track and hunt. And they'd been raised, she and he, on Proper Christmases. Far and away in his formidable grandmama's country, at Wheaton Aston hard by the Shropshire Union Canal in darkest Staffs, there were geese and ducks put in hand for them for Christmas; in his godfather's – his wife's uncle's – West Country fastnesses, a side of Gloucester Old Spot had their names on it, belly, ham, loins, shoulder, and sausages, all properly cured as wanted, where wanted.

Courtesy-uncles and courtesy-aunts abounded, with cobnuts awaiting them in Kent and Norfolk Black turkeys fattening for them beneath illimitable East Anglian skies. He liked cobnuts – like Dame Julian, he saw them snug, a microcosm of all that was made – if only he could forget Hamlet's own worry…. But he'd not had that trouble in years.

________________________

Had he Morphed? Uncle Harry'd not been taller than he since he was quite small…. 'Damn it all, Uncle Harry,' he was saying, 'I simply – I've a right to know my people. My family – a Wizarding family. My blood.'

His godfather had never struck him before. He felt his lip split, and saw Harry taller than ever, menacing, eyes like a cold and gem-like flame, sea-green incorruptible. From his wounded mouth, Teddy sensed, something was seeping – not flowing, not trickling. He put a finger to it and raised that finger to his eyes. The substance was viscous, tarry, black as Tom Riddle's hairy heart, black as ravens at midnight in midwinter.

Grandm'ma, behind him, where he could not see her, cackled. 'It's your Black blood, boy!'

________________________

He woke gasping; and the grip on his arm was more that of a raptor's talons than of any human hand, and the eyes that bored into his eyes by moon and starlight, as black and liquid, pupils huge, as any bird's.

'You,' said she, 'are going to get this sorted.'

He caught his wind as his heart hammered. He might have argued: it was rare, he hardly ever had nightmares, hadn't for years, everyone has them occasionally: but there was no point in argument, even had he had more truth to tell than was his lot and portion. Arguing with Victoire was a fool's errand and a bootless one.

He knew his only possible response; and if it was but one closing consonant removed from the admission of defeat by a losing barrister – or the prisoner in the dock – well, that wasn't so far wrong, after all. 'Yes, m'love,' said Teddy Lupin.

________________________

1. The Wanderer

… þeah þe he modcearig
geond lagulade
longe sceolde
hreran mid hondum
hrimcealde sæ
wadan wræclastas.
Wyrd bið ful aræd!

Swa cwæð eardstapa,
earfeþa gemyndig,
wraþra wælsleahta,
winemæga hryre….

… Though that he, mind careworn,
Over the waters' paths
Long-wearily should
Churn the oars with his hands
Upon the rime-cold sea,
Taking the outcast ways.
What Shall Be is full-determined.

Thus spake the world-trekker,
Of hardship mindful –
Wrathy war-slaughter,
Death of kinsmen….


'Teddy.'

'Hullo, Aunt Su.'

His courtesy-aunt looked at him: Su Bones, even now fair and fluffy-haired, her complexion daily outraged by her Mungo's Healer's robes: a butterfly of gossamer – and iron; anyone foolish enough to forget that Healer Bones was hard as nails, for all her outer integument, wanted not to be let out without a keeper.

'Well?'

'Fairly, yes. I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself –'

'Lupin. Put a sock in it. You do realise my speciality is not "the mind diseased"?'

'Yes, but I thought you might recommend a specialist.'

'We shall see. Clothes off, young Lupin. I've seen it all before – for a good nine-and-twenty years, in your case. Let's eliminate any physical causes first.'

A Metamorphmagus can always conceal a blush. Teddy concentrated his thoroughly Old Ravenclaw mind upon Su's wand-motions, trying to puzzle out what precisely each did in the diagnostic tests.

'Very well. Get dressed, Teddy. There is no more wrong with you physically than there ever is – although you'd do well to put the pipe aside.' Aunt Su held, by Wizarding standards, stringently heretical and excessively severe opinions on smoking, Teddy knew: but who ever heard of a scholar without his pipe, or a Wizard suffering ills through smoking? 'I realise you have special recuperative powers – do your own lung regenerations without a potion, in effect – but even a Metamorphmagus with a Werewolf father, once married to a part-Veela and carrying on what is obviously a highly active sex life, wants to take care not to overstrain the system, my boy.'

She shot him a very stern look, and made a note. Then she put away her wand and parchment and quill.

'As a Healer, I have absolutely nothing to say to you, Teddikins. As your old Auntie Su…. You saw a Mind-Healer some years ago, I think.'

'Yes.'

'Galen Newe, wasn't it. Damned fool. Augustus has much to answer for. And your Auntie Hermione. Of course, it's ultimately Dumbledore's fault – as so many things are. Had he done something about Gellert Grindelwald timely, rather than staying his hand out of posing, Sorrows-of-Werther, Romantic-era Schwärmerei and Sensucht and all that sub-Brontëan, sub-Goethe-by-Byron balls…. Damn the old fool and his preening angst. We should all have been a deal happier had Freud and that lot stayed in Vienna – been able to stay in Vienna – or at least had they not been taken up by Wizarding medicine. Talking things out – absurd. I know, I know, I sound more like Millie by the day: perils of partnering, and she is downright, I know. Bless her.'

Teddy said nothing. Aunt Millie and Aunt Su had been precisely the sort and archetype of couple who oughtn't to have worked, but always had done, and he'd taken them as an example many times when fools had told him that he and Victoire should never work, and least of all as husband and wife. Idiots.

'And of course Newe has always been fatally drawn to Muggle methods; it's precisely what I should have expected Hermione to recommend. Honestly … dear Hermione, love her as we all do … well, least said, soonest mended, but she'd've done you less harm to have played Mrs Robinson to your Ben – you needn't look at me like that, Millie's a half-blood and there is no end to the number of films I've been forced to watch with her. No, young Lupin, you're not in want of a Mind-Healer: we don't want an interrogator to listen to us as we mutter our way through our memories, stretched upon a chaise-longue: we've magic to do that for us. Your godfather has what you want. I prescribe a Pensieve and some peace for you to look at memories from without, and you may tell the old fool I said so, if Harry asks – which he won't, not when it's his Darling Godson asking the loan of the thing.

'Now away with you, Teddy, I've real patients to treat. And – Teddy? Before you hide yourself away for a week of maundering through your memories, I suggest another sort of purge, the night before. A bottle of port and some fig toffee, and a good night's sleep once your bowels are clean through.'

And people, Teddy reflected, thought it was Aunt Millie who was downright, and ruthless with it.

________________________

When Teddy arrived at Harry's offices – it wasn't, Wizarding space being what it was, a matter of lack of room at the Ministry buildings and annexe: Kingsley and Harry had agreed from the beginning, in the first days of the Restoration, that the Aurorlty ought not only to be separated from policing, but given the independence that comes with distance – he'd already been put on edge by all the square-bashing, saluting, piping, drumming, fifing, guard-mounting, and wearing of gold braid that is the inevitable adjunct of running the Chief of the Magical General Staff to earth through the Warren, Daysbridge Barracks, Hit Wizards Parade, and, ultimately, the sanctum sanctorum of Aurorlty House. Teddy, when young and innocent – a period he at the age of nine-and-twenty looked down upon loftily – had, like most children, dreamt idly of being an Auror: in his case, as his Mum had been, and as Father had not been but might as well have been. But he'd long since made his peace with being his father's son, with his father's lupine bodily grace (so unlike Mum's) and his father's insistent want to experience life, red as it was in tooth and claw, through the safe and sterile medium of paper and letterpress.

His godfather saw him immediately, which ameliorated his mood somewhat – until Harry declined to let him at Harry's Pensieve forthwith.

'Certainly you may have it for a time, Ted. But not, I think, quite yet.'

Teddy had more powers than most with which to keep his countenance – or anyone else's he happened to be wearing that the time – but his godfather saw that in his face that made him chuckle nonetheless.

'Ah, Teddykins, you'll be seventy years in age and if I'm spared you'll yet be my godson, and all of five or six years old with it at times. For which I am heartily and unfeignedly thankful. Sit down, unbugger your hair, take a biscuit to go with your tea – it's not as if you'll gain an ounce – and let me talk to you as your indulgent godfather.

'I'm willing, and I make damned well certain anyone and everyone you like'll be quite as willing, to lend you my own memories as well, for you to peruse. I think you want to look at ours first, Teddy, before you go rooting about in your own like a pig in Périgord after truffles. If only for context.

'I'm glad you went to Su. I'm even more pleased Victoire had the sense to send you to her. Dearly as we all love Hermione, I thought that notion of hers, when you were – thirteen, wasn't it? Third year, yes – to have that ass, Newe, give you the full Freud – full Viennese pig's breakfast, more like it – was daft and doomed. No doubt he succeeded only in stuffing your head full of rubbish, and balls about the Inner Wolf and all that rot. Thick as pig-shit, that man. Never let him near my Aurors and never shall.

'Think about it, and let me know; I can have phials upon phials for you within the week, once you give the word. Now. Happier subjects. Tell me how the new book is coming along – Newgrange, isn't it? And what's this I hear about new finds there – I mean at the Brú na Bóinne complex as a whole – and their having something to do with Karn Barnenez?'

________________________

Harry had been – as he not uncommonly was, damn the man: an aggravating quality in a godfather, who was meant, after all, damn it all, to be merely jolly and open-handed and undiscerning, and indulgently free with cakes and tea and small loans – Harry'd been quite right, and Teddy knew it. For one thing, the memories of people who'd known and interacted with his parents….

Harry'd been – of course – as good as, if not better than, his word. He'd smoothed the way: but he'd left it to Teddy actually to collect the phials of memories. And Harry had thought of people Teddy shouldn't have thought of in years of careful consideration.

Teddy'd done quite enough field-work at Maeshowe and West Kennet, la Nécropole de Bougon and Knap of Howar, Knowth and La Hougue Bie and Tarxien – let alone Maikop and Mehrgaŕh itself – to know that digging turned up things you rather wish it hadn't. He'd tried to tell Lils that as well, knowing that her own decision to become an archæologimancer had had much to do with her hero-worship of Cool Cousin Teddy, He's a Much Better Big Brother Than You'll Ever Be, Jamie, So Sod Off … but she'd wanted, as people always did want, to learn that for herself. So far as he was concerned, he was content merely to be an antiquary – and he could do with a dram now, although of a single-malt by preference, and Talisker by choice – who could if pressed turn to for a bit of field-work – of a not too sweaty sort, mind. Diplomatic-epigraphic-codicological-toponymic-onomastic-prosopographical inter-disciplinary studies, that was the ticket (it was like the incantation for a fiddly Charm, that, and a useful answer for causing bores at parties to back away slowly and find easier prey): much better than bashing about with wand and hammer as Lils, with that innate perversity that was Lils all over, chose to do….

He heard a polite cough and realised that he'd been standing there wool-gathering for God knew how long whilst being, evidently, surveyed with mild and affectionate amusement by quite the sharpest pair of brown eyes ever to be owned by someone he knew well.

'Hullo, Ted. Come in.' Uncle Dean was in a painting smock that had clearly not been donned for show. 'You look surprisingly like your grandfather Tonks at times, you know.'

Teddy knew he'd not morphed: and he knew damned well that his lean and lupine form had quite a look of various Blacks and not a few Lupins, and nothing at all that called to mind his namesake grandsire, that robust, magniloquent, untidy and in-all-ways Churchillian figure.

Dean might as well have read his mind, but clearly hadn't done and hadn't been in want of doing. 'Oh yes, you do, young Lupin: never you mind Su and all the Healers at Mungo's, I'm the one constructs and deconstructs faces for a living. Never argue with a portraitist about your phiz, Metamorphmagus or no bloody Metamorphmagus. It's like all that balls idiots talk about Harry of Wales – our other princely Harry – and his getting: Christ, take any Spencer you like for generations and put his portrait next Queen Mary's, particularly when she was yet young Mary of Teck, stand HRH between 'em … and it's obvious Harry was conceived in lawful wedlock: pure Württemberg-Hanover-Teck, that nose and those eyes…. Right. I knew him, your old gaffer – as you know – and I say, there're times you're Ted Tonks' ruddy revenant.'

That Dean had known his grandfather, Teddy well knew. Of all his courtesy-aunts-and-uncles, after the Auld Heid-Mistress Her Ain Sel', Harry and Dean had known Ted and Andromeda best (better than Great-Aunt Cissy had done, certainly), for all that Harry had known Ted fleetingly and Dean only when on the run with him. Yes: Dean, second only to Harry, had come to know Grandm'ma best in the first years after the Rebellion, he having adopted her as a sort of surrogate grandmother of his own. She had asked him to stop – Harry's inspiration, that – and tell her all that he could of Ted's last days; and they'd become in some way a family, whilst Teddy was yet in nappies.

They were withindoors, now, and there was tea, and Uncle Seamus commandeering the kettle for hot-whiskey-and-water, Terrible Weather, You'll Catch Your Death, Ted-een, Darlin' Boy, But You A Dram Have Taken, and Dean stealing a kiss from a laughing Seamus as they made an intricate ballet of serving forth the tea-cakes…. And Uncle Dean and Uncle Seamus had put up good Kentish cobnuts for him, against Christmas need; and the windows – here in deepest Kent, Dering windows, for they were none so far from Pluckley of the hauntings – were open to the cold clean day after rain, and the last ghosting whisper of the smell of smoke from Bonfire Night. Across field and hedgerow, beneath the sheltering bulk of the North Downs, were chart and hanger and smock mill; the steeple stood up like an oast house's cowl over the little church, and the village sign with its portrait of an early cricketer had been garlanded anew with poppies after the winds and wet: Remembrance Sunday was but a few days away.

'Yes,' said Dean, 'I knew your grandfather better than I knew my own – or my father, come to that. Oh, Mum's side, I had them sussed, from the Empire Windrush to Tower Hamlets, just as it said on the tin.' Dean's first action after the War had been to move his mother, stepfather, and half-sisters to a Kentish farm, not too far from this of his and Seamus' own, where when not in Ireland they lived: the East End of Jamaican shops and Methodist chapels had been fading fast, even then, replaced by hard-eyed youths and Salafist imams and a worse attitude towards pub-goers than all the Chapel folk in the history of Nonconformism could muster – which was positively tolerant when set against the new attitude, Dean ruefully noted, towards batty-boys like himself. 'But Dad … that was all over the gaff. It was Harry of course helped me find the gen that led me to the unvarnished. I couldn't adam it when I got the office: a pureblood Wizard who hid us away and told Voldemort to naff off – well. It all went Pete Tong after that for him, as you'd expect, but at least he stood the aggro, kept it away from us, and didn't do a runner. Saved my life, no question. Sound familiar, Teddy? Yes, it ought to do. You could have knocked me over with Ken Dodd's tickling-stick when I found out his dad was white as you are. Cambridge man, with dons and judges and all sorts in the family, one of those Cambridge academic families that throws up the occasional colonial governor or MP or what-not, like the Butlers – old Rab's lot, you know – except only, with Dad's lot, not Squibs of long standing. When I learnt the Chestertons – that was the family, though Thomas is good enough for me; and no relation to that great fat man who was the writer and poet – were actually related by marriage to the Yaxleys and the Selwyns, I felt pretty sick, I can tell you.'

'Er. Yes.'

'Yes, I know. The House of Black and all that cobblers. But here's the thing, young Teddy. You begin with the family you're given. You get on with the family you choose. And in the end, you make your family as you like.

'But let's get you some memories, shall we? I do want them back when you're done.'

Seamus, unrepentantly listening in from the kitchen, Where He Was Doing Something It Was Best Not to Ask After, called in to them, laughing, 'Ah, we can make more, me ould darlin', as soon as you get the impressionable man-een away!'

Teddy grinned. 'Well, that's your evening sorted, Uncle Dean.'

'And by the time you've collected all these memories, it's your fortnight sorted,' retorted Dean.

________________________

'Come in, Teddy. I have – I have everything already set out for you.'

'Thank you, Aunt Hermione.' Well, that was no surprise: his most formidable courtesy-aunt (for certain values of formidable, primarily that of giving Grandm'ma, Aunt Molly, Aunt Cis, Aunt Minerva, and Augusta Longbottom a stroke a hole in match play) was notoriously organised and efficient. Although, he noted, she didn't look it, just now.

'Aunt?' It had been, for Teddy, an exasperating journey to Chineway Barton, just outwith the Otterys: in this blustery wet, even magical means of transportation were somewhat affected. But it looked as if Aunt Hermione had had a far more troubling, or perhaps troubled, day, simply stopping at home – and, by the look of her, even without having dealt with her in-laws.

'Sit down, Teddy. Please. Harry suggested what memories I might best concentrate upon retrieving, and I imagine he knows what he's about. Be that as it may … if there are any others, do say so. I. Well. Teddy, I also wish – and want – to apologise. No: hear me out. I did my best for you, when you were a Third-Former, but I now realise that my decisions were – informed, not to say inflected – my choices were … they had a good deal to do with my own background and my own personal struggles. I am not certain that my best was good enough: for you, in that case, at that time.'

'You needn't apologise, although of course it's accepted if you like. I knew even then, as I do now, that you meant the best, and acted from love, and, really, what else matters?'

Hermione smiled upon him, a trifle wistfully. 'Oh, your mother was a dear, but – Teddy, there are moments in which you are so like your father….'

And my godfather, thought Teddy, but wisely did not say.

________________________

'Lupin. Here to raid my teapot as well as my Pensieve, I take it?'

'Uncle Draco! Dear Cousin-cum-Uncle! I'm wounded, really.'

'Alas, you are not. No, don't morph into anything corpse-like, we'll take that as read. There are biscuits. And, naturally, tea. I know better than to think I can feed you only upon borrowed memories without being forced to stop your insatiable maw as well. How is Victoire? Flourishing? Yes, she would be, to judge by your sleek and self-satisfied look. Very Black of you. Not nearly so appealing as – well. Now, whilst Blastit gathers the phials, tell me about Steinacleit: anything new?'

'Wait – you've a House Elf named "Blastit"?'

'Sadly, yes. Although it does save time, one must admit. But let us not be distracted: speak to me of stone.'

Teddy knew that his cousin and courtesy-uncle didn't give a tinker's for Hebridean archæology: that, after all, involved people, Magical or Muggle, and Uncle Draco's opinion of people was low indeed, bar a select few. He had abandoned long ago mere genealogy and heraldry and antiquarianism for the simple facts of stone, for geology and geomancy, in which he had acquired more even than a layman's interest. (Of course, his having grown up in Wilts, amidst henge and tumulus, hadn't hurt.) And Teddy privately agreed with Uncle Harry that Draco had taken refuge in prehistory and indeed pre-human history for a number of reasons, but that amongst these was his shaken but intact conviction that he, like Pooh-Bah, was indeed 'a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent', who could by his own reckoning trace his ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule – in consequence of which, his family pride was something inconceivable, and he could not help it: he was born sneering. (It shouldn't have surprised Teddy or his godfather had Draco gone and dined with middle-class people on reasonable terms, danced at cheap suburban parties for a moderate fee, and accepted refreshment at any hands, however lowly.)

And yet somehow, this prickly fellow with all the world to snarl at and be snarled at by in his turn, had made his own family, and elected to include Teddy in it….

________________________

2. Little Gidding

Rime Intrinsica, Fontmell Magna, Sturminster Newton and Melbury Bubb,
Whist upon whist upon whist upon whist drive, in Institute, Legion and Social Club….


Bird-watching colonels, pink-washed plaster, slow trains crawling…. Moments tasted once, and never done, not truly, all time being one time out of time, and the three men upon the hill keeping the hill forever, revenant…. Medallions of art – o wolves of memory! A stone fidelity, hardly meant, and yet: the sword at last outwears its sheath, and the soul, the breast; all time is unredeemable, and we – we, mankind and unkind, faithless to ourselves and one another, cannot bear very much reality, a people without history unredeemed from timeless moments, never and always. The reprehensible perfection of life amidst books and china and perfect order – and then the nut-strewn roads to swagger down, the wild clear call of the sea and the flagged rope and the figurehead with golden tits, the passion of the pace drawing an unlikely wood and the hounds crying out a valediction fading upon the blowing of the horn, and larks singing in the West, above the green wheat; the tall heat and the broad blue lift of the sky: attachment, detachment, indifference, the riven soul adrift upon an unforgiving sea beneath fire-spilling stars, and all time is one as we are not one nor whole.

Uncle Harry had wielded the wand that had secured even Uncle Dudley's Muggle memories, and had invigilated the extraction of Al's and Scorp's, lest they, left to their own devices and desires, should have aped and mowed babooneries, setting with youthful impertinence the spindrift flying for mere exultation of rude health, too arrogant in youth to believe that age can come, eternal April wandering alone. (In orchards, tired ploughboys are forever calling cattle home, and the cattle come not and the voice never ceases from this calling, and all time is inherent in each moment, eternal, full and unfulfilled, and the dancers are gone under the hill, exasperated unless restored by refining fires wherein men must move in dancing measure, the pattern's detail of movement, all are gone into grimpen and mire, dark dark dark, they all go into that dark echoed ecstasy that is the agony of death and birth….)

And he? From any North Sutton to any South Norton, burnt or unsinged, from any West Aston to any East Weston, from any Barton to any Shaw or Lea, where, Teddy wondered, had he ever been wholly at home?

Even his mother- and father-in-law, indiscriminate courtesy-aunt and -uncle of his youth, had given of their memories: a discomfiting and uncomfortable thought. One end, which is always present, stretching before and after: home is where one starts from, but where is home? Who is for Liberty: who goes home? Not farewell, but fare forward, the scholar-gypsy roaming the world with wild brotherhood: a voyager without hope, from a strand unknown to a bourn of no returning, upon the route you would be likely to take from the place you would be likely to come from, between three districts whence the smoke arose, following what cannot be followed, an antique drum that beats the fluttering heart solemn on the beat of happiness, the train's beat of a foreign tongue; faring forward, through the unknown, unremembered gate in hope without hope that the end of the voyage is home, the discovery for the first time of the place where one began, the end whence all begins, the end that is where we start from: hankering for the homeliness of den and hole and sett.

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.


A condition, Teddy knew, of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything: the huge decisions printed out by feet inventing where they tread, the undiscovered country each man's America and new-found land, yet never discovered even when recovered and known at last for the first time…. Descrying omens: quite the peril, that, as ever for the scholar and the mage: he'd begged the shelter of his uncle's house (and had it, too, as Uncle Harry'd smiled, as one who knew what perils were in store for minds that seek and hearts that fear to find).

Teddy himself smiled to recall that. Having as widowers rediscovered one another, Uncle Harry and Uncle Draco were perfectly happy to keep house together and not keep separate households; but neither was a man given to giving away landed property, neither Uncle Draco's heritage nor that which Uncle Harry had with such pains recovered, the Potter patrimony.

But houses in themselves were not – unless one were an estate agent to and of the middle-classes, or, worse still, an American – homes. Days, days, are where we live: where can we live but days? Loss and recovery … the good man is the builder, if he build what is good. In the vacant places must all men build with new bricks; what life have we, if we have not life together, living dispersed on ribbon roads, no man knowing or caring who is his neighbour unless his neighbour makes too much disturbance? 'More light', had Goethe cried for as he died: Light, Light, the visible reminder of Invisible Light…. Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? It is at home, it is Home, and more than dusty death's brief candles must light the way homewards….

Redeem the time. Build. Restore. Dig the clay. Saw the stone. Light the forge with unquenchable fire, fire tongued with fire beyond the language of the living, flame of incandescent terror, redeemed from fire by fire, the tongues of flames in-folded into the crowned knot of fire, the fire and the rose being one. Proceed from light to light, always struggling, always reaffirming, always resuming the march on the way that is lit by the light: extinguish the candle, put out the light and relight it; forever quench, forever relight the flame (a lamp unto thy feet, and a light unto thy path, a light to lighten the Gentiles: et lux in tenebris lucet et tenebræ eam non conprehenderunt): so shall a man come home at last and know his place for the first time. Life is no brief candle, and its rays light to better ends than the way to dusty death. Aye: ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή, the upward and the downward way are one.

Where was home, then: that was the great issue, the finding of it, an older place than Eden and a taller town than Rome. He had never quite felt at home, and specially so – and not so – at Christmastide, in and not of the family that was always about him. Always had the stairs been steep and the bread bitter in an exile, an orphan's wanderings, which he had never been able to articulate, and never so cruel as to tell, to the family that chose him as family, and loved him.

With a deep breath that was at once sigh and wordless prayer, Teddy drew his chair up, and poured the first phial of memory into the Pensieve.

________________________

3. Our house (in the middle of our street)

It was – as Teddy, nine-and-twenty years after, was to observe – not a hole-in-corner, hugger-mugger baptism, but it was rather a higgledy one all the same. The rector of St Duthac's, Hogsmeade Brig, Flooed up to town to take it, although the church was that of St Grimwald, still bearing the scars of war and the attempted desecration – the wards upon the fabric of St Grimwald's were very strong – of Death Eaters and Snatchers and corrupted Aurors. Grandm'ma was in strict mourning, as were the Weasleys and Minerva; Ron, Harry, and Nev, in uniform, with their new-forged single pips up, subalterns of the reforming and purged Royal Corps of Aurors. Teddy himself was pink and white and gurgling happily, unaware of all that was about him.

Grandm'ma had elected to be his godmother as well as guardian; and in accordance with the rubrics, had asked Harry to suggest a second godfather. (The Lupins of Gévaudan, now Lozère, had been, through all the generations of their refuge in Angleterre, since before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, nominally Huguenot, members of l’Église Réformée de France in exile, conforming to the C of E only so far as required by law. The Blacks, insofar as any of them professed even nominally a faith, were recusant RCs of long standing. The Tonkses were solid, worthy Midlands members of the C of E. Andromeda, herself an RC, was determined that her grandson be baptised in the church by law established – Wizarding peculiar – in which communion his parents, compromising, had elected to be wed; and that all the rubrics be strictly observed.) Harry had been torn between a number of possibilities, until Ron had said, simply, that – Friend or not – Neville was really the only possible choice, for Remus' son (and for all Andromeda's insistence upon the rubrics, the C of E recks little of such details). And so it was that Andromeda, Nev, and Harry stood as godparents for the kicking little bundle: Harry, Nev, and Ron, amongst others, having arrived very late indeed from one of the innumerable funerals yet being had in the shattered world of British and Irish Wizardom.

The rector of St Duthac's, the Revd Dr Torquil Farquhar Innes PhD and MTh (St And) and DThaum (Domd), pulled a face longer even than God had granted him.

'Tach! It iss the way of chriss-tening in wartime and af-ter,' said he, in the sibilant liquid speech of the Highland Gaelic-speaker. 'The bairnss are almosst walking before they can be brought to the font.

'Weel-a-weellll…. And it iss St Grimwald Kirk here, and I shall go by the Sassenach buke.'

He switched codes immediately to upper-middle-class Received Scots.

'Dearly beloved, forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin: and that our Saviour Christ saith, None can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be regenerate and born anew of Water and of the Holy Ghost: I beseech you to call upon God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that of his bounteous mercy he will grant to this Child that thing which by nature he cannot have; that he may be baptised with Water and the Holy Ghost, and received into Christ's holy Church, and be made a lively member of the same.

'Let us pray….'

The old familiar words, almost instinct, wholly true: 'Suffer the little children to come unto me…'. The Teddy in the memory was silent, his eyes wide, his wisps of hair matched to the liturgical colours of the rector's vestments, absorbed, without yet comprehending, in this rite.

'Dearly beloved, ye have brought this Child here to be baptised, ye have prayed that our Lord Jesus Christ would vouchsafe to receive him, to release him of his sins, to sanctify him with the Holy Ghost, to give him the kingdom of heaven, and everlasting life. Ye have heard also that our Lord Jesus Christ hath promised in his Gospel to grant all these things that ye have prayed for: which promise he, for his part, will most surely keep and perform. Wherefore, after this promise made by Christ, this Infant must also faithfully, for his part, promise by you that are his sureties, until he come of age to take it upon himself, that he will renounce the devil and all his works, and constantly believe God's holy Word, and obediently keep his commandments.

'I demand therefore,

'Dost thou, in the name of this Child, renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow, nor be led by them?'

And Grandm'ma and Uncle Nev and Uncle Harry, answered, Grandm'ma crisp, Nev quietly commanding, Harry with Auroral decision: 'I renounce them all.'

And they clearly meant it, as the magic flared about them.

________________________

The thing about a Pensieve, Teddy reflected, was that you could look at an event from all angles.

There was Uncle Harry's memory, as well, of a few days prior: he and Grandm'ma, she in unrelieved mourning, he so obviously in mufti that he might as well have been in uniform.

'Of course there shall be a hymn, Harry. Damn me, I'm not havin' the child baptised as an afterthought, or without due ceremony.'

'I quite agree, Andy.' Clearly, Harry also should not abate a single ceremony, thrice-gorgeous, to his godson; as clearly, he had disagreed in detail. 'The fact remains, say what you like about St Hugh as a tune or about Gilbert White, "O Father, for this little life" is a bit milk-and-water for any son of Dora's or Remus' – let alone your or Ted's grandson.'

'Oh, don't be absurd, boy – "thy faithful soldier" begins the second verse.'

'Third, and it's clotted in treacle, Victorian treacle.'

'Impertinent child. And what do you as his godfather suggest, then?'

'Hymns Ancient & Magical Revised, number 424, "In token that thou shalt not fear": I'm told – Minerva was there, looking no doubt Covenanting and disapproving – that they used that at mine, after all, at St Dunstan's, Griffin Priors.'

And Harry, even as against Teddy's Formidable Grandm'ma, had clearly got his way: St Stephen the tune, Alford the writer:

In token that thou shalt not fear
Christ crucified to own,
we print the cross upon thee here,
and stamp thee his alone.

In token that thou shalt not flinch
Christ's quarrel to maintain,
but 'neath his banner manfully
firm at thy post remain.


Oh, yes: that had been all Harry, that choice. Teddy knew from years of experience that – well, the aphorism was, When Harry, play Parry, and that meant, as often as Harry could contrive or his friends or subordinates knew what was good for them, "My soul, there is a country": Where stands a wingèd sentry / All skilful in the wars … Thy fortress and thy ease…. That was all Harry, even more than was "I Vow to Thee, My Country" and all Holst with it: and from the first, Teddy saw, Harry – unflinching Harry, who never deserted a banner or failed to carry a position, and remained at any post against any odds with firm and manly defiance – had had him sealed not only with baptism, but sealed to Harry as his godson-all-but-son. As family.

________________________

'Oh, hold him, Draco. He shan't bite.'

Teddy, seeing the scene anew, as his tiny self wriggled in Draco's arms – damned nearly got the Crown Derby (or it may have been Sèvres: Teddy neither knew nor carried about modern ceramics, now as then) with that kick, which should have made Grandm'ma and Aunt Cis equally displeased, even in an infant: Teddy could readily remember, without the want of a Pensieve, how Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny, Aunt Aster and Uncle Draco, had quite simply fallen about when he, dining with them in his last year at school, had looked about carefully to make certain they were not overheard, particularly by any Potterlet or the young Malfite, and essayed the name he'd overheard Harry once using of the Formidable Widow Tonks: HMS Andromitable – Teddy, seeing the scene of that long-ago tea anew, noted Draco's trepidation. He'd clearly donned his best robes to take tea with his dragon of an aunt and his coolly dangerous mother, not imaging that the infant Teddy should make it a partie carrée. He didn't dare cheek his mother, but his expression was of the utmost dubiety as he picked Teddy up, as gingerly as he should have approached a Weasley.

'If this does become a Websterian tragedy –'

Grandm'ma's reply was sharp. 'Even if he were to bite, nephew, he is not, in point of fact, a werewolf, nor you the du- - oh, Teddy.'

Watching, Teddy blushed at his younger self, and winced for Draco's robes and Aunt Cis' and Grandm'ma's embarrassment.

'It doesn't matter,' said Draco. For a man who just been peed on by his infant cousin, he sounded not merely calm but indulgent. He was looking at the infant Teddy, enrapt. The adult Teddy craned to see why, to find his young face staring back at Draco happily … hair gone ash-blond, and eyes grey as a gull's wing.

'No,' said Draco. 'It doesn't matter a damn. Hullo, little man: I'm your cousin….'

It had been ages later – after Teddy had married – that Draco had mentioned, in passing, that Webster's play, The Tragedy of the Dutchesse of Malfy, had always infuriated him, as in fact Webster had based it upon an unfortunate passage in Malfoy history – including the lycanthropy of the brother – rather than any feigned Amalfitan incident. 'And yet,' he'd added, 'loathe it as I do, when Aster died … all I could think to say, really: "Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle. She died young".'

Knowing that, now, Teddy thought, made Aunt Cis' 'he won't bite', atop the horror Uncle Draco had lived through when Greyback when loose and living, as pointed as anything he'd ever heard in a family much given to pointed remark.

________________________

It had always, Teddy knew, been Christmases – peculiarly the holiday of family, beyond Easter or Harvest Festival, Remembrance Sundays whether Wizarding in May or Muggle in November, Bonfire Night or Maying or Midsummer's Eve – it had always been at Christmas that he had felt himself alone in the midst of the crowd that was and was not his family.

Partly, no doubt, it was the weather, the season: the post-owls – wait, o wait for an early owl – for all their feathers a-cold; the brown fog of a winter dawn, the brown fog of a winter noon, winter evenings, the violet hour, with the smell of beefsteaks haunting through passageways, the smoke and fog of all December afternoons, white feathers in the snow, swaddled with darkness at the end and the beginning of the year, the year old and sere, harvest behind, harvest home a home left for exile, cold the journey: a cold going to have of it, just the worst time of the year for a journey, and such a long journey, the ways deep, the weather sharp, the very dead of winter: and yet also the beginning of Life, the beginning of the Church year, Kalendar and calendar interpenetrate and making honours as they pass in contrary figures of the dignified and commodious sacrament of dance, the snow-dance, the dance of birth and death that are indifferent, indistinguishable, one: it is in the juvescence of the year comes Christ the tiger…. He is no wild-cat; he burns bright, against the cool purple-dark of winter evenfall that is winter waste and jungle of the night and the desert not remote in distant tropics nor only around the corner nor squeezed in the Tube train beside us but in the heart of all our brothers, the desert in the midst of winter that is the shadow beneath the red rock and fear in a handful of dust; he burns like iron in winter, the heart of light, the silence, bringing the peace that is a sword, sundering, cleaving self from bone and flesh, even as the gentlemen cry peace and there is no peace, not peace but a sword, not peace as the world gives, there is nothing given, do ut des, dare, datum, data, datta, dayadhvam, damyata: Shantih shantih shantih. Light thickens, Light fails on a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel, in disfigured streets, beside a pigsty, in the Edgware Road, at any terminus, in a draughty house, in a wilderness of mirrors, in cold boughs, shaken, bare ruined choirs, in gulfs, in the Happy Isles: bells imperial ring, God's amendment, from whose fair influence such justice flows that even Hieronimo is sane once more, though the wagging waggish world be jack-mad as its master. Cold, still afternoons with a hard, steely sky overhead; ragged strings of wild geese passing overhead, high on the grey sky, and a few rooks whirling over the trees; folded sheep stamping with delicate fore-feet, heads thrown back, a light steam rising into the frosty air from their huddled locomotive breath; the rapidity of nightfall and the powdered subtlety of snow: it is a time of sleep and drowse and snugness, the very cold and wind without underlining the warmth withindoors, and yet – without family, without one's place, where shall a man live in days? Steeple-shaking bells, carolling in frosty air, the scud of marbled clouds in a many-steepled sky, the gale's cushion and the consolation of winter seas, what are these of any worth but for the love that in a family dwells? Endless cycles, perpetual revolution and recurrence as perpetual, the unwearied pursuit of the Hunter with his dogs in his circuit, dogs in the midwinter, the eternal soar of the Eagle in the summit of Heaven – yet not the Eagle, but the loosed falcon, unheeding, in a widening gyre, hearing not the falconer, and the Eagle at last, at apex, all motionless still balance in the air, in the empty bowl of heaven above empty crawling wrinkled seas, the lost Eagle, Varus' Eagle, like a thunderbolt falls – these, without a place at the hearth and a place in the heart, without family, these are mere anarchy, the bloody tide of red, multitudinous seas incarnadine, loosed, a great wave, the wolves of water who howl along our coast and whom we pretend not to hear, the moon silent ruling garrulous tides that gather, and recede again on naked shingle, the melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, eternal whisperings around desolate shores, to mount and mount and come swift in, tsunamic, the winds of Heaven unbound at last, a wave mounting to fall upon all shores, and the dancers are gone under the wave, they dance a dance not commodious nor yet dignified, but rather time's whirligig, Father Time's whirligig and the old man, palsied, dances, is out of his wits, dancing the ringing grooves of changelessness and stale recurrence, the Platonic year – stop all the clocks: the blind clock grows louder, faster – and the self-swallowing serpent: and it's no go the roundabout, the centre cannot hold; the centrifugal bumble-puppy, played and played, won and lost, nothing save a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won, the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life, lost and won, when the hurly-burly's done, whirls out new right and wrong, whirls in the old instead, and the new dance is not a patch upon the old, a forced dance, the tarantella of anomie, Death's gavotte to the grave, slouching towards Bedlam, and all men are dancers and their tread goes to the barbarous clangour of a gong. What shall we tell the Stranger – the third who walks always with us – if we live huddled together, yet not for community, in community? What life have we, if we have not life together? For there is not life that is not in community; and we shall not evade the Stranger, and we must sow without thought of harvest, so that we be prepared for the Stranger and the question we shall not evade, and the answer we must make. In the end (we begin at the end, in my end is my beginning), the man who returns must meet the boy who left; that is the completion which at the beginning should have seemed the ruin.

It had always been Christmas bloody Christmas, and no wonder that Teddy like his father buried himself in books and data, the society of dead poets, shored against his ruin (datta, dayadhvam, damyata: Shantih shantih shantih), his labyrinth that shielded him, wherein he might avoid sense-data and the sharp cold winter wind of interaction and the world of levelling wind, howling wind, dogs in the midwinter, cold in mangers, turning last suppers to feasts….

It was time to confront these his Christmasses.

________________________

'Now,' said Andromeda. 'Teddy's first Christmas.'

'Yes….'

'You needn't look at me in that fashion, Young Harry. I intend that he have it with family.'

'Oh.'

Andromeda cast her eyes heavenwards. 'You are included in that definition, boy. I don't think Grimmauld is precisely sained and lustrated as yet, sufficiently for a family Christmas at any rate, so you needn't press it upon me yet again. Atrum, I think, is rather less so – 'm yet purgin' that old pile. Bloody Bella…. Bloody Blacks, in fact, full stop. We certainly haven't room here in town, and I cannot see – for all Molly's kindly offer – Cis and m' nephew at the Burrow….'

Harry laughed. 'All right, Aunt Andy. You don't want to keep insinuating. Griffin Priors it shall be – the Dower House is more than sufficient whilst the Elves finish putting the house in order, and it's amazing, really, how people have so incuriously remembered it's there after years of seeing only the rubble of the estate cottage without the gate.'

'Rubble it may be, boy, but it's sacred ground.' She gave him a very sharp look. 'It don't fret you, havin' the place of your parents' sacrifice so near to your gates, and all your people in Godric's Hollow gawkin'?'

'No…. No. I made my peace with Mum and Dad in the wood, before Tom Riddle tried to kill me that last time. To have been able to say a proper farewell to them, and Sirius, and Remus – that was enough. Now … I suppose I – when I pass by, when I see it, when it's mentioned, I simply feel … love, and awe, and gratitude.'

'Do you indeed? You've come damned far, damned fast, then. Far from the shouty schoolboy, certainly. Remus chose wisely in choosin' Teddy's godfather. Very well: Godric's it shall be. And with Cis and Draco, even so?'

'Even with them, and all the Weasleys, and who knows who else. I've made my peace.'

'Have you, by God. Remus should have done, perhaps – Dora shouldn't have; nor Sirius, nor yet James.'

'If I'd a quarrel with them, it should be mine, and Sirius': but I have forgiven Kreacher, after all, and he was merely an instrument. The villain of the piece was always the Old Bitch of Grimmauld.'

Andromeda laughed, a sharp sound of assent and shared contempt.

'As was Cissy an instrument,' added Harry. 'Kreacher was under orders, and he'd have gone on making a scene until Looshy the Oik took notice – and then Cis should have been in the soup, and Draco with her, for failing immediately to report. And that might have lost the War, unless some other unforeseeable event had righted things to the same end. She was in an intolerable position. And I think … I think, perhaps, that if ever I were forced to choose between protecting Teddy, or any child of mine, as against protecting a cousin, even Dudley now that he's a tolerable sort … I think I should choose as Cissy did.'

'And Ron and Hermione? D'you think they'll wear it?'

'It doesn't arise. They'll tolerate it in future, in my house. But this year, they'll stop by but briefly. Hermione's parents … well. Least said and all that.'

'Yes. No names, no wand drill. It's damned hard to forgive those who've saved us without a by-your-leave: perhaps the hardest thing I know.'

Harry's smile, this time, was a drawn sword. 'Aunt Andy, I have met your nephew.'

She chortled. 'And I … knew your father. Had Ted not been Ted then, and had Lily not been Lily, I might well have let James Potter mature in cask for a few seasons longer, then snaffled him up m'self. Just you think of that, boy. I know Potters – and you, thank God, are an Evans, with but the salt of that touch of Black and the spice of a Potter. Damned good thing, I may add. Godric's Hollow it shall be, then, and mind the Elves don't bash m' trunks about. I shall arrive, with Teddy, on the 23d, in time for tea. Oh – and Harry? In the unlikely event Lucius were free to attend….'

The sword flashed again, ringing steel. 'I've made my peace with Cis and Draco. Looshy shall never come within my bounds or within a Quidditch pitch's length of my godson whilst he or I shall live.'

Watching in the Pensieve, Teddy realised just how wisely his parents had chosen his godfather, and his Grandm'ma as guardian.

________________________

Children, proverbially, cry for the moon; the infant Teddy, warmly bundled and wrapt in Warming Charms, was reaching happily if vainly for the sun. His older iteration was equally transfixed, staring rapt, standing at gaze. It was a frosty early morning. In the South-Eastwards quarter of a brilliant Bristol-cobalt sky, a bank of cloud was piled, above the wood, the low sun of the cold season behind, white radiance streaming upwards. Scuds broke from the cloudbank, streaming wispily Nor'-Westwards, thinning as they sped; above, aloft, in contrary winds, cirrus intortus drained away into uncine fallstreaks, straightening, draining away into the dawn, passing into the white light and iridescing, drawing at last together into stratiform cirrocumulus, undulated by the shearing winds, as if watercolours could be laid on with a knife, blushing lavender and thistle and phlox, azure, cærulean, turquoise, Eton blue. Trailing clouds of glory do we come…. The watching Teddy's inner ear was filled, suddenly: 'Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people'; and Stanford in G, the Nunc dimittus, 'Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, to be a light'….

It was all he could do to tear his eyes and mind and ear away, and catch the words that puffed out in frosty breaths which themselves iridesced into small crumbs of spilt rainbow.

'… the past three Christmases.'

'And I'll do it for next hundred, Andy, so long as you allow.'

'Harry…. You are, eventually, goin' to marry, are you not? Ginny cannot be capped for England forever, nor you remain in the field. D'you intend to have children?'

'Yes. Yes, of course.'

'Mind you put them first. You're his godfather, but you'll owe it to Ginny and whatever little terrors you produce – pests from the cradle, they'll be, if I know Potters, Prewetts, Blacks, Macmillans, and Weasleys, and, doe my sins, I do – to know the difference between a godfather and a father, and your godchild and your own terrible children. And if you don't, boy, your lady wife'll make it clear to you.'

Harry was far too old, now, to look petulant, nor did he: he had cultivated a look of military-minded mulishness that was equalled by few and exceeded by none. 'Andy, he is and shall always be my godson, full stop. And I shall do my full duty by him.'

Andromeda sighed, spilling chromatic rainbows upon the air. Harry was already married, and she and all Wizardom knew it (Ginny included, and Ginny, wisely, did not protest): wed indissolubly to Duty, stern daughter of the Voice of God. When Harry mentioned Duty, even Andy, and Cis, and Molly, and for that matter Minerva and Augusta, gave over: there was no moving him at that point. (And why not, Teddy, watching old memories, reflected: Not once or twice in our rough island-story, the path of duty was the way to glory, and Arthur Weasley's son-in-law-to-be was even then Arthur Wellesley to the life.)

'On your head be it, boy. Griffin Priors again this year it shall be.'

________________________

Another Christmas in Godric's Hollow, at Griffin Priors, and Teddy in memory rising seven, this time with solid Dudley up from Elstead with his staunch and as solid Elspeth his wife (née Bulstrode: Millie's Squib cousin), and all the – yes: he saw that now – all the family; and Aunt Ginny heavily pregnant with, as it should turn out, that bundle of tactless mischief, James Sirius. A world as yet without Albie and Lils, and without Harriet Dursley, Harry's future namesake and goddaughter; a world in which the very-nearly-four-year-old being cosseted and cooed over by all concerned, and watched with premonitory distrust by Teddy, was the young Victoire.

'Quite soon, you know,' said Harry, confidingly, 'there will be another baby: mine and your Aunt Ginny's. I shall want your help, Teddy, a good deal: a sort of big brother, you know, to the new arrival. They're not all as frightening as you find Victoire, you know.'

'But the new baby'll be like Vic,' protested Teddy. 'It'll have a mummy and a daddy. All I have is godparents and Grandm'ma.'

Harry chose his words carefully. 'Well, Teddy, that's more than I had. I had an aunt and an uncle who didn't like me very much, and a godfather who was held by the enemy, though we didn't realise it, and Cousin Dudley – and in those times, Dudley and I weren't friends. My mummy and daddy had died fighting the dark, just like yours did.'

Teddy by now was quite as good at mulishness as his godfather. He looked away, firmly silent, and clearly unhappy.

Then, at the time, he had not heard, or had not attended to, Hermione's silent, swift approach, and her murmur to Harry: 'What are you going to tell him?' Nor had he seen the firm look Harry had returned to his joint-oldest friend, or heard his reply: 'The truth, of course. And tender years be damned.'

Watching the memory, Teddy could see Hermione's intake of breath, and air of bracing herself, as Harry swept Teddy up and carried him into the library. There were Wizarding portraits let into the walls, but Harry had eyes only for two photographs in a joined frame upon his desk, the twins of those on Dromeda's desk at home, and a double cabinet on the opposite side: Lily and James.

'Teddy. There they are, you know: your mother and father. And here on the other side of the desk, see?, those are mine. I know you know the story of my parents, Teddy – probably too well: there's … well, too much is made of me, and not enough of them, particularly of my Mum's sacrifice, but what is made too much of is the sentimental goo, it's become treacle in the telling. Sorry: never mind that. What I mean to say, is, you know my parents died for me. For all of us, in the end. Do you think that was easy for them? Do you think that means they didn't love me?'

A fat tear rolled down Teddy's cheek. 'No, Uncle Harry. But they were standing up to Tom Riddle, face to face. And they did, they did leave you! And, and, mine left me, and it wasn't the same, it wasn't –'

'Oh, yes, it was, little man. They wanted to live for you. But they were willing to die for you, and me, and Ginny and your Grandm'ma and all of us, but specially for you, Teddykins, because they wanted you to live free, and happy, even if that meant they couldn't share it. It's not that hard to live for someone: living for you, Teddy, as I do and Nev does and your Grandm'ma does, is fun, because it means we have the chance to live with you and play with you and watch you grow and explore the world and fall into streams and get muddy, and we can cuddle you even though you think you're too big for that now. But they loved you so much they were willing to miss out on all that, so long as their deaths made you safe to grow up free and happy. They're no different to my parents, Teddy. It's very hard to die for someone, you know: you must love that person very much to give your today and all the tomorrows you shan't have, so that someone else can have all his tomorrows. And that's how much your parents loved you.'

It was a good quarter of an hour before Teddy, tears dried and face cleaned and nose wiped, walked into the drawing room hand in confiding hand with his godfather.

'Now, why don't you go help Victoire with her – with whatever it is she's playing with, although if it's something your Uncle George smuggled in I'll have his guts for garters. I know, little man, but she's still a baby, she wants a big brother to help her even if you are too old for … whatever it is, I shall slay George if the dam- – if the ruddy thing explodes….'

'It's all right, Uncle Harry. She falls down a lot anyway, even if things don't go bang.'

'Well, just you pull her back up if she does, Teddy. Off with you now.'

At the time, Teddy had not caught Bill's wolfish smile, or heard his remark to Harry: 'He'd best not begin pulling birds already, Harry, least of all my daughter: who do want him to be when he's grown, bloody Sirius?'; Teddy had heard only, as he heard now in memory, the ring of adult laughter as he went to help Victoire with her wooden futhorc blocks, which, he recalled with a ghostly twinge of old pain, being wooden, hadn't wanted George's patent mayhem to them to hurt like buggery when she'd whanged him with one for no bloody reason save inborn Weasley savagery….

________________________

A later Christmas, Jamie, what? Six now? – thereabouts, surely – yes, six, of course, because Al and Scorp and Rosie and Molly are at the cusp of five, and Lils like Victoire before her a solemn near four, and already uninterested in dolls or blocks, whanging away with a wooden hammer (including on Teddy, not infrequently, if he were so unwary as to stray within her reach without a weather eye out), and Hugo stolid at just four, Lucy imperturbable at three, with four-year-old Harriet already a Hufflepuff in miniature with her mother's innate air of being Matron; Freddikins and Roxy still crawling about, and already dangerous with it….

And Teddy thirteen, a bundle of bravado and uncertainty, less intolerable than the average teenaged boy (and precisely how intolerable teenaged Wizards and Witches could be was to be shown all too soon once Jamie and Al and Scorp and Lils should in turn attain that status, let alone Freddy and Roxy – Rose and Hugo, Molly and Lucy, being at that age insufferable in other ways entirely, after the fashion of the young Hermione and the young Percy, although with sudden dangerous reversions to the Fabian-Gideon-Gred-and-Forge type); Teddy, then, thirteen, and unable to talk to his godfather Harry as he should like to do. Trailing clouds of glory do we come; yet school and adolescence are the shades of the prison-house that begin to close upon the growing boy….

They were in Elstead this year, all of them, in plump and easy Home Counties comfort, with the conventional cottages and conventional snow and obligatory, bespoke crispness of Surrey air upon the rim of the winter Weald. Uncle Nev, Teddy's other godfather, who missed nothing, exchanged a glance with the equally – and surprisingly – observant Uncle Dudley; and Uncle Harry and Uncle George nodded.

'Lupin – no, sorry, we're not in term-time, are we? Teddy, then. I want your help. Come along. There's nothing like enough evergreens here, and Dud says we can walk over to Cross Mead and cut some.'

Teddy was no fool, then or now; he was certainly not fool enough to turn down his other godfather's offer, if a command however politely phrased could be called an offer after what it concealed. And walk, rather than Apparate, they did, through the conventionally wintry landscape, to Dudley's Cross Mead Farm over Tilford way, Nev chatting idly, if to some purpose, of successor plants that revealed to a budding young antiquary of a Lupin where antiquities might be found.

It was after they had gained the (comparative) warmth and silent emptiness of the farmhouse, half-timbered, galleted brick and Bargate stone beneath hipped roof, snug and still, and Nev had waved a negligent wand to start the tea and cast his warming charms, that Teddy was well and truly cornered, a guilty thing surprised.

'Now – out of term, with school broken up for the hols and me but your spare godfather – just you tell me, Teddy, what has you with face like a constipated Crup.'

'Er. Oughtn't we to be cutting evergreens?'

'We've wands, and we shall Apparate back. We've ample time. Now, leave off mankin' about and meithering, you young eggwap.'

'I. It's. Idunnounclenev.'

'Ey-up, lad, speak proper. You're talking to me, not chewing a brick.'

'You knew Dad.'

'Aye. Best man I ever knew.'

'Was he?'

'Oh, aye. But this isn't about him, Teddy – is it.'

'He. He and – before my Mum – he and Sirius….'

'Ah.'

'"Ah"?'

'Owdonabit. I said it because I see where you're headed.' Nev was comfortably professorial now, a ripe scholar speaking of things within his knowledge, with all the critical apparatus of a trained mind directed towards the problem. 'Of the Marauders, James and Sirius were the closest friends, as friends, and fairly close cousins as well. When Sirius went off to stop with the Potters, rebelling against his family, not even the Blackest of the Blacks dared say anything: Harry's grandparents were – well: they were the Potters, and not the most arrogant Black nor any Malfoy spawned was daft enough to think the Potters anything less than what they were, a cut above, even if the Blacks did think themselves all but royal. Nobody ever on any occasion said anything to Potters save us Longbottoms, really, and perhaps the occasional Weasley or Prewett, not that we four families weren't commonly agreed in any case. What you want to get through your head, lad, is that this whole "pureblood" balls was, actually, a rebellion, not a reaction, by families who resented the old County families such as Harry's and Arthur's and Molly's and mine.

'As friends and connexions, James and Sirius were always closest. But beneath the superficial, they were very much not alike – well, look at their Animagus forms. Your father fascinated Sirius: canids both, after all, and your father beneath his tweeds and diffidence the wild and original one. I've no idea if either of them fancied the other; no one alive knows that. I do know your father truly loved your mother – as everyone did who'd a pair of eyes to his head and a heart in his body. But – to use a ghastly Americanism – Sirius and Remus had a profound, ah, "bromance", and, boarding schools being boarding schools, there's no telling what else may have come of that. It certainly shan't have picked up again after: Sirius was too unstable and Remus too honourable to take advantage, then.

'But if you're thinking that has anything to do with what you're feeling at your age, don't be a fool. There's no such fate as that – there's no fate, full stop, unless you're fool enough to make your prophecies self-fulfilling, a point lost on Tom Riddle, I may add. And you're at an age at which a light breeze puts you on heat.

'If you're beginning to notice, and be ashamed to notice, how Ginny or Aster fills out a pair of slacks or Hermione – or Angelina – a cardie … or indeed Hannah although I'm not as obsessed with busts as Weasley men apparently are; and possibly how Ron's shoulders look, or Draco's bum in robes, or just how much of Harry dresses to the left – all the growth that lad had in that damned cupboard seems to have been diverted from his height, I shared a dormitory with him, after all, and know whereof I speak – and if you notice all these together, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you save being thirteen. And it doesn't mean you're some monster – save as all teenagers are monstrous: give me the lower forms any term, please – who wants to be excluded from family gatherings, either: even if anyone should notice, they'll remember their own youth – with burning embarrassment as like as not – and say not a word. Nor yet'll anyone care two pins which sex, if not both, you end by favouring – not with this lot they shan't. And, Teddy? Whatever you do, don't be fool enough to take any such problems or worries to anyone who'll be silly enough to ask Hermione to do some discreet research or look out a Helpful Pamphlet for Teenaged Boys, she'll end by overdoing it … as she always does.

'Now, buck up, have your tea, and let's get those evergreen boughs sorted. Why decking halls is always such an endeavour I don't know, but that's Church folk for you….'

________________________

For all Nev's wise advice, he and Teddy alike had underestimated the number of well-meaning damned fools in the extended family, their ability to notice adolescent discomfort, and their fatal willingness to turn to Hermione; and – Teddy, thinking back to that very first Pensieved memory: 'Hermione's parents … well. Least said and all that': and realising just what that had left unsaid, the Grangers lastingly distrustful now of magic and never again fully confident of their daughter ('The point, Hermione, is that you didn't ask! Australia – Australia, and all our memories wiped!' 'Come, come, my dear, Hermione meant it for the best – although I must say, Hermione, I am still a trifle taken aback that I spent most of a year supporting the Baggy Greens in the Ashes…') – well: and, with all Aunt Hermione's own demons, unexorcised, driving her … Pye's recommendation of Galen Newe, Hermione's atavistic urges for the familiarity of Muggle learning, these had resulted in making his thirteenth year more miserable than necessary, if with the best of intentions; and even at his last Christmas before leaving Hogwarts, it had yet sundered him, a bit, from those who loved him.

Equally uncomfortable, then as now in reviewed memory, had been Uncle Bill's gimlet eye and wine-flushed cheek as he'd said, meaningfully and with as meaningful a glance at his part-Veela eldest and his (as he by then expected) future son-in-law, the shape-shifter, the fell-changer, 'I've at least heard no regrettable reports of Victoire this year – or of Teddy.' That had been nicely ambiguous, with no little warning in it: he'd known, all right, as fathers somehow always did know. Uncle Charlie had cuffed his shoulder, a blow that had felled a dragon, let alone an older brother, and smiled a trifle reminiscently, saying, 'Oh, Teddy. We knew his Mum, after all….' And that had a double edge to it as well, although it was meant irenically.

That had been a bad Christmas, in any case: the loss of Aster and of Ginny even now too raw, too recent. (And too guilty, for Teddy: he'd always sensed that Ginny resented as she loved him, as having usurped a place as Harry's firstborn son, and he'd been silently hurt in his turn, and her death had been, in a very slight way - one that did not at all render insincere his grief - a guilty relief.) Lils had been clingy, although in a purely sibling fashion (it had always caused Teddy to sweat with fear, the prospect that one of his all-but siblings should develop a pash for him); and she'd said, that Christmas in Draco's widower's house, the old manor in Wilts, 'Do marry Victoire, Teddy, as soon as she's left school, so you'll be a member of this family forever.' Teddy had controlled himself manfully, and simply said, in an admirably even tone, 'I thought I already was, Lils.'

At the time, over Jamie's and Al's remonstrations – 'Of course you are, Christ, Lils, are you thick, she didn't mean it that way, Teddy, tell him you didn't, Lils' – he'd not heard, as he heard now, Lils' quiet, 'We wouldn't leave you, Teddy, I just don't want you to leave us…'.

And she'd been right. He'd been withdrawing from them for some years now, as from Grandm'ma, who continued flourishing, quite as ageless as ever Aunt Cissy was; feeling himself an intruder the more with each day that he felt more and more determined to make Victoire his own, when she came of age. After all, what he was contemplating – and his mouth went dry, and his knees, loose, whenever he thought of the looks he sometimes surprised Bill and Fleur casting in his direction – was a great change, the transformation of Fleur and Bill from comfortable courtesy-aunt and -uncle to in-laws.

It had been understandable, then. It was, Teddy thought, looking anew upon old memories, understandable now. Yet had been foolish all the same.

He thought back to a memory from Uncle Dean and Uncle Seamus, another view of that same uncomfortable Christmas.

'There's a lad as looks guilty.'

'We all did at that age. Were, too. But I doubt Bill cares to remember that – or, worse, remembering what he was like at that age….'

'Faith! And with Polyjuice and all sorts, and him a Metamorphmagus … and do y' think he's been her and she's been Ted-een?'

'You're a dirty-minded sod, Shameless – and don't you come the stage Irishman with me.'

'Ah, Dean me darlin', I'll come with you whatever, how you like.'

'Christ, will you behave?'

Seamus being Seamus, that had been a rhetorical question, as the swift termination of that bit of memory attested; but the two roués had had him sussed, Teddy reflected, in how he and Victoire had managed not to Get Her In Trouble whilst yet having their fun; and Uncle Harry had clearly warned him, firstly by Dispassionate Remarks of General Application and secondly by Random Scholarly Observations, on how, although the sliding stairs of the sex-segregated dortoirs might be fooled by Polyjuice, or, as it might be, by a Metamorph, those clever chaps the Marauders, Teddy, your father amongst 'em, had created the Map in such a way that it was not deceived….

That was even now capable of raising a blush in Teddy. And a guilty curiosity, even now, about his mother's schooldays, and his parents' sex-lives, which speculation he really was someday going to have professionally Obliviated.

________________________

And at last, and from all angles and all memories, that Christmas of Victoire's last year at Hogwarts.

'Teddy.'

'Uncle Harry. Er….'

Harry's smile had been infinitely patient, and indulgent. Teddy took a deep breath. Before he could speak, Uncle Harry did. 'I'll cast any shields that are wanted, Ted – not that Bill or Fleur are going to cut up rough. I think they've resigned themselves to it, by now.'

Teddy could only goggle at his godfather.

Harry laughed. 'Tedders, they didn't, actually, make me CMGS and Commander-in-Chief, Royal Corps of Aurors, for my looks or my fame. You're going to announce your intended engagement to my niece, and seek her parents' blessing – as you have mine, as your godfather, and no doubt Nev's and Andy's.' His smile hardened. 'As you shall have Fleur's and Bill's. No, I needn't make certain of that, Molly and Arthur shall, they're very much in your corner.'

He stood, and came around the desk of his study to hug Teddy tightly. 'Teddy…. In many ways my eldest child. This isn't your finally finding a place in this family, you know: we never could and shouldn't ever wish to be shut of you. This is our finally making certain you can't leave us – for which I am unfeignedly thankful.'

He released his godson and stepped back. 'Annoying of you to have grown so tall. But it does mean you're quite old enough for this: let's have the good brandy before we go out and face the Dementors, eh? Who shall, I assure you, turn to Pygmy-Puffs so soon as you make your announcement.'

And so it had been; and if, in the intervening years, Teddy and Victoire had engrossed themselves in their own lives, somewhat to the exclusion of the larger family (and Fleur's and Molly's complaints), that had been natural enough at their age, as a young married couple. Yet perhaps it was time to reconsider that….

Teddy stepped away from the Pensieve. Tomorrow, he proposed, with the knowledge he now had of the memories he'd been given, to review his own memories of these Christmases past.

________________________

4. Five Hundreth Points of Good Husbandry United to as Many of Good Huswifery


Forth, pilgrim, forth! Forth, beste, out of thy stal!
Know thy contree, look up, thank God of al;
Hold the hye wey, and lat thy gost thee lede:
And trouthe thee shal delivere, hit is no drede.



Christmas again, Teddy's nine-and-twentieth in this sublunary sphere; an evenfall swiftly gathering, soft and deep as the Christ Church tenor bell. Familiar now as Al and Scorp, Dean and Seamus, were Uncle Harry and Uncle Draco as widowers who had found new love with one another; Grandm'ma and Cis might have been schoolgirls again, plotting sororal mischief; everyone was pleasantly satiate, idling over pudding.

Time was; time is; time has passed. Turn the page; close the book (break the staff, drown the book, full fathom five: a plaything and a toy, dropt deeper than ever plummet sounded, for any pair of ragged claws, scuttling across the floors of silent seas). No longer Don Quixote, perceiving himself unable to stir, bethinking himself of recourse to his usual remedy, recollecting some passage in his books. The paper barricade is but gossamer, a citadel and a snare, fit for mischief and for use: who will save his life shall lose it. Live: sortie, ride out, engage. What call'st thou solitude? Is not the Earth with various living creatures, and the Air, replenished, and all these at thy command to come and play before thee? Taste and see: to eat and know is not the same as rejection, it is not the sin that says, 'Get stewed: books are a load of crap' (though malt does more than Milton can to justify God's ways to man): gustate et videte quoniam bonus Dominus beatus vir qui sperat in eo. Where shall we live but in days? How shall we live but in community? What answer to the Stranger and the question, 'What is the meaning of this city'? For Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself; the city is built to music, therefore never built at all, and therefore built for ever, and the sanctity shall not depart from it though sightseers come with guide-books looking over it.

Safe with the love all were born to know, safe from the surging of the lonely sea and the winter sea-winds, chill and shriller than those of summer, all their cold unloading futilely upon the warm, safe stone and slate, rooted in one dear perpetual place like a green laurel however mad the mist and snow, Teddy rose. Let the wind without weave: there are no ghosts, and there is light seen even by eyes that see not whence it comes. He tapped a wineglass with a dessert fork, and waited for the attention of scores.

'Uncle Harry; Uncle Draco. It's been another lovely Christmas – thank you.' Andromeda, catching his mood, sat forward, just. 'But I think all of you in turn have done quite enough. Victoire and I – well, bags we next year: Christmas shall be at our place.'

Harry grinned at his godson.

'So do plan on that, you lot.' Teddy smiled back at them all, and his godfather particularly. 'All the Family.'

'Lovely,' said Aunt Molly; 'such a relief. Arthur, pass the brandy-butter, dear.'

________________________

My friend, if cause doth wrest thee,
Ere folly hath much oppressed thee,
Far from acquaintance kest thee
Where country may digest thee...

Thank God that so hath blessed thee,
And sit down, Robin, and rest thee.


– Thos Tusser

Date: 2012-12-08 10:29 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (teddy lupin)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Oh, Teddy. *hugs him* Glad he got his head around everything in the end. I lol'ed at quite a few things and I've got to say I'm surprised I caught as many poetry references as I did. I didn't think I was that sharp at poetry, but apparently I am.

Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-21 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wemyss.livejournal.com
I'm vy glad you liked it.

Date: 2012-12-09 12:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrs-jack-turner.livejournal.com
This was a really nice Teddy fic :) I liked getting to see all of the differences in the people he interacted with. Great fic :)

Thank you.

Date: 2012-12-21 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wemyss.livejournal.com
I'm greatly obliged.

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