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CHAPTER ELEVEN




The next day started out normally enough. Everyone had a nice breakfast before Percy went off to work. Mr. Weasley and George had returned to the Burrow in shifts to take showers and eat before heading back to the hospital. Mrs. Weasley would be returning home tomorrow for the rest of her recovery. Her body was healing nicely and her magical powers were steadily returning. A healer specializing in mental energies visited with her yesterday. She would be meeting with her regularly over the next few weeks. Molly knew it was going to be hard, but she also knew she had to move past this place of hurt she had been stuck in for the past few years. It was time. She needed to let herself feel again even if all she felt was pain and heartache. Only then could she hope to move past it all. It’s time to stop faking my own happiness just to keep others happy. It’s time for me to start being honest with everyone, including myself. Please Fred, if you can hear me, I need you to help me through this. 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

After breakfast Ron, Ginny and Harry helped Hermione with her flying, again. Once she felt more confident on her broom they could start tossing a quaffle back and forth. For now, just the act of balancing herself on a broom was taking all of her concentration.

           

“You know, it’s kind of satisfying seeing Hermione struggling with something, for a change. I was beginning to think there was nothing that witch couldn’t do and do perfectly,” Ron admitted with a smirk.

 

“Yeah mate, I know what you mean,” Harry agreed.

 

“Now, boys, be nice. This is all new territory for our dear Hermione. She’s not used to being bad at anything. I think she sees this as a personal challenge,” said Ginny. She grabbed her broom from the rack and bounced past the two young men, toward the open field. Ron and Harry stared after her for a minute chuckling to themselves, before grabbing their own brooms and taking to the skies.

 

 A few hours later, they were gathered in the sitting room, after eating lunch and showering. They were leisurely chatting about everything from Mrs. Weasley’s return home tomorrow, to what was going to happen with Hogwarts. They were in the middle of discussing Kingsley’s request for a press conference, when the fireplace crackled and the face of Andromeda Tonks appeared amidst the golden embers.

 

“Hello everyone, I’m sorry to intrude on you like this, but Harry, I need to speak with you about an urgent matter.”

 

“Um, it’s not about the funds I set up for you and Teddy, is it? I mean, I was going to talk to you about that before they sent you the key, but then Mrs. Weasley got hurt and I---”

 

“No, Harry,” she smiled at him. “This is not about the funds, although that did take me by surprise this morning. It was a wonderful thing you did for us but I don’t know how I will ever be able to repay you.”

 

“By letting me be a part of Teddy’s life. I’m glad you flooed, actually. This will give us a chance to set up some sort of visiting schedule for Teddy and me.”

 

“Yes, well…that’s sort of what I wanted to speak with you about. Teddy may be visiting with you sooner than you expected,” she explained.

 

“Oh…OK…,” Harry replied hesitantly.  “Um, I’m free now if you’d like to stop by.” He was wondering what came up that Teddy needed looking after right away.

 

Andromeda stepped out of the fireplace a short while later with a bundled up Teddy in her arms. Ron, Ginny and Hermione said their hellos and were getting ready to leave the room when Harry stopped them. “Is it OK if everyone stays?” he asked Andromeda.

 

“Yes, of course. I’m sure there aren’t many secrets kept between the four of you.” She smiled affectionately at them.

 

They all settled around the kitchen table with Teddy nestled in his baby carrier, on the floor between Andromeda and Harry’s chairs. “So, what can I do for you, Mrs. Tonks?” asked Harry.

 

“Please, Harry, everyone…call me Andromeda,” she told them. “Well, I’ve never been one to beat around the bush, so I’m just going to come out and tell you the reason I am here. Do you recall seeing my sister and nephew at the funeral?” she asked.

 

Everyone nodded in response. “Well, needless to say, it was quite a shock for me to see them after not speaking with them for over 25 years. As you all know my parents disinherited me when I married Ted. There has not been one day that I have regretted my decision, but it has been difficult at times, not having my family around. Ted’s parents were wonderful, but they knew very little about the wizarding world. Can you imagine how strange it must have been for them to have a granddaughter with ever-changing appearances?” She gave a soft laugh. “Yet, they loved her with all their heart. My own parents never even attempted to see her before they died.” Her laughter faded into silence, but she regained her composure quickly.

 

“Anyway, after the funerals, Cissy came to speak with me. She wanted to apologize for all the years of pain she had caused me and my family. She told me how sorry she was that she never got to know Ted or Dora. She tried to explain how she felt compelled to attend the funerals, even though she knew she would not be welcomed. She was crying as she stated how unfair it was that I had lost so much.”

 

Andromeda had to pause for a moment.  She dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief she pulled from the pocket of her robes before continuing, “Well, I’m afraid I was too shocked to say anything back to her. All I did was nod my head in acknowledgement of her apology. Then she gave me a quick hug and the next thing I knew they were both gone.”

 

“She gave you a hug?” Ginny asked, looking surprised. She found it hard to believe Narcissa Malfoy was capable of showing affection like that.

 

But, before Andromeda could answer, Hermione cut in with her own question, in a quiet, unsteady voice, “Do you feel she was being sincere?” She was remembering the torture she received at Malfoy Manor, while Narcissa and her family stood by and watched. The images just popped in her head at the mention of Narcissa’s name. Ron put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. She leaned against his body, grateful for the support.

 

“Honestly, I don’t know. But, the person I saw yesterday was a tired defeated woman, old beyond her years. I did not recognize her as the arrogant selfish woman she once was. But, it is hard to know for certain.” She paused a moment, thinking. “A part of me wants to believe she truly is remorseful for the suffering she and her family have caused so many people. But, I also understand how difficult it would be for anyone to change so much in so little time.” She idly reached down to place the fallen pacifier back into the baby’s mouth.

 

“Yeah, especially a Malfoy,” Ron added, with a grim look on his face.

 

“Yes, well, I really didn’t dwell on it much after they left. But, this morning an owl arrived with a note from Kingsley, asking to meet with me. When he arrived at the house, he told me that a band of wanted death eaters heard Cissy and Draco attended the funeral and felt they behaved inappropriately for a family of dark wizards. They showed their disapproval by attacking Malfoy Manor, late last night. Cissy and Draco were able to escape unharmed by use of an emergency portkey, but their home was destroyed.”

 

“But, how were they able to find the Manor?” Harry asked. “Wasn’t it hidden under a fidelius or some other security charm?”

 

“I asked Kingsley the same thing. He explained to me that the dark marks on the death eaters arms bound them to one another in many different ways. Not only could they use them to transport themselves to wherever Voldemort was, but they could also transport themselves to other destinations he had set up like safe houses. Each death eater’s home was linked to this safe-house network. That way if a death eater had to escape quickly for whatever reason, he didn’t need to concentrate on the destination. He only needed to touch the mark with a finger and say the name of the house. He would be transported there instantly; even if he had lost his wand.”

 

“Wow, Tom was purely evil, but he was also purely genius,” Ron stated, shaking his head in disbelief. “Too bad he didn’t work for our side.”

 

“So, the death eaters were able to enter the Malfoy’s home by using their dark marks,” Hermione reiterated, slowly returning to her normal demeanor.

 

“Yes, that’s what the Aurors think,” answered Andromeda.

 

“But, I would think the network would have stopped working after Tom’s death,” she reasoned. Everyone looked to Andromeda for an explanation.

 

“Apparently, Lucius warned Cissy there was a chance the network could remain intact, even after Tom’s death. He begged her to move to another home, just in case. But she felt she didn’t have anywhere to go and wasn’t eager to give up her home and belongings.”

 

“So, if they move to a new location a fidelius would work properly, even against any remaining death eaters, right?” asked Harry.

 

“That’s what Lucius told them. But, it will take a while for them to find a new location and place the necessary security around it. Meanwhile, Cissy and Draco will need a place to stay.”

 

“Wait. She didn’t ask you to shelter them, did she? Not after the way she and her family have treated you all these years? I mean, you’re the exact type of person the death eaters despise the most. You betrayed your family by marrying a muggle-born. Your daughter was an auror who hunted death eaters. She married a werewolf and you are now raising their son. Do you know how much hate Draco must feel toward someone like Teddy; the son of a ‘half-blood’ auror and a werewolf? I’m sorry, but I don’t like the idea of exposing Teddy to the kind of hatred I’ve seen Malfoy display.” Harry’s lips were drawn into a tight line and his fists were clenched. He had grown very tense rather quickly.

 

Ginny had sensed this and placed her hand on his arm, in hopes of defusing his anger a little. She did not expect his reaction to be so dramatic. Almost at once, Harry felt a rush of calmness seep into his body. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. As he exhaled, the tension in his body subsided. He opened his eyes and immediately apologized to Andromeda.

 

“I’m sorry, I just…I still don’t trust Malfoy and I’m having a hard time thinking of him near Teddy for any length of time.”

 

“It’s alright, Harry. I understand. You’ve seen first hand the awful things Draco has done. I’m sure you all feel the same way about him, having had to deal with him and his friends at Hogwart’s.”

 

“So, did you agree to take them in?” Harry asked, already guessing the answer.

 

“Yes, I did. I don’t expect you to understand, but I will try to explain the reasoning behind my decision. I have lost so much in such a short period of time. It has taught me how short life is and what a waste of time it is to hold grudges. It has become very clear to me what is important in life.” She stopped to smile down at the sleeping infant. “For me, family is the most important thing in the world, right now. And, even though they haven’t treated me well in the past, I feel this is the right thing to do. I keep asking myself ‘if I desert them now, aren’t I treating them as they treated me all those years?’ So, I am choosing to stop the cycle of hatred and desertion. I am choosing to act kindly to them because that is how I wish I had been treated. But, most importantly, if I want to raise Teddy to be a compassionate and caring wizard, I have to teach him by example; treat others as you want to be treated. He may be too young to understand it now, but when he is old enough to ask questions, I will be able to tell him what I did and hopefully he will learn something from it then.” She bent down and lifted Teddy into her arms.

 

 “But, I agree with you about Teddy, Harry; he shouldn’t have to suffer because of this. That is why I am asking you to take care of him for me, just for a couple of weeks. My sister should be able to find a new home by then and have the necessary protection placed on it.” Everyone looked at Harry, waiting for his answer.

 

“I’m sorry, I should’ve realized you wouldn’t put Teddy in that sort of situation.” He now understood why Mrs. Tonks was going to help two selfish, arrogant people who, until very recently, were full of hatred for anyone different from them. He didn’t like the idea any better, but he understood. “Of course I will take care of  Teddy. It’s just, well, I don’t know anything about taking care of a baby,” Harry admitted.

 

“Well, I don’t think you will be doing this alone. Something tells me your friends will be here to help you and you will have Molly, as well. She can answer your questions and explain what needs explaining,” Andromeda assured him.

 

“Hmm…you make it sound so easy. I’m sure there’s a catch somewhere.” Harry grinned at her. Truthfully, he was delighted to have an opportunity to spend time with his godson, although he still wasn’t entirely comfortable with Andromeda providing the Malfoys shelter.

 

“Will you be adding extra protection to your house? I mean, the death eaters could still be after the Malfoys. I could help you, if you like. And, shouldn’t the Ministry station a few aurors on your property, just in case?”

 

“Well, Kingsley and Arthur are coming over soon to set up a fidelius for me and we will be shutting off the fireplace from the floo network, for added protection. And, Kingsley insisted on sending aurors to guard the house, just like you suggested.”  She smiled at Harry. “You’ve really got a knack for this auror thing. You remind me of  Dora when she was your age.”

 

Harry was flattered and blushed slightly at the compliment, “Thanks. I’m glad Kingsley and Mr. Weasley are helping you. I feel a bit better about the whole thing. And don’t forget, you can reach us by patronus, if you need us. We can have Mr. Weasley bring us to you straight away.” Everyone nodded their heads in agreement.

 

Andromeda was touched. “Thank you. It means a lot to know I have all of your support.” A tear slid down her cheek and she quickly brushed it away. She bent down and gave Teddy a kiss on his forehead.

 

“I will miss this little one very much.” She rocked him in her arms as she cooed sweet words into his ear. “I have only known him for a month, but already he has captured my heart. He fills up the hole that Ted and Dora left behind.” Everyone was silent for a while, thinking of those that had lost their lives.

 

“Well, I suppose I should go get Teddy’s things packed, now,” she said after a few minutes. She stood and handed the baby carefully over to Harry. “That’s right. Cradle his neck with your arm like that.” Harry smiled as he held the bundle cautiously.

 

After Andromeda left, everyone began discussing the news, except Harry. He slowly walked out of the kitchen and into the den. He wanted some time alone with Teddy. He sat down with his godson and took a good look at him.

 

“Hello, Teddy. I’m Harry. I’m sorry I haven’t spent any time with you since you were born. My life is just starting to settle down. But, now that you’ll be staying with me for a couple of weeks, we should be good friends by the time you go back home.” Harry began telling Teddy about his parents and how much they loved him. He explained how they died so he could live in a better world and how lucky he was to have his grandmum to look after him. Harry was glad that Teddy wouldn’t have the same kind of childhood he did. He would be raised by people who loved him. He would know the truth about his parents and who he was. Things are going to be a lot different for you than they were for me, little buddy. You’re going to feel loved everyday of your life. By this time, Teddy had fallen into a peaceful sleep. Harry took him over to his baby seat and carefully lowered him into it.

 

Ginny came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist, peaking around his shoulder to look at the baby. “Not bad, Potter. You’re better at this baby thing than I thought you’d be,” she teased. Harry grinned back at her.

 

Just then, Andromeda returned with a trunk full of Teddy’s necessities. It was packed with baby clothes, blankets, bottles, formula, diapers and wipes and a few toys. She also had the bassinette and stroller shrunk to fit inside it.

 

“Blimey! Exactly how many babies is Harry going to be taking care of?” joked Ron, peering inside the trunk.

 

Andromeda smiled. “It takes a lot to keep a baby content,” she explained. Here let me show you what everything is. She took out her list and proceeded to go over all the details with Harry and the others. She went over Teddy’s feeding schedule, his sleeping patterns, what his different cries meant, how and when to give him a bath and, most importantly, the spell for changing diapers. “There is also a spell Molly can show you to keep whatever he is in, rocking magically. Never leave him unattended unless he is in his bassinette or baby carrier. If you bring him into bed with you at night make sure he is not near the edge. Oh, and always have him sleep on his back.” She paused to look over the list.

 

“Oh, I’m sure there are many things I’ve forgotten, but Molly and Arthur will be here to help. How is she doing, by the way? I’m afraid I have been too distracted by all this to be a very good friend to her, since she’s been in hospital.”

 

“She’ll understand. We’ll tell her everything when she comes home. She’s doing a lot better and with more rest and therapy, I think she’ll be fine,” answered Ginny.

 

“Good, I’m glad. OK, I guess I’m off, then. Kingsley and Arthur are going to meet me at the house in a few minutes. Since you won’t be able to reach me by floo, just send a patronus if you need me. Otherwise, I will keep Arthur updated, regularly.” She bent down to give Teddy a final kiss goodbye, hugged Harry and rushed to the fireplace, where she was gone in a flash.

 

“Well, this wasn’t how I imagined the day to turn out,” Ginny mused out loud.

 

“Yeah, so much for a ‘normal’ day, huh?” asked Harry, smiling down at his godson.

 

“Something tells me you don’t mind this turn of events much, though,” Hermione said.

 

“No, not this time. This is the kind of event I can deal with. Thanks for helping out, you guys. Between the four of us, we should manage fine, eh?”

 

“Don’t worry Harry, everything will be fine,” Hermione assured him. They stood staring at Teddy’s sleeping form for a few more minutes before carrying on with the business of readying the house for Mrs. Weasley’s return.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Arthur, would you please stop fussing over me so! For the last time, I’m fine!” It was early morning and Mrs. Weasley's voice could be heard echoing throughout the lobby of St. Mungo’s. She was chastising her husband as he tried to keep her seated in a wheelchair. Apparently, it was hospital policy for all patients to be escorted to the exit fireplaces, in this manner. Needless to say, she was not happy about the protocol and was letting everyone know it.

 

“Well, at least it’s a good sign that she’s back to her old self,” George murmured, making sure to keep a healthy distance between himself and his mum.

 

“Dear, please. Let the staff do their job. You can fuss all you want once we’re home. But, let’s get there first, please,” Arthur pleaded, as he tried to pull her down into the seat for the 5th time. “The faster you cooperate, the faster you’ll be sitting in your kitchen, surrounded by your family.”

 

That seemed to grab her attention. She looked at him with her eyes narrowed and her lips pursed. “Fine,” she hissed, then grabbed hold of the armrest and abruptly sat down in the wheelchair. “Happy, now?” she asked with a fake smile plastered on her face.

 

Arthur knew he’d pay for this later. He only hoped that she’d be so happy once she was home that she would mercifully let the incident slide. Truth be told, he was just as anxious to get home as Molly. He had spent yesterday afternoon laying down the foundations for the fidelius charm, with Kingsley and a few aurors. And, he had readily agreed to be the secret keeper. The only problem was he hadn’t found the right time to tell Molly about any of this, yet. He knew she would understand, but she would also be very worried. He wasn’t sure it was a good idea to get her anxieties up so soon after her breakdown. He didn’t want anything to impede her rate of recovery.

 

He didn’t have much time to dwell on it though, as the next minute they found themselves in the kitchen of their comfortable old home. The place was scrubbed clean and everything was neatly put away, yet the eclectic coziness that was the Burrow, remained very much intact and Molly felt at peace, as soon as she arrived.

 

“Mum!” It was Ginny who ran to them first, engulfing both her parents in a huge hug.

 

“Welcome home!” everyone shouted together from behind Ginny.

 

“Oh, it’s so good to be home,” she exclaimed. “Let me get a good look around. It feels like a lot longer than two days since I was last here. You did such a wonderful job cleaning up.” 

Her eyes eventually came to rest on the kitchen. Arthur and Percy had found time to replace the shattered cabinets. And, Hermione was able to charm them to look worn-in so they blended well with the old cabinets. “Thank you,” she whispered as her eyes came to rest on the spot where she stood when her own curse rebounded upon her that day; the curse that was intended for Harry. Her eyes began to cloud up and her jaw started to tremble at the memory. She still couldn’t believe what she almost did. Just then an unfamiliar sound brought her out of her thoughts and back to the present.

 

“Was that a baby I just heard?” She spun around to see Teddy nestled in Harry’s arms. Every few seconds a tiny hiccup escaped from his mouth. Apparently, she hadn’t noticed him when she first arrived.

 

“Yeah, I hope it’s alright. Andromeda asked me to take care of Teddy for her, for a little while.” Harry looked at Molly apprehensively.

 

“Alright? Of course, it’s alright. Now, bring that boy over to me. He sounds like he needs a good burping.” She bustled over to the sofa and held her arms out, expectantly. She deftly placed him over her shoulder and patted his back in a soothing manner, cooing to him softly, as she went along. Everyone gathered around the matriarch of the family and watched as she went about her business, content to be part of the scenery.

 

Only after she was satisfied that the hiccups were gone for good, she turned to Harry and asked why Andromeda needed Harry to look after Teddy.

 

Harry felt at a little uncomfortable explaining everything to Mrs. Weasley. He shifted in his seat and looked to Ginny, Ron and Hermione for help. They just stared back at him as if to say, ‘Sorry mate. This one’s on you’. Harry rolled his eyes at them and turned back to face Mrs. Weasley.

 

“Well, you see,” he began, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand. “Andromeda stopped by this morning and it seems that she will be having, um…company for a while and doesn’t want Teddy around while they’re there.” He hoped she wouldn’t get too upset when he told her who that company was.

 

“Well, that sounds strange. Just who is this company, anyway?” she asked, her brow furrowed with concern.

 

“Do you remember seeing Narcissa and Draco at Remus and Tonks’ funeral?” He smiled nervously. “Well, apparently Narcissa spoke with Andromeda afterwards and tried to make some sort of amends with her for the way her family has treated her over the years. Then, just this morning, she got news of Malfoy Manor being attacked during the night.” He proceeded to quikly fill her in on how the manor was destroyed and Andromeda offered her home as a temporary shelter for her estranged sister and nephew.

 

Mrs. Weasley looked shocked, but to her credit, didn’t get hysterical like Harry feared she would. When he finished his part of the story, Arthur added his news of being Andromeda’s secret keeper. Everyone was bracing themselves for the yelling to begin and the curses to fly. This would surely put her over the top.

 

But, nothing like that happened. Molly let out a deep sigh and shook her head sadly. “Well, I am surprised by the nerve of that woman to ask Andromeda to take her and her son in, just like that. Andromeda seems to be a much more forgiving woman than I am. She is strong; I’m sure she will get through this. And, of course, we will do everything we can to help her.  And, we’ll start by taking care of this precious baby boy. Just look at how beautiful he is.” Everyone smiled at him cradled in Mrs. Weasley's arms.

 

"And, Arthur, I'm glad you're the secret keeper. Andromeda trusts you and this will make her feel safer." Arthur was pleasantly surprised by his wife's reaciton to all the news. He walked over and gave her a hug, careful not to disturb the baby. “What was that for?” asked Molly, surprised by his gesture.

 

“I’m just glad you’re home, dear. That’s all.” He smiled down at her, grateful that she was handling everything so well.

 

“Well, I’m glad I’m home, too. It looks like I returned not a moment too soon, either. I’m going to need to start teaching Harry how to take care of this child, right away.” So, she spent the next hour happily showing the four teenagers the basics of how to care for an infant. George and Percy had successfully snuck off before she began. They both had plenty of experience dealing with their younger siblings when they were babies and didn’t feel the need to go through infant care 101 again, no matter how happy it was making their mum.

 

All in all, it was a nice way for Molly to transition from hospital to home. Everyone could see that her healing process had truly begun that day.

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