Deeper than the Mirror
There were many orphans the year Teddy Remus Lupin started Hogwarts, and he preferred to favour their grief to his own. It was easier to deliver a friendly slap on the back, or to launch some fireworks through the common room than to think about his own losses. Not that he remembered anything, anyway. Some of the others would huddle by the fireplace and trade photos of beaming and waving relatives, offering tidbits of their vaguest memories (“my mother died in the last battle, right after buying me my favourite toy” or “my cousin hugged me a few days before he bravely fought Death Eaters” were the usual boasts).
Ted never joined them in their cluster of chairs, choosing instead to escape into the dim corridors with a mass of dark knots hanging around his face. That wasn’t his usual hair colour – normally a shock of periwinkle hair floating and darting through the maze of other heads announced his presence. He didn’t care that all eyes were immediately glued to his features, easily recognising him no matter what shape he had forced his face into.
Someone, probably his godfather, had once told him how his mother was a Metamorphagus, but the word meant little to him coming from friends or textbooks. If pressed to think about it, Ted would probably label it as meaning he would never know if he looked like his father or his mother. But that was too personal a loss to mention to anyone else.
In second year, he started lagging behind the crowds of students leaving classrooms, not bothering to keep eye contact or throw out some meaningless greeting. This only opened him to other forms of attack, as leaving Herbology one morning in the wisps of chills that had failed to be swept away by spring, Professor Longbottom thought it absolutely necessary to tell Ted that his father was the best Professor any third year could have had.
The wince never broke his cool expression and Ted merely answered his thanks in what he hoped was a polite tone. He couldn’t quite keep the shake from his voice, much to his disgust.
In a school where unity and the sharing of grief and burdens, that sort of crap, were strongly encouraged, he increasingly became “the loner”, rarely speaking to anyone, not even those in his own house of Gryffindor. The teachers tried to get him to speak, but they conceded after a while that not even being asked questions in class could break his silence.
The Christmas trips home and the dinners at his godfather’s house became quieter as Ted began to withdraw from conversations there. The nights that he had spent sharing a Butterbeer and nonsensical phrases with Harry were long gone, and good riddance in Ted’s opinion.
Lying hidden in the dark guest room while listening to the faint sounds of the Potters trying to wrestle their children into bed, Ted tried to swallow a bitter lump of envy welling in his throat. The house fell quiet at last, and he allowed his eyes to close to the suddenly ominous shadows approaching from the corners of the room. His heart jumped with both panic and relief as the door creaked open and a weight pressed to the end of the bed.
“Save it,” Ted croaked when he could, seeing his godfather’s silhouette emerging from the darkness. “I get enough of the sharing and caring at school.”
He could almost imagine Harry’s eyebrows raised at him. “That’s not what I hear, Ted.”
Groaning, Ted turned his back to his godfather and grimaced against the wall. Waiting for Harry to leave and give up, as most adults seemed to do around him these days, he tried desperately to distract himself by following the grain of the paint with his eyes.
The silence awkwardly clambered on until Harry said softly, “It’s alright to miss them.”
“I don’t have any right to miss them,” Ted said shortly, inwardly cursing the words as soon as they’d left his lips.
“You don’t think I wished I’d known my own parents? I missed them in my own way – and just because some other people lost their parents when they could remember them doesn’t give them more of a right to be upset.”
Ted scowled. “You didn’t have to put up with people gushing about their parents and how they used to tuck them in, and that’s the best memory they have, or something.”
“No,” agreed Harry, “But you can’t see your mum or your dad in the mirror, and I doubt anyone at school will ever understand that, unless you let them.”
Biting his lip in surprise, Ted rolled over to prop his head up on his hand, digging his elbow into the soft pillow. Regarding what he could see of his godfather’s face through the gloom, he realised with a lurch in the pit of his stomach that that someone knew his game, and maybe even understand a little. He muttered, “I wish I wasn’t a Metamorphagus. You were lucky to look like your Dad.”
A light blinked on the end of Harry’s wand, causing Ted to shield his eyes briefly. When he moved his fingers away from his eyes, he saw one of the framed moving pictures from the mantelpiece downstairs. It was one he’d seen a million times when visiting, but he’d stopped really looking at it for a while. Seeing himself at the age of four grasping the hand of his godfather, forever tugging insistently to drag Harry out of the frame, he wondered if that was what he was supposed to look like.
“Yes,” Harry said softly to the unspoken question, “That was before you started changing your face, although quite a bit after your hair and eyes started confusing me...” he chuckled a little, “You’ve seen some pictures of Remus…”
Pulling out a small photo from the pocket of his jeans, Harry slipped it over the glass of the photo frame, revealing a small boy patiently paging through a book, oblivious to the onlookers in a different time. Ted found another sort of lump forming in his throat, but this time his stomach warmed as he took the photo in his hands.
“That’s my Dad…isn’t it?” he murmured, “I haven’t seen this before.”
Harry smiled. “An old friend who gave me photos of my parents when I was a bit younger than you. And, if I remember correctly, some fuss was made about your first eye colour looking like your grandmother’s – she still does. But Teddy, you are a lot like your parents deep down, and that’s something you can’t see in a mirror.”
“I hope Sirius never said corny stuff like that to you.”
“Actually…” Harry laughed.
Ted frowned before asking flatly, “And how am I supposed to deal with everyone at school?”
“Just tell them that your father taught the great Harry Potter how to cast a Patronus Charm,” his godfather offered, green eyes twinkling, “And that he was…”
“Yeah, I know, he was the best Professor a third year could ever ask for.” A roll of Teddy’s eyes accompanied this.
Harry patted his shoulder briefly before easing off the bed, dousing the light on his wand and grasping the door knob. Just as he was about to disappear down the hallway, Ted called, “Harry – thanks.”
“Now that wasn’t so bad for sharing and caring, was it?”
Ted rested his hands behind his head and gazed up at the ceiling, absently stroking his now light brown hair. After a few moments, he padded across to the bathroom and gazed in the mirror, smiling broadly back at himself. He would be better, he promised silently to his parents, he would make them proud…