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Reposting my RS_Games fic!

Title: Where the Heart Is
Rating: PG
Pairing/Characters: Remus/Sirius, Teddy *highlight for spoilers* (/Benjamin. In my defence, James is 12.)
Word Count: 1,629 words
Summary: Teddy moves out, discovers a letter from his father, and comes to a realisation.
Notes: This was written for the 2011 [livejournal.com profile] rs_games (Team Remus!). I'm just going to go ahead and apologise to any TiRN readers in advance for the last line. Ta, Georgie, for helping me through this at the last minute--'Are you crazy?!
Prompt: 27 Lyrics from Laura Marling's Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)


Teddy looks around at the mountains of boxes on the floor of his new flat and sighs. He’s hungry now—properly hungry--but he’s also too intimidated to make his way into the dark, bitterly cold London streets below to navigate not only unfamiliar muggle shops but also baffling muggle currency.

Instead, he sits quietly on the narrow window ledge and listens to the wind howling. The chill is bone-deep, even inside, and Teddy shivers. He knows that he should see to the dwindling fire or at least do a proper warming charm, but he can’t bring himself to get up and find his wand in the clutter. It’s reached the unfortunate, inevitable point where there are so many things to be done that Teddy, overwhelmed, is managing to do nothing. He’s been holed up by the window for nearly an hour now, unsure of what he’s waiting for—a sign, perhaps, to keep unpacking or someone to come and help him. But no one comes.

Teddy chews his thumbnail, watching a man in a long black overcoat until he turns the corner, before resolving to do something. He’s only hurting himself with this restless, anxious inertia. There will be twice as much to do in the morning, and he has to be up early for work on Monday. Turning away from the window at last, Teddy eyes the oldest-looking set of boxes in the corner. When he’d been packing up, his Grandmother had told him that the boxes that had always been piled neatly against the far wall in her attic—the boxes full of his parents’ things—belonged to him.

So now they are in a pile in his new living room. Most have not been opened in seventeen years. Teddy stands in front of them, torn between wanting to tear through every box immediately and wanting to hide them away for another seventeen years.

When Teddy had first been offered the position in Regulation and Control after graduation, he had still been living in his Grandmother’s house in Oxfordshire. He had resolved to stay. He didn’t want to move out and leave her with an empty house full of memories. He wanted to be there when she needed him, to make sure that someone was there to do the washing up when she was tired or to lift something heavy or to make her a cup of tea.

But Andromeda, always brave beyond Teddy’s wildest imaginings, had all but forced him out the door. It wasn’t that she didn’t want him, Teddy knew. It was that she wanted him to have a chance at a life.

Alone in the flat now, in front of the boxes, the thought of Andromeda threatens to choke him. He’s not sure why he feels so oppressively lonely now; maybe it’s the simple fact that he’s on his own for the first time or the fact that the cold weather has him nestled up here by himself. Maybe it’s these particular boxes.

Maybe it’s the nagging idea in the back of his mind that he doesn’t have to be alone at all. This thought sends panic immediately shooting through Teddy’s chest, and he takes a step closer to the boxes just to have something else on which to focus.

His hands find a small box somewhere near the middle of the pile. It says “Remus” in what Teddy recognises as his Grandmother’s neat script, and he opens it quickly without stopping to doubt himself.

The first thing that catches his eye is a small gold pin, familiar and unfamiliar all at once. Though tarnished at the edges, the scarlet P and proud Gryffindor lion on its face are unmistakable. It looks so like Teddy’s own prefect badge—but with some deliberate changes: a more medieval-looking animal, a distinct font, a different shade of deep red. Teddy blinks against the pricking sensation at the back of his eyes, dumbstruck by the tiny piece of his father resting in the centre of his palm. He turns the badge over in his hand. Scratched into the back in miniscule handwriting are the words: “Moony is a good boy.” Teddy smiles in spite of himself.

Next, Teddy finds his fingers closing around an unmarked envelope. He breaks the seal very slowly, delicately, making sure not to tear. Withdrawing aged parchment, he feels his heart beating fast.

Teddy unfolds it and reads.

***


Dear Sirius,

He’s beautiful.

He’s beautiful, and I wish you were here to see him.

I held him in my arms, and I was crying into his hair before I knew what I was doing. His turquoise hair. And then his brown hair. He’s a metamorphmagus, too.

You used to joke about our canine sense of smell, remember? But he’s not—He won’t be like me. I mean, he’s human. I could tell right away. And he’s so small, Sirius. He grabbed onto my finger so tightly, and he’s just so impossibly small.

And the world out there is too big. It’s too terrifying and too cruel, and I have to fight. We’ve been fighting for so long, but now I can’t lose.

I would die for him. And you know what we’re facing. There’s not point lying to you, not now--I might die for him.

But I’ll do it gladly. I’ll do it the way that Lily and James did, because he deserves a better world than this.

They wrapped him in a little patchwork quilt that Andromeda made. All I could think of was our flat and that first winter after school.

Do you remember how cold it was that winter? I was always and forever wrapped in that old, red scarf, and I’d come home and you’d unwrap me. And there we were, thinking that after seven years in Scotland, London would be paradise. It snowed all winter.

We were so young. You’d hold my hand when we were walking through the park, and I would blush all the way up my neck. I was always hoping you’d think it was the cold, but you’d smile that wicked smile from behind the collar of that sleek black pea coat you had and kiss me behind the ear and I’d blush more.

We were too young. And I was so scared. I would be sleeping on the frozen ground with Greyback’s pack, just dreaming of you. And nothing. They’d bloody me and send me home, and you’d heal me, just like always. But they never listened. You’d go on missions with James, and I’d stay up all night, drinking tea and watching the clock, praying that you’d come back to me safely. Until now, I’d forgotten what it felt like to be that scared—to have that much at stake.

Even then, even in the middle of a war that looked like it would rip our world apart, I slept more soundly under that patchwork comforter with your arms around me than I had ever done in my life.

God, Sirius, I can’t help myself. I wish it had been us. It should have been our little cottage somewhere with our little son sleeping in your arms.

***


Teddy finds himself crying. He sits there in the semi-darkness, the only light coming from the streetlights outside, with tears running unchecked down his face.

Teddy had known about this--about Sirius. There had been whispered conversations and pointed looks that he’d been old enough to understand. He had always thought of it as something painful, something that gave lie to the fairy tale story he’d created as a child about the parents he’d never known. He had wanted that story so badly—had needed it—so he had pushed the burden of that knowledge out of his mind, tried not to think about it. He never talked about. It became like a shameful secret.

But this letter is something else entirely, something Teddy hadn’t even considered. It’s proof that sometimes a thing is no less beautiful for being a bit complicated, and it tugs at something in his chest.

Teddy wipes his eyes to clear his vision, shakes his head once, and reads the end of the letter.

***


Enough. Enough now. I have to let it go, Sirius, because if I don’t, I’ll go mad. It haunts me. It more than haunts me. It’s in front of my eyes all the time—I’ve done things that I’m not proud of, because I couldn’t see for all the memories.

When this letter is finished, I’m going to burn it.

But I want you to know that my heart belongs to you.

And when I’m buried beneath that snow—that terrible English snow—it will still be yours.

And as for my son…my beautiful son. I hope he will be strong, for us. I hope he will be brave, for us. Most of all, though, I hope he will be happy. For us.

I solemnly swear. Always,

Your Moony.


***


Teddy folds the letter, crosses to the window ledge once more, and presses his forehead to the frozen glass pane. On the street below, passersby pull their coats more tightly around them and bow their heads against the wind.

It’s snowing.

And it’s as though something inside Teddy has snapped, and he doesn’t care if it’s clichéd that his dead father’s courage has given him courage.

He’s ready to admit who he is.

Teddy is on his feet before he can second guess himself. He squares his shoulders and drops a handful of floo powder into the fireplace. The green light fills his cold, empty flat for a moment and then he is gone.

Tumbling out into the warm glow of another flat, Teddy finds Benjamin and finally--finally--kisses him back.

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