The Potter boys didn’t realize how lucky they had it. Their house was so full – of noise, of light, of movement, of love. And they took it all for granted. But Teddy didn’t. He couldn’t. Not when his own home, that he shared with Granna, was so completely different: still and silent and dimmer somehow, though the sun shone in just the same. And there was still love at Granna’s, but it didn’t overflow like at Harry’s. It was quieter, calmer, not as obvious. But still there.
He loved his Granna; of course he did. And he knew she loved him, too – he was all she had left in the world; she's told him that before. But he knew, too, that she was an awful lot of broken, and sometimes, he felt that the only thing keeping her pieces held together was the ten-year-old boy she’d been given to care for, back when he was a baby, back when he hadn’t had anyone either, back when his godfather was all the god part and none of the father part because he was only seventeen and didn’t know how to be.
Sometimes, Teddy thought his Granna was grateful he was around, to be the reason her pieces stayed together. And other times, he was convinced she hated him for it, that she wished she could just fall apart and be done with it all, angry that he was the only thing standing in the way.
Those were the times he hated his mum and dad the most.
Teddy Lupin’s hatred for his parents was like a hot, hard ball that always lived in the pit of his stomach, sometimes bigger and sometimes smaller, but never not there. He hadn’t always hated them; when he was little and didn’t know any better, he’d even loved them, thought of them as heroes, believed every good thing anyone had ever told him about Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin. But then he’d learned that his parents had chosen their deaths, their deaths over his life, because his mother had only had him five days before and shouldn’t have been anywhere but in bed, but she went off to fight instead of choosing to be a mother. They hadn’t been ordered to the battle, they hadn’t been needed, they hadn’t made a difference. They’d just died. They’d died and broken Granna into all those little pieces, and they’d left him behind to be an orphan for the rest of his life.
Teddy hated hearing them called heroes, and he hated hearing them called parents, too, because they weren’t. They’d given up being the second to try and be the first, but they’d gotten killed before they could do one single, heroic thing, and Teddy hated them for it. That woman named Tonks had thought so little of him that she had died rather than be his mother, so why shouldn’t he think just as little of her? Why on earth should he call her his mother, when it was so clear she hadn’t wanted to be?
He didn’t tell anybody about these feelings, though. He knew it would make the pieces inside Granna crack apart a little bit more, and it would make Harry wear his sad, hurt look, and Teddy loved them both too much to tell them how much he hated Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin. So every time someone called them ‘hero’ or talked about how proud he should be of his mum and dad, Teddy just took the anger and pushed it down and added it to the ball that was always sitting in his stomach.
The older he got, the more he came to realize that most boys his age didn’t carry about balls like that. Most boys his age weren’t that angry all the time. But then, most boys his age had a real family and a mother and father they could love, not the strange, cobbled together version of a family that Teddy had.
He lived mostly with Granna, but the third week of every month and every other weekend, he spent at Harry’s. He had his own bedroom, which he was allowed to decorate however he wanted, and he had his own towel and his own place at the table, and it was so close to being like his home, but it wasn’t. He knew it wasn't. No matter how hard he and Harry and Ginny tried, they weren’t his parents and they never would be. They had their own sons who were there all the time, not just eleven days out of every month, and no matter how hard he wanted it, Teddy just didn’t fit all the way into that house and that life. There was too much noise and too much movement, and it was like a whirlwind, and though he couldn’t help but get caught up in it and carried off by it, he could never truly become part of it. He just didn’t know how, and he just didn’t fit.
And it was the same at Granna’s, only opposite, because if he moved too fast or spoke too loud there, he knew he was bound to break something. So he tiptoed around and lowered his voice and wished he was at Harry’s. And then he'd get to Harry’s and get pushed and pulled in one direction or another and wish he was at Granna’s. And he knew it was his missing parents who made it so he couldn’t fit anywhere, and he hated Nymphadora and Remus a little bit more.
He wanted so desperately for Hogwarts to be where he could carve a Teddy Lupin shaped hole to put himself into, his place where he could fit perfectly, but the closer he got to going, the more sure he became that his parents were going to be hanging over his head his whole life.
Everyone was full of advice – to be himself, to make friends, to not be nervous about his house or his classes – and Teddy got to the point where he thought if he heard one more person tell him about his clumsy but fun-loving and loyal Hufflepuff mother or his courageous and quietly wise Gryffindor father, he was going to scream.
The morning he was supposed to leave for Hogwarts, his Granna had an appointment she couldn't get out of, so his choice was getting to the station an hour early or letting Harry take him. And he thought about it for a long time, he really did, but something inside of him couldn’t stand the noise and commotion and flurry of craziness that would have happened if Harry had taken him, with little James and Al and baby Lily in tow. He knew he'd never be anything but the boy Harry Potter put on the train if he let his godfather take him, so he chose to get there an hour early.
“Are you sure?” Granna asked the day before, and Teddy nodded. He didn’t tell her it was because he wanted the anonymity, because he didn’t want everyone staring at him. He let her think it was because he wanted her to be the one he said his last goodbye to, because that was part of it, too. It just wasn't all of it.
So he got to the station an hour early and he said his goodbyes to Granna and he picked one of a million empty compartments (since he was the only one there) and opened up a book. He liked books and he liked reading, but he was too busy thinking of all the ways he could reinvent himself at Hogwarts, where no one knew him and he could be whoever he wanted to focus much on this one.
He’d been on the train for a half an hour when the other students started to arrive, and when a boy his age poked his head into the compartment and introduced himself as “Jack Fawcett,” Teddy was very deliberate about introducing himself as “Ted Lupin,” his mind already spinning a friendship and images and ideas about who this new Ted Lupin was going to be.
All of which was shot to pieces when recognition lit up in Jack Fawcett’s face at Teddy’s last name. “Lupin?” he said curiously. “Like, Professor Lupin? My aunt talks about your dad – says he was the best teacher she ever had at Hogwarts! And, say, isn’t Harry Potter your godfather? Did he bring you today? I’ve seen his picture in the Prophet, and my parents tell stories – but I’ll bet you know them all, right?”
And long before the end of this speech, Teddy’s look was black and the anger was back fiercer than ever, and with a short and rude, “I’m saving this compartment for someone,” he practically shut the door on Jack Fawcett’s toes.
He though it was his black look that kept anyone else from sitting with him, and it partially was, but it was also that Jack Fawcett went around telling people that Ted Lupin in the third compartment from the end was not very friendly and kind of mean, and so Teddy spent the whole ride to Hogwarts in solitude, his anger burning and bubbling and very close to boiling over.
And it did boil over when his name was called to be Sorted.
Because all of a sudden, there was whispering, and he didn't know what they were saying, but was enough that they were whispering because they were whispering about him. These people who didn’t know him. Who didn’t know his life and his situation and who he was or who he could be. It was enough that they were probably whispering about Granna and Harry and Remus and Nymphadora, and he couldn’t stand it, he really couldn’t.
When the Sorting Hat was placed on his head, Teddy Lupin was so full of anger and rage that he cut off the Hat before it could say anything, as Harry and Ginny both told him it would.
I don’t want to hear a word about my mother or my father or my godfather or anyone, he thought furiously. Sort me and me alone, you stupid Hat, because that’s all that should matter, got it?
And without a single word spoken inside Teddy Lupin’s head, the Hat shouted “SLYTHERIN!” and Teddy barely let it finish the word before yanking it off his head and stalking down to the Slytherin table. He could hear muttering, but he didn't care. The people at Hogwarts could think what they wanted. Teddy wasn’t there to please anyone. Teddy wasn’t there to make friends. He was there because he had to be. And honestly, if his choices were between being a Gryffindor like his dad and godfather, a Hufflepuff like his mother, or a Slytherin like his grandmother, well. He'd choose Gran every time.
And as he slid into his seat, glaring defiantly at anyone who dared to meet his gaze, he thought that maybe, if everyone was so shocked by him, so surprised by him, then maybe for once, everyone would just leave him alone.