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Chapter 157: Captive
Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Seven
Remus emerged from his state of unconsciousness not knowing what to think first. Had it been a full moon? No, it couldn’t have been, he just had one a week or so ago.
But what on earth was that musty, stale smell rank with pale rot? And what were these weights pinning his ankles? They felt as heavy as iron. And why was he lying on something so hard and cold, earthy and stone-like? And why did his whole body ache, especially his jaw, and his head, and his right arm, where it felt like it’d been ripped at the skin repeatedly?
Then something of what had happened flooded back to him with an increasingly heavy dread in his heart, and he dared to peel open his eyes, touching his left hand to his fevered brow, not trusting to lift his throbbing right arm.
After several blinks, the figure looming above him came into clearer focus, and Nymphadora’s pained eyes met his.
“Remus,” she whispered with a mixture of relief and anxiety, and her gentle hand brushed the bangs out of his hair, her touch soothing amid all of this misery.
“Dora,” he mumbled, and couldn’t help a smile just to see her face—not when he’d felt that he would not be given another moment like this with her. “You…. Are you…hurt anywhere?”
Nymphadora shook her head. “No, no, darling. Just…just where Dolohov hit me, but….”
Remus remembered that too now, and though it felt heavy as lead he lifted his left hand and touched the side of her face where Antonin had struck her. “I’m sorry.”
“’S not your fault.”
“We’ve been taken by Greyback,” Nymphadora reported softly, hopelessly.
“Greyback,” Remus echoed, a little numb.
“He figured out you were Dolohov’s captive—I guess because he’s been selected to be a Snatcher for truant Hogwarts Muggle-born students—and…he wants you for himself. Wants you dead, that is, and didn’t want to let Dolohov have all the fun. They dueled but Greyback outmatched him and the other werewolves overtook the other Death Eaters and…that’s when they grabbed us.”
“Of course. God, who doesn’t want us dead, these days?”
Nymphadora managed a feeble chuckle. “One of life’s ugly truths, love.”
Remus decided to push to the back of his mind the fact of their capture—clearly they were locked up in a barred cavern cell in the caves back up in Scotland—and attend to different matters. “What’s wrong with my arm?”
“The cuts from Dolohov’s silver knife,” Nymphadora reminded him, and Remus could hear his wife trying to keep her voice steady.
Gingerly Nymphadora touched the healing scars with the feather-light touch of her fingers. “I thought I’d die…how terribly you were screaming…I could hardly bear it….” The rest of her words were choked into her throat and she swallowed hard.
Remus lifted his head and looked down the length of his silver-scarred arm, at the angry lines of red that now crisscrossed the pale flesh. “They don’t look infected though, which is good,” he said with a bracing reach for optimism after his brief analysis of the damage.
He let his head fall back on the floor and licked his lips, noticing that his mouth was uncomfortably dry. “Is there any water?”
Nymphadora shook her head and took her hand away from his arm, wiping at the corner of her eyes. Her other hand rested on her stomach, as though she was trying to reassure the growing life within, as if it could sense that all was not well outside the safety of the womb, despite its being no bigger than an olive now.
A yearning to take her in his arms and hold her close, shelter her with the same intention, overwhelmed him, and with a groan he made an attempt to sit up.
“Remus, don’t…” Nymphadora tried to protest, but Remus gently waved her restraining hand away.
“It’s fine, I’m fine,” he assured her, and upon sitting up he did see now that the weight on his ankles was caused by a set of shackles chaining him to the wall.
Nymphadora too had shackles on her ankles, chaining her to the wall as well.
“Come here, love, it’s okay,” he told her, in his softest, gentlest voice, reaching for her.
“No, no it’s not,” she said, like a mantra. “No, it’s not.”
“Come here.” He tugged her towards him and she curled up carefully against him, as though afraid she might hurt him. So that she knew that she wouldn’t, he let her feel the strength still in him as he wrapped her in his arms.
He felt her shiver and press closer, her head tucked underneath his chin.
“We’re going to die here,” she whispered, and he found one of her shaking hands and squeezed it.
“You’re not. Not if I have anything to say about it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Whatever it takes…I’m getting you out of here.”
“But what about—?”
“If I can get out too, then yes…but you…it’s you that has to go on, even if I can’t. You understand, don’t you Dora?”
Nymphadora blinked up at him through her overbright indigo eyes that he adored so much. “For the baby?”
“For the baby.” His loving gaze didn’t leave hers as he reached up and brushed back a few pink locks of her hair. “If it comes to that…love it twice for me. This child is a miracle and…I thought about it…but…surely Fate wouldn’t mock us by giving us a child and then having us all killed, right?”
“I’m not sure what Fate would do,” Nymphadora murmured, burrowing into the hollow of his neck and clutching the tatters of her husband’s robes. “I only know that…no matter what…if I…have to let you….” She took a deep breath, her words coming with difficulty. “If I have to let you go, then I’m ready to face that…and you can bet that I’ll love this baby twice as much for both of us, and do whatever it takes to keep it safe…beyond when this terrible war is over and done with, whatever the outcome.
“But I meant what I said that…at the first…coming so soon…your death would kill me.”
“I know, sweetheart, I know.” Remus rubbed her shoulder and kissed her hair. “As much as your death would kill me, especially if….” He gulped, unable to even voice the idea of their poor baby dying before it had a chance to be born.
But Nymphadora understood. “Whatever it takes, darling. The baby has to come first, and if that means letting you….”
“Let’s not talk of this anymore.” Remus moved from her hair to planting a feverish kiss on her temple, and then her forehead, her brow, her nose, until he reached her lips.
She rose up in his arms in her response, clutching him more desperately, as desperately he clutched her, the two of them kissing each other as if they were both dying and had only one breath left to give.
The barred door to their little cell clanged with its unlocking and creaked open, and the husband and wife broke apart. Holding each other close, they looked up into the cold, murderously victorious eyes of Fenrir Greyback, who carried the smell of sweat, dirt, and blood about him like the heaviest of cloaks. In fact he seemed even sweatier, dirtier, and bloodier than Remus last remembered him.
“Sharing a tender moment, are we?” he taunted, baring his yellowing, brown-stained teeth sharpened to points. “It’s nice to see you savoring your final moments in this mortal coil, my dear friends.”
Remus closed his eyes, wishing he’d had more time to find an escape for Nymphadora, one that would involve her sneaking out, not him begging for her freedom.
But he had no other choice now.
“Fenrir, your quarrel is with me. Do me the courtesy of at least letting my wife go free.”
Fenrir threw back his head like a wolf poised to howl and laughed; the sound itself was horrible, more like a canine’s snuffling than a laugh.
“Like I’d do anything for you, Lupin. After all you’ve done to me? Not to mention, Dolohov had the audacity to keep you all to himself.” The werewolf snorted in disgust. He withdrew two long sticks of wood from within his dirty robes: Remus and Nymphadora’s wands. “I’ve lost all hope of converting you. The best I can do is get you out of my way. But I won’t kill your wife, no….” He snapped his fingers and two of his beta cronies entered.
He pointed. “Take him,” he ordered. And to Remus he added, as the two betas undid his shackles, “No, I’m not going to kill her: I’m going to keep her here, keep her until your little cub is born—yes, I know all about that—and once it is born, then I’ll kill her, and then—assuming it’s born pure—bite your baby and raise it as my own—”
Remus could hardly speak for the sudden upsurge of rage, stopped up in his throat, but Nymphadora was much more vocal.
“NO!” she shrieked, and she attempted to leap like a mad, wild cat onto Fenrir, hands clawing as if to tear out his eyes—but her own ankle shackles tripped her up, that and her own usual proclivity for clumsiness. Even so, she still had the boldness to shout, “You’re not taking my baby, you bastard! I’d rather die right now than live to let you take it from me!”
Fenrir took a step away from her, out of clawing range. “Oooh, kitty’s got claws. You married a feisty one, Lupin.”
Still unable to speak for his anger, for Fenrir’s having the gall to say that he would take his future child, and bite it, and raise it as his own, after killing both its parents.
His voice low and dangerous, his glaring eyes never leaving Fenrir’s cold ones, he growled, “If you so much as touch my child, I swear to high heaven, I’ll rise from my grave and torment you until you breathe your last.”
A rather morbid image, granted, but at least it gave Fenrir pause, and proved that he deeply underestimated the power of a mother’s determination to protect her child, a father’s determination to do whatever it took to see it unharmed.
“And you as well!” Remus barked at the two betas with such vehemence that they both jumped back, the keys to Remus’ shackles jangling.
In that moment, all fear of impending death, all self-doubt, all loss of strength from the pain of the silver, all hopelessness vanished. Perhaps it was the threat against his unborn child—the final straw where Fenrir was concerned in his book of Ways to Make Remus Lupin Suffer—that granted the clarity of mind, but suddenly where there wasn’t one before there came a small point of light that just might lead to a victory, and Remus took advantage of this unprecedented, opportune moment: his shackles had been undone for the purposes of leading him to his painful demise, and thinking fast he picked one up by the chain and swung it, thwacking one of the betas upside the head with the shackle, like a ball-and-chain bludgeon.
Fenrir shoved Remus and Nymphadora’s wand into the hands of the other beta, who stood there, petrified (pride of Fenrir’s army he was), and whipped out his own wand, preparing to curse Remus.
Remus came at him next with the shackles, using the same maneuver. But Fenrir stopped them in mid-swing with his wand and made them whack at Remus instead. Remus ducked and on the way he tackled the other beta.
This one was living up to the name of beta with how he fought back, biting and growling like a man who grew up as a feral child—which considering how often that happened with werewolf children, it might not be all that far from the truth.
But Remus had technique on his side and elbowed the beta in the face so he could get to his keys. Before the beta or Fenrir could stop him, he tossed the keys to Nymphadora, and Nymphadora set about unlocking her own shackles.
Fenrir raised his wand to stop her, but with one shackle loose, Nymphadora mimicked her husband and used it to smack Fenrir on the foot. Fenrir gave a snarl of pain and fell back against the bars of the cavern prison cell.
Meanwhile Remus grappled with the beta again—this time for his and Nymphadora’s wands. The beta got him pinned to the floor so Remus kneed him and shoved him off, leaving him supine. Then he snatched up his and Nymphadora’s wands.
Fenrir raised his but Remus was quicker.
He blasted Fenrir back into the wall, sending him crumpled and sprawled on the floor, as unconscious as his clocked beta.
“Here’s your wand, darling.” Remus handed the wand in question to Nymphadora after she’d freed herself from the other shackle.
“Cheers, love.” Nymphadora gave him a swift kiss on the cheek. “Merlin, you know you’re amazing, right?”
Remus couldn’t help a sheepish grin. “Well, I try to be where it counts. Anyway, as you’ve observed before, you and I do make a pretty good team.”
“My thoughts exactly.”
“Indeed. Now let’s get out of here.”
Hand in hand, the two of them fled from the dank cell, even as the one conscious beta tried to crawl after them. Certainly, there was a kind of strange euphoria dancing inside of them both, for only moments ago they could have sworn they were headed for their dooms, but as Fate would have it, luck was on their side.
Now all they had to do was find their way out of the caves. Remus went by his memories of when he was living here.
But of course they both had to face up to the reality that they weren’t out of the woods yet. Fenrir still had his own loyal pack, and they couldn’t possibly expect to sneak out of his caverns sight unseen, or at least without running into another werewolf.
Around the next corner, they came across two who Remus remembered as being very good friends of the werewolf Tyr, whom Greyback had killed after he tried to kill Remus and Ramirus in wolf form.
“It’s them! They’re escaping!” one of them growled, brandishing a filthy, claw-like hand.
Remus Stunned them with his wand, but the disturbance caused other werewolves in the vicinity to become aware of the escape situation, and hundreds of suspicious growls echoed throughout the caverns, every one of them those werewolves who had remained with Fenrir, and had laughed in Remus’ face at his talk of peace between lycanthropes and normal wizards.
They came at them from every tunnel, every shadow, until they were surrounded, no matter how many different twists and turns Remus and Nymphadora took to try and lose them. Not that they weren’t fighting back all the while: at every opposition they sent spells and stunners and curses and hexes flying that whizzed and banged and lit up the gloomy caverns with radiant crackles of violent light and sound. Through it all though Remus did his best to see that Nymphadora was shielded from the werewolves as much as possible.
“Look Remus!” Nymphadora pointed, and up above they spotted a circle of light where a hollowed out hole in the stone of the cavern ceiling let moonlight drift in with whispers of their possible freedom.
If they could somehow reach it—
One of the werewolves leapt, and grabbed Nymphadora even as Remus tried to pull her out of the way. He held fast though, and though many of the wolves beset them, rallied to tear the two of them apart, their eyes kept locked with each other, as if that alone would give them strength to hold each other. And though they both fought with their wands, it seemed the numbers of Fenrir’s built-up army was too much, even for two young lovers as strong as they.
That call came from above—it was Kingsley, from that very hole in the ceiling through which they had hoped they might be able to escape.
Remus couldn’t even fathom how Kingsley had found them, but there was no time for that now.
“Thank God!” Nymphadora cried.
“Hold on!” Kingsley withdrew his head and down after him came a rope ladder.
Hope rekindled again, Remus tossed away the werewolf that had grabbed his arm, stunned the one about to curse him—Kingsley too lent his wand so that while he and Nymphadora were blasting back further attackers, Remus could make a grab for the rope ladder.
“Don’t let them get away!” shouted one. “They’ve attacked Fenrir himself! And Thaddeus and Lucan too! That’s how they escaped!”
Remus assumed Thaddeus and Lucan were the two betas that had accompanied Fenrir into the cell (so Fenrir liked the idea of having two betas after having Remus and Ramirus, it seemed). Regardless, the idea that their leaders had been harmed was cause for even greater outrage among the other werewolves, and several of them gave beastly battle-howls. But Remus persevered, ignoring jabs and bites, and even the stab of a knife to his foot—it was just lucky that so many of the werewolves hadn’t had the chance to be trained in the magical arts: most of the wand-carrying werewolves Remus remembered from before when he was spying on them had gone over to his side and were now residing under Ramirus’ leadership in The Haven in Woolwych in London.
Fenrir probably was one of the few, which was probably to his advantage because it gave him even more power over his followers. But things had certainly disintegrated since Remus and Ramirus had left with their own: these werewolves were meaner, filthier, more ragged and hairy and steeped in the stench of blood and sweat, not to mention thinner—and it was clear that either by near starvation or force of will and ill-treatment and moonlit hunts even when the moon wasn’t full, Fenrir was practically breeding the human out of all of them, left with nothing but a lust for blood.
Smacking away one that tried to bite his arm, and kicking away another with the foot that still had a knife in it, Remus grasped the rope ladder at last, thanks to his own taller stature. “Got it!” he shouted up to Kingsley. “C’mon, Dora,” he said, his other hand still gripping hers.
Nymphadora nodded and elbowed the werewolf behind her in the nose. Remus gave her a valiant tug, and so did Kingsley on the rope ladder, dragging them both free of the fray—though not without taking with them a few clawing hitch-hikers.
“Remus, there’s a knife in your shoe!” Nymphadora exclaimed.
“Well, then pull it out,” said Remus with a wink, and Nymphadora did, and brandished it at those few werewolves who still clung onto them, sending them falling back onto their fellows.
But then something glinted in the corner of Remus’ eye, and he spotted a vengeful Fenrir with his two betas at the edge of the crowd, ready to fling a knife of his own at him. And he was dead good at his aim.
But Nymphadora was quicker with her wand and she hit Fenrir squarely in the chest with a Stunner that knocked him flat.
“That’s for my husband!” she shouted triumphantly as she and Remus disappeared up through the hole in the ceiling, out of the dark pit of Fenrir’s clan of werewolves.
After Kingsley helped Remus clamber out into the cool, wind-spun night, they both reached down and helped Nymphadora out.
Remus staggered slightly from the pain in his stabbed foot as he tried to stand—he’d have to have that looked at and healed as quickly as possible, before it got infected, especially considering the state of the knife that had stabbed him.
“Whew!” Nymphadora herself swayed on the spot, and Remus thought she looked a bit too drained of color. “Glad we got out of that one, eh, Remus? How’s your foot?”
“It’s….” But his voice tailed away, his stabbed foot nothing at all, as Nymphadora herself staggered while trying to stand. “Dora, are you all right?”
“Of course I am, right as rain,” she insisted, but she sounded kind of loopy. She swayed again.
“Tonks…” Kingsley exchanged a worried, uncertain, apprehensive glance with Remus.
Nymphadora put a hand to her head. “Oh…suddenly I…don’t feel so…right as rain….” She blinked as if struggling to stay awake and then gave a groan as she swooned forward in a faint right into Remus’ arms as he caught her to him.
“God, Nymphadora!” Remus gasped, pressing her against him as he steadied himself. “Quick, King, let’s get her out of here.”
“Let me carry her,” Kingsley insisted as Remus tried to hoist his unconscious wife into his arms. “Your foot….”
“You’re right. Here.” Remus handed Nymphadora’s limp form over to his friend, and despite Kingsley’s offer of further assistance, he waved him away, hobbling just behind as they made their way down the declivity of rock and deep into the woods before Fenrir sent a search party after them.
Once they were a safe enough distance, they Disapparated together, back at last to Lupin Cottage.
“Dizziness and faintness is not uncommon in pregnant women,” Molly was explaining as she bent carefully over Nymphadora—still out of it—on the bed in her and Remus’ bedroom. “And considering how long the two of you were held captive—nearly twenty-four hours, I believe—”
“Merlin.” Remus ran a tired hand through his hair, his free one holding his wife’s hand as if it were natural for the two of them to be fused that way.
“And not without a bite to eat for either of you—I mean you had to have been running on pure adrenaline, you poor dears. That being said, I expect to see you eating more of that broth.” Molly nodded to the broth she herself had cooked upon coming over when summoned for aid within moments of returning to Lupin Cottage.
Remus had hardly touched his bowl, he was too sick with worry. “Will she be all right?” he asked, though he spoke low and very hoarsely for his exhaustion.
“She’ll be fine, she just needs food and rest,” Molly assured him. When she first arrived to help, she revived Nymphadora well enough to feed her some sips of the broth she’d cooked—now she was sleeping the exhaustion off.
“What about the baby?” Remus asked even more apprehensively.
“We did the test and saw the baby was still okay—”
“But what if—?”
“Your child is uncommonly strong, Remus.” Molly patted his arm as she straightened up. “Have no fear.”
Remus laughed dryly but made no argument. With the hand he used to hold Nymphadora’s he ran his thumb over the back of hers.
“You could do with some sleep too,” Molly observed quietly.
“I can’t,” said Remus, almost timidly. “I just want to look at her. I’m afraid if I go to sleep, she’ll disappear. I’ll wake up and she’ll be gone. We almost—” His voice caught in his throat and he swallowed against the terrible ache inside him, for what terrible fate might have otherwise befallen them if they hadn’t managed what they did together. For a moment his gaze drifted from the gentle rise and fall of her chest, to her belly—so little protection for the small growing life within.
“Oh Remus.” Molly sighed. “I have to say, it’s a damn good thing you let good sense overrule you for once Remus. You two couldn’t be a more perfect pair for each other. There’s so much strength between the two of you, and…it’s quite beautiful, to be perfectly honest.” She wiped at her eyes a moment. “And I’ve never claimed to believe in soul mates, but what I see in you two, with all that you’ve gone through, and all that you’re facing together—and indeed, what with all I’ve shared with Arthur over the years, I know firsthand—this is one great love, and I do believe in that. Sometimes it gets away from you, and sometimes it sees you through until the end, but there’s always that one great one that tops them all.”
Remus looked up at her. “I believe that, Molly. What Dora and I have…it’s so strong and rare…I’m thankful every day I didn’t give up on it.”
Molly smiled. “You’re a good lad, Remus. Always have been.” She gave his shoulder a pat too and then said, “Well, I’d best be getting home, or Arthur’ll begin to worry. After I’ve satisfied him I’m not being captured by Death Eaters myself though, I’m sure he’ll make plans to come look in on you, so look sharp.” She winked rather mischievously and bustled out of the bedroom, taking her small carpetbag filled with a few home remedies with her. “And eat your broth!” she called over her shoulder.
As she went out, Kingsley poked his head in the room. “How’s she doing?”
“Just resting.” Remus stirred his bowl of broth with his free hand and ventured to take another sip, now that Molly had managed to alleviate a few of his worries.
“And you? You look like hell, you know.”
“Seriously though, will you be all right?”
“Of course we will, of course we will. And we’re safe here, thank God.” Remus swallowed another mouthful of broth; even though it was lukewarm, it still imbued him with strength he had long been missing out on since his and Nymphadora’s capture. “It’s about the only place we’re safe, really,” he mused rather pensively. “By the way, how did you know how to find us?” he asked, amazed that it hadn’t occurred to him to ask until now.
“They got me too with the Taboo,” Kingsley reported grimly. “I managed to get away though. I think I was lucky, quite a few of them were a few balls short of a Quidditch game, if you know what I mean. After I got out of that scrape I went to see Denise, make sure she was okay, and then went around to other members of the Order to warn them, and then I got here, not getting an answer. Then I remembered you had gone to Bill and Fleur’s, so when I went to check up on them, I asked if you two were still with them, and when they said no…I knew something was wrong.
“After that it was a matter of a little overtime digging. I traced you back to Dolohov through the Death Eaters—thanks to the bugs still on Travers and Nott—and learned that Fenrir Greyback was the one that took you.”
“Well we owe you our lives. Again, I think,” said Remus with a smile.
Kingsley laughed. “Don’t mention it. We stick together, we friends, right?”
“Yes,” said Remus, feeling a slight pang at Kingsley’s unconscious echo of James’ old saying, “Friends stick together.”
He cleared his throat. “So this Taboo on—on He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s name, it’s a way to track Order members?”
“Yes,” said Kingsley. “And anyone else who’d stand up to You-Know-Who. As well as truants from Hogwarts. If it isn’t Death Eaters who appear, it’s Snatchers—hired wizards dispatched to round up truants, since many of them are Muggle-borns anyway, that’s the reason, as you recall, that attendance at Hogwarts was made compulsory.”
“Right, I remember,” Remus murmured. “Well then…sounds as though we’ll have to be more careful. But…thank you again, Kingsley.” With his free hand Remus clasped Kingsley’s in gratitude.
“Of course,” said Kingsley. “Now, if you’re doing okay, I think I must be going. Give you two your privacy.” He gave a kind of salute and then he too left.
Remus finished off the broth and finally left Nymphadora’s side to do final checks about the house, making sure everything was airtight and safe from intruders.
Check, check, and check.
He thought about washing up—Molly had washed Nymphadora up after all, and he knew he’d probably feel even a little bit better once he was clean. So he drew a bath (too tired to stay standing in the shower) and scrubbed himself down. He took another look at his foot—there wasn’t even a trace of a scar where the knife had gone in, thanks to Molly’s expert Healing Spell, and use of a Scouring Charm to clean it and some Essence of Dittany to stop the bleeding (though most of it had already congealed by the time it got around to being examined).
He also looked over the ugly row of scars along his right arm where the silver knife had cut into them. He touched them, briefly. They didn’t hurt anymore, but he would never forget their pain.
What would his child think, to look on him? Would it ask the same kind of questions its mother had asked him, back when she was small?
As if in a trance, Nymphadora reached up with her small hand and ever so lightly touched the scars on Remus’ face with her small fingertips, but for some reason, Remus didn’t mind. Yet as soon as she touched him she withdrew, and a strange light seemed to have been blown out.
She was downcast. “I’m sorry, sir,” she murmured. “I was just…curious….”
“It’s quite alright,” Remus said softly, and he meant it too.
Remus moved his hand up to the scars on his face, staring all the while at the new scars on his arm, imagining:
“Daddy, why do you have so many scars? Did something bad happen to you?”
“Yes, something bad did happen to me…a very long time ago….”
He finished washing up and then pulled the drain. After he dried himself off and wrapped himself up in some pajamas and a dressing gown, he made himself and Nymphadora a cup of tea and then shut down the house for good, locking himself in the bedroom upstairs back with his wife.
He set the mug down on the bedside table. Nymphadora was still asleep, but he’d barely resumed his vigil seat, sipping on his tea, when she stirred, blinking like a cat in the sun.
“I’m here, darling.” He took her hand again with his free one, as before, rubbing the pad of his thumb reassuringly over the back.
Nymphadora smiled sleepily. “Molly and King gone?” she mumbled into the pillow.
“What time is it?”
“It’s about half-past ten.”
Remus tried to suppress a chuckle. “Yes. You haven’t been out that long, though it probably feels like it’s been longer.”
“Kind of. I was dead tired.” Nymphadora blinked her eyes into better focus. “You look it too,” she observed, a little more alertly. “Have you gotten any sleep since we got back?”
“I was worried about you. I mean…you know…you just fainted.”
“Ah, that’s right I did.” Nymphadora cringed. “Argh, I can’t believe I fainted. Nobody faints. I mean they do but…oh, it’s such an old fashioned thing…I mean, I know Harry did around those dementors, but he grew out of that, right? When you taught him how to use a Patronus against them?”
“That’s right I did,” said Remus, unable to help a smile this time.
“Thank God for Kingsley though.” Nymphadora returned his smile, but then she frowned. “Remus? Darling? What is it?”
Remus bit his lip. “I’ve just been thinking…I know it wasn’t my fault—in that I couldn’t have known that saying You-Know-Who’s name would….”
“Oh, shush.” Nymphadora reached up and brushed his bangs affectionately, soothingly. “It was an accident. They planned it so that good people like you and me could get caught and killed.”
“I know…and…I only wish that I could’ve protected you better.”
“You did protect me. We protected each other as well as the baby. You were magnificent.”
Remus felt himself go meek with modest appreciation at the glimmer of pride and feminine admiration in his wife’s lovely indigo eyes. “You were pretty fantastic yourself, my dear,” he said, referring to how she’d stunned Fenrir—more so because of what she’d shouted afterward.
“That’s for my husband!”
Not to mention how fiercely she’d defended the honor of their unborn child, willing to die before letting her child be bitten—as he would be.
She squeezed his hand. “Cheers, love,” she said, and he pressed a kiss to her knuckles.
“Oh darling…” he murmured against her fingers, “oh my darling….”
“Now please, Remus, won’t you please get some sleep with me? You need your rest as much as I do.”
Remus’ smile widened. “I suppose so. Drink some of this tea I’ve made you and we’ll call it a night, eh?”
So Nymphadora did, managing to sit up and gulp down the tea. Remus finished his own and at long last crawled into bed beside his wife, curling protectively around her as he held her in his arms, one hand laid over her stomach.
But while Nymphadora drifted off, Remus stayed awake a while longer, listening, ever the watchful father, softly stroking his wife’s pink hair.
What he didn’t know was that sometime in the wee hours of the morning, after he’d joined her in sleep, she woke and turned around to look at his face in the moonlight. She touched the side of it with a kind of reverence, and couldn’t help but wonder as she observed the slight knit in his brow, what else might be bothering him in the depths of his dreams?