Elle Insontis nodded slowly, feeling tears spring into her eyes. It had been so long since she had heard his voice- heard him say her name.
Without a single word, she hurried forward and embraced a man she had not seen for sixteen years.
And had loved every moment of it.
Remus, on the other hand, pressed her to his body, simply holding her. She felt the same as she had so many years ago and still fit perfectly in his arms. He pulled away, keeping his hands on her shoulders. "I thought you weren't coming back," he said softly, touching her cheek.
"I made you a promise," she whispered, tears streaming down her face. "I promised I'd always come back to you."
Almost as if out of an old habit, Remus leaned in to kiss her but something crossed his face, and he pulled away. He glanced over Elle's shoulder at the Agnes, clearing his throat anxiously. She glanced to her mother, who nodded slightly before keeping her eyes fixed intently on Remus.
"I'm Agnes," she said nervously.
"Remus," he said, before gesturing to the boy standing behind him. "And this is Harry."
"Why don't you take Agnes into the...um, into the kitchen," continued Remus, nodding to his companion. "I need to talk to Elle alone."
With an anxious glance at her mother, Agnes followed the messy haired boy through a very dark and dismal-looking hallway. He opened a door and led her into a room that was quite obviously the kitchen. It was empty except for a red-haired boy sitting at the table, flipping through papers. He glanced up as Harry and Agnes entered the room. "Who're you?" he asked, with a bit of a grin on his face.
Agnes glanced at Harry. "Agnes," she mumbled, shifting her weight.
"You can sit down if you want," said Harry politely. "Do you want something to drink?"
"Water's fine," said Agnes, seating herself across from the red-head, who had yet to introduce himself.
She awkwardly watched Harry fetch a glass from a cupboard and pour some water into it. As he set the cup in front of her, he said, "I'm going to go check on Ron and Hermione, okay, Fred?"
Fred grunted in response and continued reading his papers. He was quiet for a few moments after Harry had left the room, causing Agnes to sit in uncomfortable silence. "My brother and his girlfriend," he said finally, looking up at her. "Harry went to on check on them." He grinned at Agnes. "He's afraid that the second he leaves those two alone, they'll start trying to get in each others' pants. Poor bloke. Probably doesn't realize he could walk in on them."
Agnes laughed, feeling a little more at ease. There was something warm and friendly about Fred that made her feel welcomed "So, where are you from anyway?" asked Fred curiously.
"Boston, Massachusetts," she replied. "My mom dragged me here."
Her mother, meanwhile, was standing in the living room, just watching Remus. Neither of them had said anything yet. The tension filling the room could have been cut with a knife.
"Sixteen years," he said finally, sitting heavily down on the couch. "You never wrote."
Elle sat beside him, rather close, and placed her hand on his knee. "Neither did you," she said softly.
"I didn't know where you were," he said, his heart leaping as she touched him. "Otherwise I would have. Every day."
"I was afraid to," said Elle, looking away. "Afraid of the kind of news I would get."
"Sirius is dead," muttered Remus.
"You could've come back."
"Why not, Elle?" said Remus, feeling a small pleasure at saying her name again. A name he hadn't uttered in years.
"It was too dangerous," she said, trying to explain her reasoning- one that even she didn't understand.
"Voldemort was gone for years."
"I...I..." stuttered Elle helplessly. "I was afraid of what I'd come back to. Afraid you'd moved on..."
Remus looked at his hands. "I thought of you every day," he said, his voice hoarse. "My heart was always yours."
She placed her hands on his, and he looked up at her again. "Then kiss me," she whispered. "Please."
"Elle, I can't," he said, slipping his hands out of hers and standing up.
"Why not?" she asked, standing, as well.
She sank back onto the couch, stunned. "You can't be," she said. "You promised you'd wait for me."
"It's been sixteen years, Elle," he cried, shaking his head. "She just happened."
"But that's not the point," she said. "You promised you'd wait for me."
"I was planning to!" said Remus, feeling terribly frustrated. "I didn't mean for this to happen. After a while, I just couldn't keep telling myself you were coming back. And now you've shown on the doorstep-" Looking as beautiful as ever. "-with some girl and- Who is she anyway?"
Elle took a deep breath and fought back her coming tears. "Your daughter."
Agnes was having a great time in the kitchen, chatting with Fred Weasley. He had been making her laugh the entire time they'd been talking. He had told her all about the joke shop that he owned with his brother and all the ridiculous things they had invented. He was just explaining to her about their marvelous Plant-a-Pimples. "They're the perfect thing to give a relative," he was saying, his eyes shining. "Just put it on your lip. Make sure it's the non-magicked side. Give 'em a kiss on the cheek and pow!"
For added emphasis, he slammed his hand on the table, causing Agnes to jump. She burst into laughter. "That's absolutely terrible," she said, continuing to giggle. "But very clever."
Fred shrugged but seemed rather pleased with himself. It was at that point that Harry entered, followed by Ron and Hermione. "Had to get them out of that bedroom," he muttered at Fred, as he seated himself at the table.
"Hi, you must be Agnes," said Hermione, shaking her hand. "I'm Hermione Granger."
"You shut up, Harry," snapped Ron, seeing that Harry was rolling his eyes and telling Fred something.
"Manners, Ronald," hissed Hermione, smacking him on the chest.
"Right," said Ron sheepishly. "Sorry. I'm, uh, I'm Ron."
Agnes smiled shyly and said hello. "Have you seen Ginny, Hermione?" asked Fred. "Mum was fretting about her not coming down for lunch."
"She's still in her room," said Hermione, and Agnes thought that she glanced pointedly at Harry. "She claims she isn't hungry."
Harry cleared his throat awkwardly and changed the subject. "Neville and Luna are out in the garden," said Harry, trying to mask a grin. "He wanted to show her some plants."
"That's not all he wants to show her," muttered Ron, earning him a kick under the table from Hermione.
Agnes leaned back in her chair and, strangely enough, she felt comfortable in the presence of total strangers.
"What?" whispered Remus, turning pale again.
She simply nodded.
"That's not possible," he said, looking frantically at her. "We always used protection charms." He noticed that she looked guiltily at the floor. "What did you do, Elle?"
She stood up off of the couch and crossed the room, unable to look him in the eye. "That last night," she began. "I thought I would never see you again. I needed something."
"I knew it was my time. I knew I would get pregnant," she continued. "I was a stupid young girl." At that point, Elle turned to face him. "I loved you, Remus," she said, almost with a plea in her voice. "I love you now. And I will always love you."
I love you, too. But Remus couldn't bring himself to say it. He had made a promise to Tonks. And he loved Tonks, too.
He didn't look at her for a moment. But when he did, all he said was, "Does she know?"
Agnes had been telling her newfound friends all about her school when her mother came in, following the man who had introduced himself as Remus. "Agnes, sweetheart," said her mother, quietly. "There's something I need to tell you."
"Harry, could you all please go upstairs?" asked Remus, nodding towards the door.
Harry and the others stood up from the table and headed out the door, casting curious glances back at Agnes.
"I don't know how to tell you this," said Elle, looking at the floor. "You met Remus earlier."
Agnes nodded, giving him a questioning look. He shrugged slightly and said, "I just found out, myself."
"He's your father, Agnes," said Elle, her voice strangled.
Agnes's jaw dropped slightly. "He's my good-for-nothing father?"
Remus chuckled nervously. "I suppose you could call me that," he said.
"Sorry, sir," said Agnes, flushing. "She never said that. I just always figured-"
"That I left her," finished Remus. "No, I love your mother very much."
Elle looked up at Remus's lack of past tense. "Weren't you married?" asked Agnes.
Her mother shook her head. "No," she said. "I had to leave. Because of the war. Just after I got pregnant with you." She glanced up at Remus. "He never knew."
There was silence in the room, broken only by a door slamming, a crash, and the sound of someone muttering, "Damn."
Moments later, the three turned around to find a small woman with bright pink hair stumbling in through the door. "Tripped on the doormat," she said, giving them a wide grin and kissing Remus on the cheek. "Who're your friends, Remus?"
"This is Elle Insontis and her daughter, Agnes," said Remus quickly. "Elle is an old school friend."
Tonks gave her a friendly nod, but Elle did not smile. She seemed to be studying her. Truth be told, it was making Tonks a little uncomfortable. "Tired, much?" she asked, trying to give explanation to the older woman's calculating look. "Did you travel a lot?"
"We're from the U.S.," said Agnes, standing up to be by her mother. "We could probably use a rest. That is, do you have an extra room?"
"Sure," said Tonks. "We can stick Fred and George in with Harry and Ron. Remus, you want to take them to that room? I've got to get something to eat, or I'm going to fall over."
"Again, you mean?" he said, smiling slightly.
Tonks stuck out her tongue at him.
"I left our suitcases in the living room," said Elle softly.
"Don't worry about it," said Agnes. "I'll get them, mom, and meet you- it's upstairs, isn't it?"
She directed this last question at Remus, who nodded again. "I'll show you, Elle," he said, leading her out of the room, as Tonks opened the cabinets.
They climbed the stairs in silence. "So, that's her, then?" said Elle, when they had reached the top.
"Yeah, that's Tonks," said Remus, with a small smile.
"And you love her?"
Elle felt a painful tug at her heart as he nodded. "But you love me, too."
"Don't lie to me," whispered Elle, gently pushing him against a wall. "Don't say you don't."
He could have easily moved away. He knew it. And yet, he couldn't.
"I can see it in your eyes, Remus," she said, her face close to his. "You still love me. You never stopped."
Throwing caution to the winds, Remus threw his arms around her and pulled her to him in a kiss that was so full of passion, he was surprised that the room did not burst into flames. It was only when he heard a door open that he realized what he had done. Elle pulled away from him, and they both turned to see Harry Potter staring at them, looking astonished. He shifted nervously and mumbled something, before heading into the girls' room.
"Oh, Godric," muttered Remus. "I can't do this. Elle, I can't."
"I'll take you to your room."
Harry wasn't sure what to do. Normally, he would have told his friends what he had seen. But somehow...it didn't seem right. Besides, right now, he had more important things to worry about. Like the fact that Ginny had avoided speaking to him since they had gotten back from school.
And they were now alone together.
She had looked up from a magazine when he had opened the door. "Harry?" she said, sounding surprised and fairly nervous. "What are you doing here?"
"I just-" saw Remus snogging that stranger "-wanted to make sure you were alright," he said lamely.
"Yeah," she said, smiling, although Harry couldn't help but feel that it was a sad smile. "I'm fine."
"Anything else?" she asked, flipping the magazine closed.
Harry shook his head but didn't want to leave. He knew that Remus probably would have stopped whatever it was that he was doing, but the fact that he might still be out there and that Harry might have to face him, did not sound like a good idea to Harry.
"Then you should probably go," said Ginny, shrugging slightly.
"Yeah, I probably should," muttered Harry, turning to the door and hoping that she would stop him.
Agnes walked back into the kitchen with suitcases to find Remus's...her father's girlfriend making a sandwich. "Excuse me?" she said quietly. "Do you think you could show me where I'm sleeping?"
Tonks turned around and gave her a smile. "Of course," said Tonks, taking a bite out of her sandwich. "I'm Tonks, by the way. I don't think Remus told you."
Agnes shook her head and followed Tonks up the stairs. "So, what brings you to Grimmauld Place?" asked Tonks, trying to make friendly conversation as they climbed the stairs.
"I honestly have no idea," said Agnes, realizing how stupid she sounded. "My mom just had me pack my things yesterday and we just...left."
"Mothers can do that," said Tonks, chuckling. "My own mum was terribly impulsive. Always doing crazy things."
Agnes didn't feel the need to tell Tonks that her mother was probably the least impulsive person in the world. She just wanted to get to their room.
And her wish was soon granted, as they reached the top of the stairs and went down a dark hallway, at the end of which, Tonks opened a door. Agnes walked inside to find her mother already there waiting. "Nice meeting you," said Tonks, giving Elle a nod and leaving them.
Agnes threw her suitcase on one of the beds, leaving her mother's by the door. "Mom, what are we doing here?" she said, sitting on the bed.
Elle didn't answer but started unpacking some of her things. She looked very worn in the dim lighting of the room. With a flick of her wand, Elle lit a candle by the bed casting a light glow on her tired, sad face.