Chapter 1 : When Moments Remain
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Our lives are composed of a series of moments, intricately woven together to create the fabric of our time in this world.
When that fabric begins to unravel and your final days arrive, how will you spend that time?
Will you celebrate all that you’ve had, wrapping yourself in the memories of your life or will you regretfully count down the little time you have left as each tiny thread frays and falls away?
Time and fate are unyielding. The fact is our time will run out. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Appreciate the great loves of your life...your husband or wife, your children, your dearest family and friends.
Offer forgiveness, foster acceptance, love unconditionally and give freely of yourself.
Give them your moments…for someday, the memories of those moments will be all that remains.
In silence, Tonks stood in the open doorway to their lounge, having quietly entered the room unseen. She was watching her husband intently as he held their only child in his arms. His hair was graying and grizzled, the lines of his face deeper than they’d once been. In her eyes, however, he couldn’t have looked more perfect.
Remus was smiling, his eyes sparkling as he sat on the sofa holding Teddy in his lap. Looking down at their son, he spoke in low whispers, as though sharing a wonderful secret with the boy.
Her chest tightened and her throat constricted painfully as she continued to take in the scene. Wanting the moment to last, Tonks intently studied every detail: the lines of his face, the movement of his lips as he spoke, the curve of his body. Desperately she tried to freeze the image in her mind.
The last several months had been wonderful, better than she’d ever dreamed they could be. Although at first Remus had tried to fight what had grown between them, in the end he’d finally allowed himself to have something he’d never thought he would: a real life, a true love…and now, a precious child.
As the thought of the gifts they’d been given flashed through her mind in vivid detail, Tonks held her breath, choking back unshed tears. In moments, she knew he would leave them. The last thing she wanted was for their remaining time together to be filled with the laments of what could have been or what would be, if only...
Don’t think that way, she chastised herself, blocking out the string of possibilities that threatened to overwhelm her. He’s coming home when it’s over. He has to…
After a few more treasured seconds, she tried to back away, leaving them to their private farewells. It was then that Remus looked up and met her gaze. Stopping her retreat, she smiled warmly, her dark eyes locking on his pale gray ones in a silent plea for more time.
She wanted to say something, to tell him how much she loved him, but the words remained lodged in her mind. Standing in the deafening silence that stretched between them, she couldn’t help thinking that words simply weren’t enough.
As Remus smiled back at her, however, suddenly she knew it didn’t matter. If she’d spoken, she couldn’t have said more than they’d conveyed to each other in that single look. Shifting Teddy in his lap, Remus held out his hand to her and beckoned her forward to join them.
For the next few minutes they left words behind and simply enjoyed the time they had together. As though nothing else existed in their world, they focused on only each other. All too soon it was over and Remus rose from the sofa to leave. Getting to her feet, she followed him as he made his way to the fireplace.
Turning back to face her, he held his son tightly to his chest one last time. Tilting his head, Remus gently buried his face in the small crook of Teddy’s neck. Inhaling deeply, he paused to breathe in the undeniably sweet scent of his skin. Before pulling away, Remus kissed him, whispering a few final words into his tiny ear before reluctantly handing the baby to his wife.
Tonks took their son in her arms, shifting him so he rested on her shoulder. There was a second’s pause and then she was stepping forward, wrapping her free arm around her husband’s neck as she leaned in to him. They’d been over it a hundred times and she knew this was the only way. Remus had to go, had to help fight and she needed to stay behind and keep their son safe. Reluctantly Tonks had promised to do just that and she’d meant it, but now that the time had come to say goodbye, suddenly she wanted to take it all back.
Squeezing her eyes shut tight, she held on to her husband, wishing if she simply never let go, everything would be alright. Remus shuddered in response and pulled her closer, briefly holding his family securely in his arms. Pulling back slightly he kissed her neck, her cheek, her temple, her nose…then he touched his lips to hers. When he broke the kiss, he lifted his palm to her cheek and held her gaze, tenderly rubbing his thumb back and forth against her skin. As he touched her, for a few seconds his eyes roamed over her features, as though memorizing the contours of her face. With a final kiss, he backed away, allowing his fingers to slowly trail down her cheek before dropping his hand to his side.
Turning to reach for a handful of floo powder from the mantelpiece, Remus then stepped forward and into the grate. Moving to face her again, he readied himself to leave as their eyes locked on one another once more.
“The Hog’s Head,” he spoke loudly as he released the powder from his hand.
Green flames erupted, flashing quickly and then vanishing. Before she could finish her words, he was gone.
“I love you,” she breathed, regretting that she hadn’t been able to say it sooner as she stared at the empty grate.
They’re just words, three simple words, she tried to reassure herself, insisting that he knew how she felt.
She’d said them hundreds of times, nearly everyday since the first day they admitted their feelings to one another. She’d said them so many times from that day to this, that at some point, they’d become routine. Some days the words were almost more rote than meaningful as they rolled easily off her tongue.
But not today…
No, today she’d meant them more than she’d ever meant anything in her life, and yet she’d failed to get the words out. Her heart ached at the thought that she’d missed her chance to look into her husband’s eyes and tell him how much she loved him. Those three simple words had brought her such joy, but now they brought only pain as her doubt and fear closed in on her.
What if I never have another chance…
A wave of panic washed over her and she clutched their baby to her chest. As she held him, her tears finally broke free and trailed in tiny lines down her cheeks. As though Teddy could feel his mother’s tension and anguish, he too began to cry. Slowly, she began to sway from side to side, comforting him as she’d done on countless nights.
“Shhhhh…baby,” she soothed as she gently rubbed his back. “Mummy’s here…everything will be alright.”
Those were her words, but even as she calmed her child, she couldn’t stop thinking about her husband and what he and the others would soon be facing. She felt helpless, cut off from everyone and everything.
Beginning to pace the room with Teddy in her arms, Tonks grew more and more distraught. Walking to the far end of the room, a series of images played in her mind, each one more troubling than the last. Pivoting, she turned and began to retrace her steps back across the room. As she did, she looked up to see her mother standing in the doorway.
“How long have you been standing there?” Tonks asked her quietly, stopping her pacing but resuming the gentle sway of her body, shifting her weight back and forth on her feet.
“Long enough to know that you can’t do this,” her mother replied, her brown eyes sad, but her lips curved into a small understanding smile.
“I…I have to,” Tonks replied, her gaze dropping to the floor as she held Teddy closer. “I have to keep my promise to Remus…to our son.”
“You promised to keep Teddy safe,” her mother reminded her.
“Yes…and I will,” Tonks nodded, reaffirming her vow as she lifted her eyes to meet her mother’s.
“No,” her mother shook her head. “I will…”
Releasing a shuddering breath, Tonks watched as her mother slowly moved toward her. As she approached, she held out her arms to take her grandson. Tonks resisted, holding Teddy against her with one arm as she cupped the nape of his neck in her other hand. Soothed to sleep by his mother’s movements, Teddy’s head rested comfortably on her shoulder, his tiny fist clutching a lock of fuchsia hair at the base of her neck.
“I don’t know,” Tonks shook her head, unwilling to give up her son just yet. “I don’t know if…if I can leave him.”
“Will you be able to live with yourself if you don’t?” her mother asked, her voice soft and sympathetic. “I’m sorry, Nymphadora, but I saw you with Remus before he left. I heard what you said…and what you didn’t…”
“You were watching us?”
“Yes…I didn’t mean to interfere or intrude on your private moments together,” her mother admitted, “but you are my baby.”
“I’m not a child,” Tonks countered in response.
“No, but you’re hurting and scared,” Andromeda replied, taking a step closer. “You may be a grown woman with a family of your own now, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m always going to be your mother. I wanted to be close…in case you needed me.”
“Mum…” Tonks replied softly. “I don’t think…”
“You need to go, dear,” her mother interrupted her. “If you don’t and something…if something happens…you’ll never be able to forgive yourself.”
Tonks wanted to protest, but deep down she knew her mother was right. In those few honest words, Andromeda had just voiced the fears of her heart. Reality set in quickly and Tonk’s stomach balled into a tight mass of knots. She had to see him one last time, speak the words that she’d failed to say before it was too late.
In her mind, she knew she needed to go, yet somehow she was unable to move. Instead of preparing to leave, she stood resting her cheek gently against the top of Teddy’s soft, little head.
“Come now, dear,” her mother coaxed her, encouraging her to place Teddy into her outstretched arms. “He’ll be well taken care of…I’ll watch over him. You know I’ll protect him with my life.”
“Just…just give me a minute,” Tonks replied shakily, lifting her cheek and turning to kiss the crown of his head. “I n-need to say goodbye.”
Andromeda nodded silently before she took a few steps backward and then moved to the far side of the room to wait. Kissing him again, Tonks carefully shifted Teddy from her shoulder. Gently she tugged his small, pink fist from her hair and nestled him into the crook of her arm.
For several seconds, she gazed down at her baby, a small lump forming in her throat.
Swallowing hard, she held him in one arm before raising the hand of her other to softly stroke his rosy cheek with her fingertips. He looked peaceful, angelic as he dreamed. No matter what raged beyond their doors, his world was serene, constant…perfect.
Inhaling an unsteady breath, Tonks felt tears begin to sting the corners of her eyes.
What’s wrong with me? she thought, shaking her head as she struggled to master herself.
Tonks was always so strong, optimistic. She couldn’t understand why she was suddenly feeling so shaky and afraid. Saying goodbye to her husband had been nearly paralyzing for her. Although she knew Remus had been in fights before, she couldn’t seem to shake the unsettling feeling of foreboding that crept over her.
Trying to sort through her new emotions, Tonks worked to find reasons for her fears. Maybe it was the fact that they’d never faced something of this magnitude. Maybe it was because she’d always been able to rush into battle at his side. Or, maybe it was the fact that they now had Teddy. Over the last few months, he’d changed their entire world and how they felt about the risks they’d so easily taken in the past. Looking down at her son, suddenly she knew it was all of those things.
They were facing a battle, unlike they’d ever seen. Although she’d agreed to stay behind, the thought of Remus charging in without her at his side was terrifying. Even more terrifying however was that now when they left to fight, they were leaving Teddy behind. Since they’d become a family, it just felt like they had so much more to lose. Determined to hold onto what they had, Tonks bolstered her courage to do what she knew needed to be done.
“Mummy has to go now, little one,” she whispered as she watched his lips twitch a few times in his sleep. “I’m sorry, Teddy. I know you won’t understand this now, but there are some things that I’ve left unfinished. Mummy needs to go and do them. I don’t want to leave you,” she breathed, swallowing hard again as the tears began to flow, “but I won’t be gone longer than I have to…I promise.”
Lifting her gaze to her mother, Tonks silently nodded, signaling that she was ready to leave. In response, Andromeda moved deliberately, crossing the room and coming to a stop in front of them, a small, but encouraging smile resting upon her lips.
“G-go with Grandma now, angel,” Tonks said, forcing a smile, her voice nearly breaking as she leaned down to gently press her lips to his forehead. “She’s g-going to take care of you for me …just until we can be together again,” she added, nuzzling her cheek to his before pulling away.
Carefully she shifted Teddy from her body and passed him to her mother’s waiting, open arms.
“When he wakes up,” Tonks told her mother, gently stroking her son’s light brown hair with her fingers, “tell him I love him.”
“He knows you do,” her mother reassured her as she watched her daughter move to grab a handful of floo powder. “He’ll always know how much you love him.”
“Thank you…thank you for knowing what I needed and understanding,” Tonks told her as she stepped into the grate. “You’ve always known what I’ve needed and…I love you, Mum.”
“I love you too, Dora,” she answered, tears welling in her eyes. “Goodbye, dear.”
Before she could reconsider, Tonks dropped the silvery powder at her feet and clearly stated her destination. Instantly, the emerald green flames engulfed her. Flaring upward, the fire rose higher than the spikes of her fuchsia, pink hair to surround her entire body. As she was swept away, a swirl of hot ash and smoke stung her eyes and lungs, but the flames felt oddly comforting. They seemed to encircle her like the warmth of a pleasant summer breeze.
Tonk’s stomach seemed to rise into her throat as she felt the familiar sensation of the floor disappearing beneath her. In the next second she dropped, plummeting rapidly as though her body was being sucked down through a huge drain pipe. As she spiraled downward, grate after grate appeared and then vanished in front of her squinting eyes, blurred in a haze of distorted shapes and green flames.
Just as the combined sensations threatened to turn her stomach, a burst of cold air seemed to rejuvenate her. When the spinning stopped and she felt solid stone rise up to meet her feet, she quickly stepped out of the fireplace and into the grubby bar room of The Hog’s Head Inn. She’d only taken a single step when she was immediately greeted by the tip of a crooked old wand. It was pointed directly at her face and being held by a scowling, grouchy-looking wizard with long gray hair and a wispy beard.
“He’s not going to like this,” Aberforth warned her gravely, lowering his wand to his side.
“I know, but I had to come,” Tonks countered, dusting off the soot as she moved further into the dirty, foul-smelling inn. “He’ll have to understand.”
“Humph…” the wizard replied, reminiscent of Moody’s flare for eloquent speech.
In silence the wizard turned and made his way to the bar as Tonks followed. Moving behind the counter, they passed through a doorway and started up a creaky wooden staircase to the second floor. When they reached the top, they entered a dilapidated old sitting room and strode deliberately to the portrait of a pretty young, blond girl.
As she looked at the painting, Tonks couldn’t help thinking it was the only thing that appeared to be well cared for in the room. Compared to the rest of the chamber, it alone seemed polished and pristine. Hanging over the small crackling fireplace in its freshly-oiled, wooden frame, it stood out brightly amongst the otherwise dingy-looking furnishings and decorations.
“You know,” he began, drawing her attention from the portrait as he studied her through the grimy lenses of his wire-framed spectacles, “you’re lucky I’m still here. If I hadn’t been, you’d never have been able to get inside. She won’t open up for anyone but me.”
“But you are and she will,” Tonks countered, nodding her head toward the portrait on the wall.
The wizard continued to stare at Tonks for a few more seconds, as though debating whether he should allow her to pass or send her home. Finally he seemed to come to a decision.
“Ariana…we’ve got another visitor,” he told the girl in the oil painting.
Although her eyes appeared glassy and vacant, the young girl smiled sweetly at her brother before rising from her chair. Turning her back to them, she proceeded down a long corridor that had been painted into the backdrop of her canvas. After several seconds, the girl seemed to disappear, swallowed up by the darkness at the end of the tunnel.
Moments later, she reappeared as a miniscule spot of light at the far end of the corridor. As she approached them, it was clear that she wasn’t alone. At her side was another young woman with long ginger hair. As they grew nearer, Tonks quickly realized who it was. When the pair reached the surface of Ariana’s portrait, the whole thing swung open as though mounted on the hinges of a cupboard door. Beyond the portrait, the entrance to a real tunnel was revealed.
“Ginny!” Tonks exclaimed.
“I knew you’d come,” Ginny replied in a rush, as she hurriedly reached for Tonk’s hand. “Hogwarts is already under attack. There are Death Eaters everywhere…giants are storming the north end of the castle…It’s total chaos!”
Taking Ginny’s hand with her right and pulling herself up with her left, Tonks climbed up onto the mantelpiece and crawled into the tunnel to join her. Turning to proceed down the passageway together, the portrait closed behind them.
As they walked, Ginny went on, recounting everything that had been happening and how she’d been ordered to remain in the Room of Requirement. When she finished, Tonks began telling Ginny why she’d come and what she needed to do. She’d nearly finished when they’d reached the end of the tunnel, climbed out of the portrait hole at the other end and into the Room of Requirement.
A few moments after they’d arrived, the portrait behind them opened again, causing them to jump. As they turned, an old witch wearing a fox fur scarf and a worn-looking hat climbed out to join them.
“I’m Augusta Longbottom,” she announced without preamble, sealing the entrance behind her with her wand before straightening her green robes, “Neville’s grandmother,” the woman added proudly.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Longbottom,” Tonks replied after recovering from the witch’s unexpected entrance. “I only wish it were under happier circumstances.”
“You and me both,” the woman nodded in response. “I just left Aberforth. He’s on his way up to the grounds to join the fight outside the castle. What’s happening out there?” she nodded toward the exit that led to the castle’s interior corridors.
“Not sure,” Ginny replied spitefully. “I’m not allowed to leave this room.”
“Not allowed?” Mrs. Longbottom countered in surprise. “That’s preposterous! You’ve got a wand, haven’t you?”
“Well, um…yes, ma’am,” Ginny nodded, slightly unsure of what to make of the woman.
“Then put it to use, girl!” Augusta exclaimed. “We need all hands on deck. We’re at war!”
Tonks watched as Ginny’s face brightened, having finally found herself an ally. Everyone had been insisting she hide in the Room of Requirement, staying safely out of the way. Now suddenly, this witch was practically telling her to grab up her wand and run, full tilt, into battle. Without speaking, Ginny’s eyes flicked toward the corridor that led to the castle and then back to meet Tonks’ gaze.
“I don’t know, Ginny…” Tonks began hesitantly, watching as the wheels began to turn in her young friend’s mind.
“Well, I do,” Ginny replied. “I can’t stay here anymore…I can’t stand not knowing what’s happening. Of all people, you should understand. You’re not even supposed to be here, but you are!”
“I’d say the girl makes a fine point,” Augusta offered her unsolicited opinion. “Now…what are we waiting around for…let’s get out there and get to it.”
“Yeah!” Ginny chimed in, getting caught up in Mrs. Longbottom’s fervor. “Please, Tonks…I have to help. My family, my friends…everyone I care about is out there.”
“Oh, alright,” Tonks agreed reluctantly after a few second’s pause. “You can come, but you’re staying with me,” she cautioned. “I’m not about to let something happen to you on my watch when everyone else has been trying to keep you safe.”
“Yes, of course, whatever you say,” Ginny anxiously nodded her agreement. “I promise, I’ll be right behind you,” she vowed, holding up one hand as she withdrew her wand with the other.
“Now, if that’s settled,” Mrs. Longbottom interjected impatiently, “wands at the ready, ladies,” she ordered, raising her own with a flourish. “I’ll take the lead and you two can…”
Rather than finishing her instructions, Augusta stopped abruptly mid-sentence, her eyes locking on a point across the room. Tonks and Ginny followed her line of sight to find Harry, Ron and Hermione emerging from the long passageway into the room.
“Splendid timing!” Mrs. Longbottom exclaimed. “Now we can get a run-down of the situation before we join the fight.”
Without missing a beat, Mrs. Longbottom strode directly over to Harry and quickly demanded an update of the current battle conditions. Taken aback at her directness, Harry stared at her for a few seconds before telling the three women as much as he knew. When he’d finished, Mrs. Longbottom announced she was going to join her grandson in battle before taking off for corridor and the stone steps beyond at a hurried clip.
After she’d gone, Tonks turned back to the others to find Harry watching her. When he questioned why she was there, she told him honestly, explaining that she simply couldn’t stay behind and wait for news of what was happening to filter back to her. After she’d asked about Remus, Harry told her of her husband’s plans to lead a group of wizards and other fighters out onto the grounds. Her eyes went wide and then she immediately tore off toward the steps, completely forgetting about Ginny as she left her behind. A few seconds later, Ginny was hot on her heels, having been evicted from the Room of Requirement by Harry himself.
Tonks could hear Harry calling after Ginny from the Room. He was yelling for her to come back inside in a little bit, but Tonks knew that Ginny wasn’t listening. Now that she was free, she’d never go back. When they entered the seventh floor corridor, screams and wand-blasts filled the air. Making her way through the bedlam to a broken window, Tonks looked out onto the grounds, scanning the area for signs of her husband and his squad of fighters.
As Ginny arrived at her side, Tonks spotted Aberforth through the dust and smoke. He was running through the corridor, wand raised in one hand as he wielded a sword in the other. Augusta had told them he’d been heading for the grounds when she left the Hog’s Head. Registering that fact, Tonks shouted after him, desperate for news of her husband.
When she asked if he’d seen Remus, Aberforth called back over his shoulder on the run. He told her that Remus was fighting Dolohov the last time he saw him and then the gray-haired wizard disappeared again into the chaos.
Fighting Dolohov? Tonks repeated in her head, her stomach tightening in fear at the thought.
Vaguely she heard Ginny trying to console her, insisting he’d be fine, but she had to see for herself. Harry, Ron and Hermione seemed to appear from nowhere. Knowing Ginny would be safe with them, she tore off into the fray.
Frantically she searched the castle, deflecting spells and throwing her own with a vengeance as she ran. Racing down the stairs, floor by floor, Tonks searched the wreckage frantically for any sign of her husband. When she descended the grand staircase to the main Entrance Hall, finally she spotted him.
Apparently he and the band of wizards he’d been leading, never made it out onto the grounds. He was pinned down behind an overturned statue and still taking heavy fire from Dolohov. Several others were fighting the small faction of Death Eaters that had blocked their path to the heavy, wooden, front doors of the castle.
Concentrating her efforts on how she could help Remus, Tonks quickly dropped to the floor. Half crawling, half lying on the floor, she carefully eased her way through the rubble, working her way to the right. When she thought she’d improved her vantage point enough, she raised her wand and shot a curse at Dolohov.
It was a direct hit to the chest. The Death Eater’s body crumpled and he fell to the ground. Whether he was dead or just injured, Tonks didn’t know, nor did she care. He was down and, for the moment, her husband was safe.Turning away from Dolohov’s heap of a body, she looked up to see Remus running toward her. When their eyes met relief washed over her, but instantly she knew by the panic-stricken look on his face and the flush to his cheeks he was enraged.
“What the bloody hell are you doing here?!” Remus demanded angrily over the sounds of the raging battle around them.
“I…I’m sorry, Remus,” she told him as she stood to meet him, her wand poised defensively in her hand, “but I had to come.”
“No, you didn’t!” he contradicted her, moving to shield her so that she was positioned between the wall and his body. “You were supposed to stay with Teddy! What about him? What about our son?!”
Before she could answer, a hex soared over their heads, blasting a hole into a small section of stone in the wall behind them. Dust and tiny pieces of rock rained down upon them as Remus covered her head with his hands and pressed his body protectively against hers.
When the dust had cleared, the Death Eater that had attacked them shouted again, sending another curse flying in their direction. Ducking to dodge the new wand blast, Remus grabbed her by the arm and quickly pulled her into nearby a storage closet and sealed the door. From inside the small space, Tonks could hear the battle continuing out in the Hall. The attacking wizard cursed loudly as they seemed to disappear from the Entrance Hall. Another blast sounded and she guessed the wizard had been confronted by another freedom fighter, because he never attempted to enter the closet to get to them.
“You shouldn’t be here!” Remus reiterated sharply after reinforcing the spell he’d placed on the door.
Tonks winced at her husband’s anger before slowly meeting his gaze, her expression desperate and her eyes welling with tears.
“Please…just let me explain, Remus,” she begged leaning her back against the door as she raised her hands in front of her chest. “I would never endanger our baby, you know that.”
“Well, where is…”
“Teddy’s with my mum,” she interrupted him quickly. “I promise…he’s safe.”
“That’s not enough! I want you both to be safe!” Remus shot back. “You were supposed to stay home. You were supposed to stay away from here. We’ve been over this! What were you thinking?”
“I was thinking…I love you,” she replied, her voice dropping, her lower lip trembling as her eyes pleaded for understanding. “I love you and I couldn’t let you do this without telling you one more time.”
Remus could do nothing but stare back at his wife in shock. She’d risked everything, simply to tell him she loved him and the very idea of it left him momentarily speechless.
Tonks watched as he continued to stare. It was as though he was torn, unsure whether he should be furious with her for the chance she’d taken or grateful for the sacrifice she’d been willing to make for him.
Unable to look into her eyes without melting, his anger gradually seemed to evaporate. When he finally opened his mouth to speak though, his words wouldn’t come. It was as though they were caught in his throat. Instead he took her by the hands, pulled her from the door and into his arms.
She began to cry as she clung to him, her body shaking with the effort to breathe through her sobs. Holding her tightly, he stroked her hair and finally began to speak, whispering tender words of love into her ear.
When she began to calm down, he finally pulled back, sliding his hands up her body until he was cupping her face in his palms. Tears still streaked her cheeks but they’d slowed with his comforting words and embrace. For a few seconds, time seemed frozen. Their eyes locked momentarily and then he leaned in and kissed her. At first it was tender, but soon it became desperate. It was deep, passionate and intense like it was their very first kiss…or as though they knew it could be their last.
When Remus finally broke away, he leaned his forehead to hers. Their hearts were pounding, their breathing labored and erratic. Gently he tilted his head, nuzzling their noses together before kissing her lightly and pulling back a few inches from her lips.
“I love you,” Remus breathed. “You need to believe me...nothing will ever change that.”
“I believe you,” she nodded, her lip still quivering slightly. “I think I…I just needed to hear you say it.”
Remus nodded in response, forcing a small smile as he brushed the tears from her cheeks with the back of his fingers.
“Now that I have…” he began gently, “we have to go. We can’t stay in here while we’re needed out there.”
“I know,” she replied softly as she nodded. “I just wish…”
“You just wish things were different,” he nodded, before she could finish.
“Yeah,” she admitted as she continued to hold his gaze.
“I wish things were different too,” he told her sincerely. “I wish there wasn’t a battle raging outside,” he added, pointing at the back of the door. “But the reality is…there is. We’re at war, and we have to fight. We have to finish this now so that future wizarding generations don’t have to live under a shroud of fear and darkness like we do. We have to fight…for Teddy.”
Her lip trembled as she nodded her acceptance, but rather than moving out of the way, she remained pressed against the door, blocking their one and only exit. When she didn’t move, he placed his hand on her shoulder comfortingly.
“Please, you have to move aside, honey,” he coaxed her as he looked into her eyes. “We have to go…” Remus went on as he raised his wand hand to unseal the door. “I have to get back out there and…you need to go home now.”
“Wait…” she begged, her hands going to his chest, fisting them in his robes as she searched his eyes. “Promise me that we’ll be together when this is all over.”
“Baby, please…” he sighed, his eyes closing as his face tilted downward toward the floor.
“Promise me, Remus,” she persisted, the desperation returning to her voice as she placed her fingers under his chin and lifted his face to meet hers.
“I can’t promise that,” he told her softly, his eyes opening as he looked down at his wife. “You know I can’t promise that.”
“Yes, you can,” she insisted, nodding as though simply saying the words would make it true. “Promise me or…or I’m not leaving you,” she threatened stubbornly.
“You have to,” he countered. “This isn’t just about us.”
“Right now, it is…please…” she begged. “Just say it. I need to hear you to say it.”
“Alright,” he nodded kissing her gently before releasing a long, tired sigh. “When all of this ends, we’ll be together, baby. I promise you on my life.”
Rising on the tips of her toes, she wrapped both arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.
“I love you, Remus…I love you…”
“I love you too,” he answered. “Now…” he said, reluctantly pulling her arms from his body, “it’s time for you to keep your promise…it’s time for you to go.”
When they re-entered the Entrance Hall, the battle seemed to have escalated. Grabbing her hand, Remus pulled her to the floor and they crouched behind a large piece of stone that had been blasted from the wall to their left.
“I’m going to draw their fire,” Remus told her. “When I do…I want you to run. Just get out of here as fast as you can.”
Tonks opened her mouth to protest, but Remus placed his fingers over her lips to stop her.
“You promised…” he reminded her. “If you love me, you’ll keep your promise.”
Tears filled her eyes, but she fought the temptation to let them flow. Resolutely she nodded her agreement and then waited for his signal to move. With a final kiss, Remus burst from their hiding place and raced across the Hall and away from Tonks. As she watched him go, she bit her lip…his final words to her on constant replay in her mind.
You promised…If you love me, you’ll keep your promise. You promised…If you love me…
“Run!” Remus shouted to her, breaking her from her temporary daze. “Get out of here, now!”
When she registered his voice, Tonks tore off for the staircase. As she ran up the marble steps, he moved to cover her from the bottom. Reaching the top, she turned back just in time to see him fall.
Dolohov had been revived by another Death Eater and the two of them had cornered Remus. Not wanting to leave Tonks unprotected and exposed, he stayed out in the open, drawing their attack…sacrificing himself so that his wife could live.
“NO!” Tonks screamed, a horrified mixture of anguish and disbelief overtaking her.
Without thinking, she reacted to the scene before her. Charging back down the stairs, wand raised, she unmercifully unleashed her wrath upon the Death Eaters.
“Avada Kedavra!” she screamed.
The Death Eater at Dolohov’s side, slumped and then fell to the stone floor, his cold eyes locked in an eternal look of surprise. Dolohov dove to the side, heading for the cover of a mangled suit of armor.
Dropping back to the floor, Tonks grabbed Remus under the arms and struggled to drag him behind the large piece of stone they’d used earlier as a fort. Sobbing she pulled him into her arms and cradled his head against her chest.
“You promised…” she cried softly as she rocked his lifeless body back and forth. “You promised we’d be together in the end.”
For a few moments, she continued to hold him, blocking out the battle around them as she kissed his still-warm lips and stroked his graying hair that she loved so much. Lost in her own world of grief, she didn’t notice the witch approaching her small refuge until it was much too late.
When Tonks finally heard someone moving through the rubble, she grabbed for her wand, only to find it missing. She’d dropped it as she’d pulled Remus across the floor. Realization dawned and regret pooled in her stomach as the face of their baby flashed quickly in her mind.
Looking up into the dusty air above her, Tonks saw the face of her own aunt looking down at her. Bellatrix had apparently been watching the scene play out between them from the edge of the Hall and now, she’d moved in to finish it.
“Hello, Nymphadora,” she simpered, looking down at the young woman with a maniacal smirk.
“Aunt Bellatrix, please,” Tonks begged, hoping that her words wouldn’t fall on deaf ears. “My son needs me…Please, just let me go…”
“Oh, now, why would I do that?” she asked, her smirk spreading into a full blown grin. “After all…Auntie Bella wants to help you get your wish.”
“W-wish?” Tonks stammered. “Wh-what wish?”
“I heard you,” Bellatrix went on cryptically.
“What did you hear?” Tonks shook her head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about! If you just let me go…”
“I heard you crying out a moment ago…” the witch interrupted. “You were whining about a promise…You made the werewolf promise you’d be together in the end. As pathetic as that sounds, I know he’d want to keep his promise,” Bella mocked her, nodding toward the body of her dead husband. “We can’t let old Moony down, now, can we?”
“No, wait!” Tonks shouted, raising her free hand in defense.
“Enjoy your reunion, Nymphadora…”
Tonks had only a second to register Bella’s wand pointed at her before a green light was rushing toward her. It was an odd sort of sensation as it hit her in the chest. It didn’t hurt, just sort of washed over her…leaving a warm, almost pleasant sensation in its wake.
In the next instant…the world went black and Nymphadora “Tonks” Lupin was gone.
“And then, what happened, Daddy?” came the soft sound of an innocent voice.
Broken from his train of thought, Teddy Lupin pulled his eyes from the large, double-sized gravestone before him to look down at the young boy at his side. For a moment, Teddy paused, mesmerized temporarily by the sight of his child.
It was a beautiful summer day and the sunlight played off the little boy’s hair, giving him an almost angelic look. His child’s expression was one of amazement, as though he were completely in awe of the story his father had just been telling him.
Everyone had always said that his son resembled his father, Remus. Now, Teddy couldn’t help agreeing as he took in his light brown hair and pale gray eyes. Every picture he’d ever seen of his father flashed through his mind, instantly confirming their claims. Wishing he could have known him, Teddy’s chest tightened and a lump formed in his throat.
In place of a father and mother, Teddy Lupin had been raised on memories. The unfortunate truth was that memories of moments from their lives were all that remained of his parents. Sadly, they weren’t even his memories. They were the images he’d pictured in his mind as he’d listened to the countless stories about them as he was growing up.
So many stories told by so many people…his Grandmother Andromeda, his godfather, Harry and his wife, Ginny, the Weasley’s…even some of his teachers at school shared their past and the moments they shared with his parents while they were alive. After hearing the stories so many times, in his mind it almost felt as if he’d known them, been there and experienced their life with them. Filling in the missing details with his imagination, the tales he’d heard had grown from wonderful stories to near legends over the years.
Now, as a grown man, it was his turn to be the storyteller. Determined to keep the legend alive, he vowed to make sure his son knew that once, a man named Remus and a woman nicknamed Tonks lived, loved and died…
“Daddy?” the little boy asked, his brow furrowing in the extended silence when Teddy didn’t respond.
“What happened next?”
A small smile curved Teddy’s lips as he looked into the expectant, wide-eyed face of his son.
“I think you’ve heard enough for one day,” Teddy replied as the boy’s shoulders slumped. “Mummy and your little sister will be wondering if we ran off to join the Order.”
“You’re already in the Order,” the boy countered, his lower lip drooping into a small pout, “and Mummy says I’m too little.”
“Oh!” Teddy said in mock astonishment. “You’re right!”
“So, what?” Teddy teased, enjoying himself.
“So, what happened next, Daddy?”
“Oh, that!” Teddy replied with a grin. “Let’s see…um…The bad wizards went away and… I grew up and met your Mummy.”
“That’s not how it goes,” the little boy protested, shaking his head.
“Yes, it does,” he insisted, laughing as he watched his son cross his little arms over his chest while his soft brown hair turned a deep shade of magenta.
“Nuh uh, Daddy…” he shook his head adamantly. “That’s not the right way to tell it. I’m gonna ask Great-grandma Meda,” he told his father. “She’ll tell it the good way.”
“You think so?”
“Yep,” he nodded. “She always tells me good stories about Grandma and Grandpa Lupin. She says when the baby gets big enough…she’ll tell her too.”
“You know, son,” Teddy smiled, ruffling the little boy’s hair with his hand. “I just bet she will.”
With that, he took the boy’s small hand in his, turned away from the gravestone and started to head back.
“Where are we going, now, Daddy?” the child asked, looking up at Teddy eagerly with the pale gray of eyes of his grandfather.
“Home,” Teddy answered, guiding his son as they weaved their way through the various stones and mausoleums.
“When we get home, can we tell Mummy the story about Grandma and Grandpa fighting the bad wizards again?”
“Do you think she’d like that?” Teddy asked, smiling as he watched the pride blossom in his son’s eyes.
“Oh yes!” he exclaimed in reply. “But…maybe don’t tell her about the really bad wizard…”
“Oh?” Teddy replied, curiously, “and why is that?”
“It might be too scary for her.”
“Ah…good thinking,” Teddy winked at him with a grin.
In one fluid motion, Teddy reached down and swept his four year old son up off his feet and tossed him into the air. The boy laughed as Teddy caught him in mid-air and then wrapped him snuggly in his arms.
“Ready to go, buddy?”
“Alright…cover your eyes…” he told him as he’d done dozens of times before when they’d apparated together.
Obediently, the little boy did as he was told. His chubby little hand rose to cover his eyes while he wrapped the other arm firmly around his father’s neck.
“Got ‘em covered?”
“Okay…start your countdown,” Teddy told him as he held his son securely on his hip. “When you get to zero, we’ll be home.”
“Five…four…” briefly the boy shifted his fingers, just enough to see out through the crack and peer at his father.
“Hey, I saw that…” Teddy chuckled as his tickled the boy.
“Daddy, stop…” his son giggled as he squirmed in his fathers arms.
“No peeking,” his father teased. “Remember, those are the rules of this trick.”
“Okay, I remember,” the little boy grinned as he closed the gap in his fingers and continued his countdown. “Three…two…”
He never finished. Before he could say the final numbers, his father held him tightly and they apparated home.
Over the years to come, they’d make new memories and share new moments. The darkness that had once covered their world and claimed so many lives would never be permitted to rise again. In that knowledge, there was security. In that knowledge, the wizarding world had finally found peace.