Chapter 2 : A Goodbye Way
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“What do you think about children, Remus?” Nymphadora Lupin asked, her violet eyes sparkling in the candlelight. She had hardly touched a bite of the beautiful dinner he had prepared. Her appetite had been vacant in recent days.
Remus smiled. “I like them very much. You know how much I enjoy teaching. Well, when I am fortunate enough to find work.”
“I always thought you would make a great father.” She blurted out, blushing. She was a little nervous, that much she could admit to herself. The timing was all wrong, they had just recently been married, but she knew… somehow, she knew, that the Remus Lupin she loved would welcome the secret she longed to reveal. Tonight she would finally tell him that she was pregnant. They could do this. They would do it together. She gazed lovingly at him and was surprised to see that he was frowning.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“It’s just that.... well if you are asking if we could one day start a family, you need to know that I could never give you children, Nymphadora.”
“Oh I think you could…” she said light-heartedly, “in fact, I’ll bet on it!”
“No.” he said soberly. He placed his fork down neatly, and sighed. “You misunderstand me. It’s not that I cannot have children. I would not have children. It would be wrong.”
She held her breath.
“I’m so sorry.” His eyes were truly sad. “I thought we had discussed this before we got married. Perhaps I wasn’t clear.”
“We discussed your condition…” She was barely able to hide the irritation in her voice.
“Yes, and I thought it was understood that I am not a suitable father for a child. If I brought a child into this world, he or she would be in danger every single day of their life. I am a werewolf…”
“Oh please, I know what you are! I’m with you day and night and I’m not in danger.” Tonks snapped.
“You are a grown woman, with skills and abilities that far surpass those of most wizards and witches your age. You do remember how long it took for you to convince me that you could handle it, if things ever went wrong?”
“But nothing has gone wrong Remus!”
“But it could! Imagine a child! A helpless child!” He was exasperated. “Imagine what could happen. What if I lost control? What if I did something that I could never undo? I would die, Nymphadora! I still worry about you every single day. I still wonder if I’ve done the right thing by becoming a part of your life, by endangering you, and I will not feel that way about a child too.”
“I’m sorry that being with me is making you so fucking miserable.”
“That’s not what I mean and you know it! I love you and I worry about you because I am, because - good god, Dora! You know what a werewolf is capable of! Think! Would you, really, truly, trust me alone with our child?”
“Yes!” She exclaimed.
Remus shook his head slowly. It was as if she had just said that she still believed in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. She hated it when he acted all old and wise, like he knew the world better than she possibly could – it made her feel immature and stupid. And mad as hell. She sprang to her feet, her chair falling over with a mighty crash.
“You love thinking things will go wrong, don’t you? Well you have a sick little imagination, Remus! You actually enjoy reminding me over and over and over that you’re dangerous and that wanting to be with you is a death wish – I am so fucking TIRED of it!” She smashed her fist on the table. Remus’ calm expression drove her to madness, and filled her with new fury as she continued her tirade. “I know what you are, and I’ve accepted it, so stop this whole ‘oh feel sorry for me, I’m a miserable werewolf’ bullshit! I’m not buying it! No more fucking Remus Lupin pity club! I’ve had enough of that crap!”
Remus leapt to his feet in one quick, unexpected motion and she staggered backwards in response. For a moment, she thought she had gone too far – a prickle at the back of her neck, something in his face, and the tenseness of his muscles all warned her that the ‘danger’ he was always talking about was actually about to occur. Then, as if he realized this too, he froze, and took a deep breath that relaxed his body before her eyes. When he moved again, he came around the table and calmly righted her chair.
“Please. Sit down.” He gestured.
She huffed and sat down, making sure to stare away from him. She felt him kneel beside her chair, his hands folded on her lap.
“Look at me, Dora.” He said softly.
“No.” She could feel his eyes looking slightly up at her, a classic posture of acquiescence. His lack of fervor was driving her mad. Why did he have to be so damn calm and patronizing? After a few moments, his silence unnerved her, and she turned to look at him, but instead of calm detachment, she saw tears. He was looking at her in a terrible way. A goodbye way, like they would never see each other again. Oh no. Not good.
“I don’t want to lose you.” He began hoarsely. “But even though it may cost me this marriage, I still cannot have a child. I will never, ever condemn a child to suffer the way I have suffered. You understand this?” His lip was quivering. “If you want a child, you may leave me and choose another man to marry. Another man to give you a child, and a family. If I gave you a child, it would be an abomination.”
The horrible, sinking feeling in Tonks’ stomach was unbearable. An abomination? She wanted to cry, she wanted to run away. She wanted to hit him. Instead, she sat there, frozen in time, feeling more alone than she ever had in her whole life. This can’t be happening. What happened to the happy ending? What happened to the valor of two people in love against the world? It’s not supposed to be like this…She felt so betrayed she couldn’t even stand to look at her own husband.
“Our baby is not an abomination.” She whispered, her hand sliding protectively over her stomach.
She felt him recoil as a shock of realization shot through him. He was on his feet immediately, his mouth agape, staring at her in horror. “Yes,” she taunted, “I’m pregnant.”
“You’re pregnant.” He repeated. “What do you mean, you’re pregnant? I thought we had taken precautions! I thought I told you that a child between us was unacceptable!” Lupin’s face was twisted in a terrible scowl, the likes of which Tonks had never seen before.
She picked up her tea, and sipped it slowly, willing herself not to burst into tears, squeezing the cup between her hands as if it had the power to strengthen her, as if the painted porcelain’s warmth could hold her together. “Unacceptable, meaning what exactly?”
“Meaning… meaning…” his hands shot through his grey-specked hair and glared into the kitchen sink of the small flat, as if the answer lay there. All he found was a stray slice of carrot, and a dirty scrub brush. Decay and waste. Everything was, to him, decay and waste and danger. Perhaps he was too old for this. Perhaps he had seen too much, and Tonks had not seen or done enough. How could he have been such a fool to convince himself that he was the man for her? She was a CHILD herself, in age, in experience, in energy. She did not see the world as it was. She saw it as she wanted it to be, and such a mentality was sheer madness when death was quite possibly right outside their door. Remus suddenly felt trapped.
He turned on Tonks, his voice rising as if not his own. “UNACCEPTABLE meaning we cannot have a child! There is no time for this, no place for this, the world, in case you haven’t realized it, is at WAR, Dora! And you expect me to leap for joy because you’re pregnant with the curse of my child? How could you inflict this,” he gestured to his facial scars, “on an innocent baby? It’s cruel to the extreme! I am no better than the man who bit ME if you thrust a child into this world, making a new monster for people to fear, a new monster to suffer the curse! I cannot BELIEVE-”
“I DID NOT MAKE THIS BABY BY MYSELF YOU SELFISH SON OF A BITCH!” Her teacup smashed against the wall. Fuck calm. Fuck reason. HE was so far out of line that she did not even recognize the man she had married. “If you’re too chicken to raise this baby then I am SURE I c-can do it myself! And how DARE you call our child a m-monster?” She spat, her words coming so quickly that she was tripping all over them herself.
Remus began to pace throughout the kitchen. Tonks stared at the table, at a loss for words. What did one say when everything unraveled? She thought of the innocent child she carried and how the secret of it had filled her with joy just hours before. Now, that joy was long gone. Her husband stopped in front of her, and she could hear his heavy breathing…the silence dragged out as he decided what to say. This is it, Remus, she pleaded silently, say something wonderful and make it all okay…
“How could you do this?” He snapped.
“I had help.” She hissed, tears stinging her eyes. Why was her courage failing her now? Why did she have to turn into a weeping little girl when it counted the most? It would have been better to continue to rage at him, but the energy had been sucked out of her as surely as if a dementor had entered the room. She felt like a shell, full of nothing but a crust of fear and despair. She was dying inside. And he was killing her.
“Did you not learn about nocturnal beasts at Hogwarts?” His voice was clipped and quiet, more Snape than Lupin. “They teach it in third year - it wasn’t that long ago for you. Children born to werewolves will be werewolves.” She had never heard him sound so patronizing before – it was a mean, confidence-shaking voice. Her heart raced. She had never seen this man before. She felt as if she was pregnant with the child of a total stranger.
“Things are different because of wolfsbane.” Her voice was barely audible. She had wanted him embrace her. She had expected his understanding, his support. Now, she felt like the enemy, and her arguments were hollow, meaningless. Idle words to fill the space, and nothing more. “It’s not like when you were a kid.”
“It doesn’t matter! What matters is that – that - goddammit Dora! We’re talking about bringing another werewolf into the world, a blood-thirsty, violent, out-of-control werewolf! You’re carrying a dangerous creature, a pitiable child!”
His words made her feel dirty and she loathed it. For the first time in her life, she understood why marriages failed, how one person could take the life of another and not regret it at all. She locked eyes with Remus, willing him to read her mind. I hate you, Remus Lupin, she thought. I hate you more than I have ever hated anyone in my whole life.
If he had understood, she couldn’t tell, but he suddenly growled in frustration and swept his hand across the table, sending the dishes flying and smashing around the kitchen. Dora’s head was spinning, nothing felt real, nothing felt right. The way he was acting, it was like someone else had taken over the man she knew and loved. Or at least she had thought she knew him, but now she saw a terrible side of him, a side of him that betrayed her to her very core. I’ve got to get out of here, her mind screamed. She had no will left to fight, no energy left to carry on. She needed to get away.
She wordlessly headed out of the kitchen and into the living room. Remus was hot on her heels.
“Where are you going?” He snapped.
“Leave me alone.”
He grabbed her by the shoulder as she reached for her cloak. “You are not leaving! We need to get you to Severus right away – he may have a potion – it might not be too late.”
She spun around, shocked. “What potion? Severus… not too late for... what… ?” She wrenched herself out of his grasp, horrified when it slowly came together in her mind. He didn’t just suggest that I terminate the pregnancy. He didn’t!
“Something must be done!” He urged. “This is a mistake, the magnitude of which you have no idea… Nymphadora, you cannot possibly understand…”
She whipped his hand across his face hard enough to leave a scarlet mark. “A mistake?” She hissed, tears streaming down her cheeks, “A mistake? That’s all this is to you? I guess I’m a mistake to you too, aren’t I Remus? I guess being with me was a mistake, marrying me was a mistake, and taking me to your goddamn bed was nothing more than a fucking mistake!”
“No.” He was no longer shouting, and his lip trembled. The shock of the slap and the rage of her words seemed to move him. “That’s not true.” He reached out a hand to caress her face. “None of that is even close to true.”
“Don’t you DARE touch me!” She jerked away. “Thanks for helping me understand what a fuck-up and what a worthless piece of shit I am! It’s good to know that your child and I weren't worth sticking it out for!” She roughly wiped away her tears with her sleeve. She saw Remus’ face twist with remorse, but it was too little, too late.
“Dora… I…” His voice cracked.
Her voice was suddenly icy. “Like you said, I did this so it’s my problem, okay? I’ll deal with the abomination.” She flung open the flat door and stepped out into the hall.
“Wait,” he reached out, “where are you going?”
Where you can’t find me, she thought. And with a crack, she Disapparated.
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