Teddy stared at his father, his mouth agape. “You said those things to mom and lived to tell the tale?”
Remus nodded and stared at his hands. “I am not proud of it. I was a coward. I was afraid. I think, the worst part, looking back, is that I had convinced myself, even if only for a moment, that I didn’t want you. It is truly, an unimaginable notion, to me now.” His eyes sparkled with love for his beautiful boy. “I am blessed that the gods paid my ignorant words no heed. I am thankful that well-meaning friends intervened to help me to find my way. You know that your Godfather Harry played a part in that, and-”
“What the hell?” Teddy pulled a swiss-cheesed photograph from the album, and eyed his father through one of the charred holes. “What type of sick person – would do this?”
“Ah, well,” Remus took the photo from his son’s hand, “this was done by someone filled with regret.”
Remus lay on the couch as was his habit these days, his face swollen from bouts of crying.
He needed her.
Yes. He needed her.
She was not a mistake. She was the best thing that had ever happened to him. And he had savagely betrayed her when she had needed him the most. He had let his childhood fears get the best of him, let his anger and rage against his lycanthropy control him. He had longed for children with all of his heart, but swore that he would never allow himself to become a father. His own childhood had been filled with agonizing pain and terror, and the thought of bringing a child into the world, condemned to the same fate, was unbearable. In his mind, he would be no better than the werewolf who had contaminated him when he was a boy.
He had blamed her, accused her, but only to hide the painful truth from himself. He was the one that was responsible for this. He was the one that was tainted, not her, and he was the one who had dropped the burden of responsibility. And she hated him. He hadn’t even tried to read her thoughts, and yet still she had projected the words as clearly into his mind as if she had used Legilimency. I hate you, Remus Lupin. I hate you more than I have ever hated anyone in my whole life. Worst of all, he knew that he deserved her hatred.
At the first test of their love, he had dismally, and completely, failed her.
He drew his wand and aimed it at the happy picture of himself and Tonks on the opposite wall. An angry jet of light smashed the glass and burned a hole where his head had been moments before. The moving image of Remus had dodged the first blast, and Lupin smiled cruelly as he re-aimed at himself, and sent off another blast. Now photo-bound Nymphadora was staring, shocked, at the scorch mark where her partner used to be. After a few moments, she shrugged and sat down, looking bored.
Remus sat up when the front door burst open. Molly Weasley stormed into the room, her face livid.
“What the hell did you do to Tonks?” She snapped.
“What do you mean?” Remus said, eyes wide. “Have you seen her?”
“No. Poor girl left me a note – a note I tell you! Read this!” She shoved a crumpled piece of paper into Lupin’s hand. He opened it carefully, and read and reread the words until he had them committed to memory:
I came by to say bye but you weren’t in. Things didn’t go so well with Remus, and I’m leaving so I can deal with this myself. I was hungry so I helped myself to your soup (delicious!) Thanks for all your help, and please don’t worry!!
“So? What happened? Did you put her out on the street?” Molly raged.
“I…um…we…” Remus’ mind was frozen. He didn’t know what to say. A feeling of dread chilled him. I didn’t put her out on the street, did I?
“Imagine, pregnant and alone, in her state! What the hell were you thinking?” Molly was red-faced and pointing at Remus accusatorily. “Tell me you didn’t get upset when she told you she was carrying your child! You tell me you didn’t, because I expected a hell of a lot more from you Remus Lupin! I even told her she could trust you! I told her you would support her!”
Remus closed his eyes and placed a hand over his face, sinking back down into the couch, his head in sudden pain. “Oh god…” he murmured.
Molly understood this to be an undeniable admission of complete guilt. “I can’t believe this! I am simply…disgusted!” She threw up her hands and paced across the room, muttering under her breath. She did a double-take when she passed the damaged picture on the wall. She stared at it for several moments.
“Did you do this?” Molly asked. Remus didn’t reply, but Molly easily read the truth on his face.
“Why?” She pressed.
“I was a fool. We argued. I blamed her for everything. I let my fears get the better of me.”
“Well!” Molly blustered, looking around the small flat, taking in the dirty dishes, the piles of clothes, the thick layer of dust on all the furniture. “WELL THIS IS--!” She threw up her hands. Then, with a loud huff, she immediately started cleaning. “You cannot have the house looking like this! Your easy bachelor days are long over, Remus John Lupin, and you had best remember that! She’ll be pregnant and tired, swollen ankles by now I suspect - I mean, I carried seven children and never complained a whit about the housework, but women nowadays expect a man to carry his own weight – and here you are, leaving the place an utter niffler-nest and expecting poor Tonks to pick up the disaster when she gets back!” Molly swept and dusted with the fury of a hundred angry wasps, but Remus was pricked by her words.
“She’s not coming back.” He said dully.
“Of course she’s coming back!” Molly hissed, taking out her frustrations on a fingerprint on the fridge. “You are going to Andromeda’s house and you are getting your wife and you are bringing her home this instant! Get up! Up!” She swatted at him with the broom. “Dressed and shaved and OUT the door –”
“Molly-” He began.
“NO! No more nonsense from you! You’ve made a fine enough mess of things as it is!”
“I will hear NONE of it!” She thrust the broom into his shins to move him along, but he resisted and snatched the broom from her hands.
“WAIT! Listen to me!” She froze and glared at him with enough chill to frost the Amazon ten times over. “Molly… I went there. I told her that I was sorry. I told her that I wanted our child, that I wanted to be a family, no matter what that meant.” His voice cracked, and the tears prickled his face, but he didn’t care. He needed to tell someone of his terrible grief. “She wouldn’t listen to m-me.” Molly’s eyes softened as he began to cry. Remus stared at the floor, unable to let her see his true shame. “She said, no… she said, never… she doesn’t want me in her life… anymore…” he trembled, “… I told her, I begged her to let me try to be a good father, I told her I was so sorry for what I said, but she didn’t want me anymore. I drove her too far away, and… now I’ve lost her forever and I’m dying inside, Molly.”
His entire body shook with sobs as Molly wrapped her arms around him.
“I’m dying inside without you too.” Said a shaky voice from the open doorway. Both Molly and Remus spun around to see Dora standing there, her face soaked with tears. “Honey… I’m home?” She sobbed loudly, and Molly had to leap out of Remus’ way when he raced to his wife and clutched her to him, and cried with joy and overwhelming relief. His hands ran over her swollen stomach, trembling at the miracle of life within her. He fell to his knees and kissed her stomach over and over again, their words a jumbled litany of tears and ‘I love yous’ and ‘I’m sorrys’.
Molly mopped at her face, utterly moved by the beautiful sight before her, and muttered into her handkerchief, “I knew she’d come back.”
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