Chapter 1 : One
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A/N: During the Great HPFF Server Crash of 2008, I lost quite a large number of my reviews (about 400 altogether *tries not to cry*). In my efforts to get over this, I'm posting a new story so I can go off and find a pretty banner at TDA and cheer myself up a bit. I've had this plot bunny kicking around in my head since I first heard this song earlier this year - it immediately screamed angsty Remus/Tonks to me while I was listening to Missy's wonderful CD (seriously, go buy it) - and I finally got a chance to finish writing it now that "Unsinkable" is complete. I hope you enjoy.
Remus Lupin arrived outside his little flat in a terrible rage, stumbling a little as his feet landed on solid ground. He stormed up the steps and slammed the door open, kicking it shut. He grabbed the first thing at hand as he came into the tiny, cramped little flat that he'd once shared with his wife, and threw it at the wall, watching the vase smash into a thousand shards. The small act of destruction did nothing to relieve his feelings, and he threw himself into a chair. He clutched at his hair for a moment, feeling the fury and humiliation course through him, and then grabbed for the inviting oblivion of firewhisky that awaited him on the table.
How dare he! How dare that boy talk to him like that! As if he knew anything of life, of love, of heartache! How dare he call him a coward, after the life Remus had led! How could Harry... How could he!
Harry was right, you know, whispered the reasonable part of his mind, the part that the wolf inside him had never touched. You left her. And Harry knows quite as much about heartache as you do.
Quite as much as your son will know, because his father abandoned him. At least James did not go willingly from his son.
Remus took another long drink, hoping to drown out that voice. He could still hear Harry's voice in his head, calling him a coward. He wished, not for the first time, that he'd never met Tonks, never fallen in love with her, never married and created a life with her. His miserable existence had been so much easier without her.
Oh my son look at what I've done
But I am learning still
Know that I am learning still
His child… She was having his child. How could he have let this happen? How could he risk the life of an innocent child? He had been so stupid, so stupid to let the wondrous novelty of Dora's love convince him that he was more than what he was, that he could build a life with her. Her own parents disapproved of him. He was nothing but a monster in their eyes, in his own eyes. How could he go back, knowing what he'd done to his own child?
And how could the child ever forgive his father for abandoning him? Only a monster would leave his own child, knowing that it might be born with the same curse that he lived under.
Remus put his head down, hiding his face in his hands. He deserved every word Harry had said; he was a coward, and the child would be ashamed of his cowardice, even if he were not ashamed of his father's monstrous condition. How could he not be?
And from the back of his mind came the voice again, calm and composed in the sea of rage, shame and fear. Dora does not fear you. Dora does not find you monstrous. Dora would not let your child be ashamed of you.
But you threw her away. What kind of a monster does that?
He threw his glass against the wall, and it smashed into pieces, the shards glittering in the guttering candlelight, leaving a wet whiskey stain on the wall.
And oh my wife you are my life
And I am burning still
Know that I am burning for you still
Dora… The only woman he’d ever loved, the only woman to ever love him, and he had abandoned her, pregnant and alone and in the middle of a war. What kind of a man did that? What kind of husband? How could she forgive him? By rights she should not even love him any more, but he could only pray that she did, little as he deserved it.
Stumbling from the chair, he kicked past the detritus that littered the floor. He had not cleaned since she'd left. There didn't seem any point. Should a monster live in a mansion, or a den?
He went to the small bathroom where he could splash some water on his face. He stared at his own reddened eyes and lined face for a moment, wishing he'd done things differently, wishing he were someone different, someone his wife and child could be proud of. A ray of hope shot through him, spurred on from that small voice that spoke to him with reason when reason had left him. He could start now, start becoming the man he knew he ought to be. He couldn't take away the wolf, but he could take away the monster.
He could go beg forgiveness from his wife, start over. Be the man she loved, the man he wanted her to love.
Remus went outside and stepped once more into the suffocating darkness of Apparition.
Oh my God how you make it hard
Not to pick the apple
Pick the apple
And Lord I long to give it back
He stood outside the gate to her parents' home, staring at the darkened windows of the cottage, knowing she was inside. She had gone to stay with them after he'd told her he could not be with her anymore. She'd only shaken her head and called him a fool, and as she had walked out the door, he'd wanted to call her back, to ask her to forgive him, but his voice was frozen with fear. He'd told himself as he watched her gracefully turn over one shoulder, Apparating away, that she was better off without him, their baby was better off without him.
Now he stood at her parents' door and fear froze him again. How could she take him back? How could she ever forgive him for leaving her, leaving their child? He realized that he had one hand held up in front of the door, ready to knock. His brain was stuck with fears of the wolf, of being a father, of passing his condition on to a tiny baby, of not truly being loved by his wife, but something else was controlling his feet, his hand, and he heard the knocking as if from far away.
A light came on upstairs and he saw the pale heart-shaped face that his heart knew so well appear in the window. He could see the recognition in her eyes, and then she disappeared, but the light was still on. He stepped back from the door, waiting, praying that he would have the courage to do what was right.
And I was on shaky land
Lost and unsure I opened my hand
And she held it like sinking sand
The door was flung open and she was there, wearing a ratty old t-shirt of his with her bare legs sticking out underneath, her belly gently rounded, and she stared at him with her chin high. Her hair was a delicate pink, rumpled with sleep, and she did not look surprised to see him. He realized that she'd been expecting him to come for her, that she'd had faith in him when he'd lost his, and he felt his eyes tear up.
He did not deserve her. Harry had been right, she had been right: He was a coward and a fool, but he did not care about any of his worries any more, if she would only take him back.
He held out a hand to her but hesitated, struck with sudden insecurity. Could he really expect her to forgive him after he'd abandoned her and their baby?
She stood and stared at him for a moment in silence, taking him in with an expressionless face, and then she saw the tears in his eyes.
Then she reached out and clasped his outstretched hand in her own.
And all, all, all of my light is for you
And home, home's anywhere you are too
So take this one fallen man on his knees
She pulled him closer, and Remus fell to his knees at her feet, wrapping his arms around her, burying his face in her waist, kissing her belly and their unborn child, whispering an apology and begging for forgiveness over and over. Her fingers were stroking his hair, and he was overwhelmed by the miracle that was his wife.
This was home. Not the little flat, not the house he'd once known with his parents, nor any of the places he'd been as an outcast of wizarding society. This clumsy, silly, radiantly beautiful woman was his home.
A feeling of peace settled over him. She still loved him, despite his self-doubt and the wrongs he'd done her. He did not know what foolish god was watching over her and had allowed that to happen, but at that moment he no longer cared. Just knowing she believed in him, even if no one else did, was enough.
She tugged on his hand then, and he got to his feet, following her into the house and up to bed, where she held him again, and he stroked her belly and sent up a silent prayer that their child would be like his mother, would have all of her and none of him, until at last sleep overtook him, with the warm comfort of his wife at his side.
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Until the End