Chapter 1 : The love that can never die
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The radio popped on as Remus Lupin rolled over in his sleep. He gave a groan before trying to flick it off by smacking it with his hand. It didn’t work.
‘And Remus Lupin was yesterday named to be the new defense against the dark arts teacher at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Lupin who lost his wife Nymp-‘ He hit the radio again, this time finding its mark and the room returning to silence.
He wished, in vain, that he might be able to drop off again but the word just kept spinning round in his head ‘Nymphadora’. His wife. The wife that he’d let be murdered during the battle, the wife he’d failed to protect, the wife he’d let down more than he could have ever imagined.
The five years since the battle had gone slowly for him. He’d spent most of his time cooped up in his flat with Teddy trying to escape the horror that was reality, but once Teddy started nursery then there he was, just left alone in his flat, thinking about the wife only in his life for a short time. The wife who’d never get to see her son grow up.
Tapping on his bedroom window sparked Remus’s motivation to get up. He slowly paced to the window where he saw an owl, the same one he saw every day holding a paper between its beak. Letting the bird in it dropped the paper onto his bed, waiting expectantly for payment. Lupin bustled about in his bedroom trying to find the wallet.
Picking the wallet up from his bedside cabinet, Lupin caught sight of the paper which had spontaneously unfurled itself. Dropping the money into the bird’s pouch then shutting the window he couldn’t take his eyes off the headline, but more importantly the picture. The headline had been the same for weeks, the speculation over who was going to be appointed was worse than the propaganda for the new ministry set up. Lupin felt hounded by the press
The words ‘werewolf’ and ‘hero’ screamed out from the page towards him but the picture he looked at so intently it sparked the memories off in his head. The day his son had been born, standing outside their home with his wife holding Teddy, caused so much internal grief within Remus that he had to swipe the paper up before reading it. He regained his composure not letting his thoughts dwell too much on why today was so special, why today everything was going to be so much worse.
Placing it promptly in the waste paper bin situated near the door, Lupin traipsed out of his room and into the one opposite. The room seemed to be brighter than Lupin’s, more expressive, larger too, even with all the toys scattered over the floor.
Crouching down near his son’s tiny bed, Lupin started to wake him up, shaking him gently as though he didn’t want to startle him. Lupin gave a smile as the small boy woke up and placed his arms around his father’s neck, making him feel that rush of love he needed to get through the day.
By the time the hug had finished, Teddy’s hair had turned bubble-gum pink, which set more memories off in Lupin’s head. As much as he told Teddy not to do it, he still did, making Lupin’s thoughts always refer back to the times when his wife had looked identical; the first time they met, the night he proposed, the night that she- Remus never let himself think about that day, not anymore, which is what made today so difficult.
‘Come on scamp’ he whispered to the boy. Teddy raced Remus down towards the kitchen, overtaking him before they’d even reached the hall. The jumping around helped Remus forget that for his son, this was just like any normal weekend.
Teddy was already sitting at the breakfast bar as Remus came through the door. He sat [there] patiently, watching his dad as he took some cereal out of one of the cupboards then poured it into a bowl before adding the milk. As soon as it was in front of him he snaffled it down, making him look like he hadn’t been fed for a week. Remus settled on just some toast instead before sitting down next to Teddy thinking about today.
In only a few hours, the grief that Remus felt every day of his life, the guilt that he felt because he’d survived instead of her would intensify and he knew that as he sat there listening to the soft crunch of his son munching his way through the breakfast. Survivor’s guilt, that’s what they called it, what Harry called it and what all the healers called it but no matter what they did it would never go away. The fact that he’d failed her never went away.
In a few hours, they’d be at Andromeda’s, having the family gathering that took place every year, trying to make everything seem more light hearted. Remus hated going there, preferring every other year to just send Teddy on his own but this year was an exception, Harry had begged with him, pleaded with him to go even just like he had done about Remus having to take the job at Hogwarts. He’d won both battles, and in some ways Remus resented him for that, he felt like he was being pushed into things he’d rather forget but in other’s he knew he had to move on, for Teddy.
The noises of the fire engine in the background streaming through the crack in one of the kitchen windows interrupted his thoughts. Everything just going on as normal for everyone around him, him not being able to be alone to grieve his way like he had done every other year, every other day.
Teddy jumped down off of the breakfast stool before racing to the window to watch the muggle contraptions go past. His hair turned bright red mirroring the pain covering the fire trucks. Lupin smiled as he too walked over to the window.
‘Daddy , daddy look!’ was Teddy’s excited response, his eyes following every single truck with speed. Living in muggle London this was a daily occurrence but the normality with in Teddy’s behavior helped ease Lupin’s apprehensive state about how today was going to turn out. He repeated a mantra in his head. Today will be fine was all that could be seen if you looked into his mind, all other memories or feelings brushed to one side, instead with him just focusing on what was really important today, getting through it.
When the commotion outside the window had passed, Teddy continued to run around the living room singing the ‘nee naw’ theme tune of the trucks as Remus snuck off to the bedroom. Entering it, he resisted the urge to retrieve the paper out of the bin, just to look at the stories but he knew it would affect him more than his son could see. Today Remus needed to be the brave Gryffindor and role model for everyone.
Getting changed, Lupin’s thoughts about his wife kept returning within his head, making the mantra brushed right back instead. Deciding that he couldn’t avoid what today was about anymore he placed a hand underneath his bed, grappling around until he found what he was looking for. A shoe box. One which hadn’t been opened for the past three hundred and sixty five days.
Pulling the frayed bow from the box, he carefully opened the lip, making sure none of the corners could rip. The box smelled familiar, not of dust and damp but one of the perfume that used to grace Lupin’s presence every day. The scent of moon flowers and roses all mixed into one. Remus took a deep breath, letting the scent engulf him, but instead of giving him the usual feeling of comfort he was instead greeted by the feeling of it all being bitter sweet.
He placed the box lid on the edge of his bed as he started to rifle through the box, trying to be as gentle as he could. All the pictures seemed to scream out to him but there was one in particular that he was looking for which he knew would be right at the bottom. He stopped abruptly as he found the picture he was looking for, the picture of their wedding day.
She looked radiant, waving out at Lupin who had let the tears flow and drip onto it. She laughed before jumping out the way as a tear splashed on top of her face. Her bubble-gum pink hair was billowing in the wind, as she held hands with the old Lupin. The old Lupin he mused over to himself, that was true enough. Whilst shy he used to go out to socialize but now he’d become the shell of the man he was. She was the person who’d been more outgoing and had balanced him out, he needed her.
Lupin felt a weight next to him on the bed and watched closely as his young son, now with his hair aqua blue took one of the pictures out of the box. That one was taken before she’d even met Lupin, before she was even an auror, back when she was safe, she looked so young, so vulnerable it broke Lupin’s heart.
‘Daddy, was mommy beautiful?’ came a small voice. Lupin gave a teary chuckle before pulling Teddy onto his lap.
‘Your mommy was the most beautiful person I’d ever seen’ was his reply. It was the same reply every time because nothing had changed. Nothing about his feelings for his wife had changed one single bit. He just wished she was there too to share the little moments like this.
‘Did you love her more than anything in the world?’ Teddy asked again, this time looking at the more recent photographs of his mother, ones that contained Remus.
‘I did’ the solemnness now overtaking everything. The tension in the room was heavy, but again the small boy opened his mouth, still curious about the relationship between his mother and his father. He’d never known his mother and wanted to know every little thing about her but Remus hardly talked of her.
‘But don’t you love me more than anything in the whole wide world daddy?’ This time his son looked up at him with his wide eyes almost on the verge of tears. The insecurities having been built up over time, after being told that he didn’t have a mommy like everyone else because she’d died.
‘Of course’ Teddy seemed satisfied with the answer before rushing off. Sighing Lupin placed all the photographs back in the box before tying the ribbon back around it again, ready to be opened at the same time next year.
Lupin just sat there in a moment of thought about how much he missed her and how much he had needed her over the past five years, how much she’d missed out on to do with their son but looking round at the pictures in the room of Teddy he had to smile. His wife had given him the one thing that he’d always wanted, she’d not left completely, she’d left a small part of him to help him get through.
Standing up and looking outside the window towards the sky, Remus had a moment. His mouth began to open almost like he was talking to his wife next to him, letting the four words have so much meaning in them.
‘Happy thirtieth birthday Tonks’
With that, he shut his blinds again before rushing off after Teddy to resume the normality of the day, finally knowing that he could face today with his son, because although he was moving on, Tonks would always be there with him, within their son.