“Hello, sweetheart. Hello, Nymphadora.”
The sun shone through the windows in the maternity ward at St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Andromeda Tonks lay, face wet with sweat, tears, and who-knows-what, holding her brand-new beautiful baby girl. Ted, by her side, was beaming. The world was quiet, still, brilliant. They were now a family. Complete.
“You’re special. A metamorphmagus.”
Ted Tonks said, ruffling his daughters annoyed orange fringe affectionately. She was brilliant, despite the teasing, despite the lack of control, despite the ups and downs. Brilliant, colorful, and unique. She didn’t need the ever changing hair to be one-of-a-kind, even at age 5.
“You’ll never catch me!”
Nymphadora shrieked as she turned and ran, as fast as she could, away from her favorite cousin. She laughed as he ran after her, threatening to tickle her senseless if he caught up with her and making good on his promise. He tickled her until she could barely breathe before kissing her forehead and hugging her. You’re my number one girl, he’d said. She felt radiant.
“Mummy, where is Sirius?”
Nymphadora Tonks asked, knowing, though nobody had said so, that something was wrong. She may have been 8, but she knew what whispers and hit-wizards and words like “betrayed” and “Azkaban” meant. And though she wanted to think otherwise, though she needed to think otherwise, she could tell that something had changed and her favorite cousin wouldn’t be back for a long time.
“Don’t call me Nymphadora.”
Her face shone with anger, hair flashed red. She’d told them, the boys, to call her Tonks, but they’d just laughed. The injustice of it all lit a fire within her 11-year old chest. She’d get them to call her Tonks if it was the last thing she did! School was going to be different. She’d have a new name, a new face. She’d be happy again. She wouldn’t think of Sirius, who’d left her, or her mum, who wouldn’t tell her why. She’d be Tonks, not Nymphadora.
“I’m not like them.”
Nymphadora Tonks spat the words at the jeering faces of her classmates. They’d found out about Sirius, Bellatrix, the others. Mum had always said Sirius was innocent, and she wanted to believe so, but he’d left her either way. And now, in front of everyone, she was being called a treacherous Black, being asked if she was a Death Eater. And she hated it.
“Just a clumsy Hufflepuff.”
She’d said, baffled, when he’d asked her out. What would Charlie Weasley, prefect, want with a clumsy Hufflepuff like herself? To take her to Hogsmeade, apparently. She’d accepted, grateful, slightly wary...boys often asked her out because she was a metamorphmagus, but Charlie was different. He’d gotten to know her, who she was, aside from the shape shifting, and he was the first one to do so.
“I’ll be an auror.”
She’d told her head of house, Pomona Sprout, at career counseling. The woman had raised her eyebrows in question, but Tonks didn’t care. She wasn’t like her family; she was going to be different, catch dark wizards. She’d be an auror if she had to work for years to do so. She knew she could do it; she just had to prove it to everyone else.
I am good enough.
She told herself for the hundredth time that day. She knew it was true. She knew she could pass, become qualified...Mad-Eye said so, at least, and he knew his stuff. So she waited, anxiously, as Scrimgeour, head of the department, walked out of his office and turned to her. Then he smiled, shook her hand, and handed her a badge. She’d done it. She’d really done it. She was an Auror. Qualified.
“Order of the what?”
She’d asked Moody, baffled, thoughts running through her head. The Order of the Phoenix? The one dedicated to fighting you-know-who? It was real? And back? It hadn’t taken her long to decide to join. She’d known, all along, that she’d have to fight one day, that there was a growing evil somewhere; it was why she’d become an Auror. She’d known that she’d have to prove herself, that one day she’d have to do what was right. And one day had just become today.
“Wotcher, Sirius. Remember me?”
Nymphadora Tonks greeted her cousin with a mischievous smile. Mum had been right, he was innocent all along, and when she’d heard, she’d been so happy she thought she’d burst. And now he was back, and she had a cousin again, and she was far less ashamed of her family, yet a little chagrined. How could she have doubted him?
“How’s my favorite girl?”
Had been her cousins’ response. He’d embraced her just as he had so many years ago, forgiven her for her doubt of him without her having to ask him to do so. And now they were a family again, whole again, and they started just where they’d left off: buddies, confidants, friends. They’d caught up and it almost felt as if he’d never had to leave.
“Remus Lupin? The werewolf?”
She asked, eyeing the man’s outstretched hand with curiosity, not apprehension. She’d read the Daily Prophet when he’d been exposed while teaching Hogwarts, and recognized the name. He looked surprised as she shook his hand anyway, before he smiled carefully at her and nodded. A werewolf, she thought, surprised. She’d have never guessed, and yet...she saw a man standing before her, not a monster.
“Hello, Nymphadora. Everything okay?”
Remus Lupin asked in his soft, hoarse voice. She blushed, straightening that damned umbrella stand, feeling foolish. She even forgot to tell him to call her Tonks. Great, he thinks you’re stupid now, she grimaced to herself, but to her surprise his eyes were full of concern and not amusement or annoyance. It was, she realized, the same caring look he always gave her. And she loved it.
“Lacking necessary qualities, eh?”
Remus had asked her later that night after the prefect’s party was over. She’d turned, grinning, blushing slightly at his playful tone. When her eyes met his, she felt her waist-length tomato red hair change unconsciously to short, spiky, bubblegum pink, and she suddenly realized that was what always happened in his presence.
“Umbridge is a cow.”
She’d muttered when she’d finished reading that morning’s Daily Prophet. She’d spent the night at Grimmauld, at Remus’ request. He’d asked her to stay and have a drink with Sirius, who’d become rather monosyllabic and unfriendly since the kids had gone back to school. She’d just finished reading the article about the Ministry’s new anti-werewolf legislation and she was not pleased. Not pleased at all.
“What was that, Tonks?”
He’d asked, looking up from the book he’d been reading. She flushed slightly before repeating her insult of Umbridge, a bit louder this time, tossing the paper across the table for him to see. Remus looked at the article then back at her face, and for a moment he abandoned his usual stoicism. Beneath his mask of indifference she saw, for the briefest of moments, a mixture of confusion and...amusement?
“Surely you don’t disagree?”
She’d asked when he’d said nothing but continued to stare at her. No, he’d said, he didn’t disagree, yet he was surprised she thought so. Wouldn’t it be safer, he’d asked, to follow through with Umbridge’s plans? To keep monsters such as himself away from humans? And though his tone was playful and light, she could hear the slight bitterness, slight bite in his voice. But she didn’t play along with it, and surprised him when she reached across the table to take his hand in hers.
“I’m not human either.”
She’d reminded him, giving his warm hand a little squeeze, trying to feign nonchalance when really touching him sent a thrill through her. He’d just shaken his head a bit, telling her she was gifted while he was cursed, but she’d not looked away, and instead kept her penetrating gaze on his face until he’d looked up again. Not everyone judges you for it, you know. Some of us see a man, not a monster, she’d said. And with that she’d stood up, excused herself, and left for work, leaving him baffled at the kitchen counter.
“Like it was nothing!”
He’d told Sirius later. She talked of my furry little problem as if it was nothing. He could hardly have kept the smile from his voice--or face, for that matter. And Sirius had just chuckled, saying that not all Blacks were bad, that some of them were quite good. But then he’d looked back at his friend, who seemed younger than he had in years, and it clicked.
“You like her, Moony.”
He’d said, expression that of just having figured something out. Remus looked up, saw his friend’s telltale expression, and cringed inwardly. On the outside, however, he put his face back up, the one of stoicism, indifference. He didn’t like her, he’d said, he just admired her for not judging him, that’s all. He was too old for her, too poor, and anyway, she’d never see him like that. Yet Sirius had just grinned at his friend, winked, and said, you just keep telling yourself that.
“He’s crazy about you!”
Sirius said for the hundredth time. Tonks eyed him warily, not wanting to let herself hope it was true. Sirius had told her Remus fancied her, just as she fancied him, and yet she couldn’t pluck up the courage to do anything about it and he was far too gentlemanly. You’re a Hufflepuff for a reason, she had thought to herself. But this is getting ridiculous, she’d decided, resolving to take things into her own hands if that was what it took.
Tonks muttered, looking at her toes, feeling her face heating up. He’d asked her why she’d waited up for him after the full moon, and before she knew it she was standing closer to him than she remembered ever being and telling him things she’d never imagined saying. She’d been concerned, and shown it, apparently, and now she felt very foolish. But when she chanced a look up he was beaming, though he looked shocked, and she felt the tension in her stomach ease just a bit.
“Me? You like me?”
They seemed to both be thinking it, but he’d said it first. He couldn’t imagine why she liked him, why she wanted to be with him. Him, of all people. How could she, Nymphadora Tonks, the girl who had everything...how could she possibly want to be with him, Remus Lupin, the man who’d lost it all? How could he possibly hope for that?
“It seems so, yes.”
She’d said, marveling in just how true the words were. It was true, of course it was...she’d only known him for a little over half a year, and yet it seemed she even more than liked him. Something’d changed since she met him, something big...and now that he was a part of her life, a part of her, she couldn’t remember what things had been like before he was there.
“How could I not?”
That had been his response when she’d asked him if he liked her back, apprehension growing in her stomach as he hadn’t done anything but look at her incredulously since she’d told him how she felt. But when she asked the question his lips twitched towards a smile while his eyes remained intent and sincere. She’d looked away again, uncertain, suddenly uncharacteristically shy, but he’d taken her chin in his fingers and forced her to meet his eyes. When she did, he’d looked at her for a moment with a look that communicated much more than words ever could. Then he’d leaned in, very slowly, and kissed her softly on the lips, causing her heart to leap.
She’s not pulling away.
He’d marveled inwardly in the tiny part of his brain that retained cognitive function while the rest was lost in her kiss. She’s actually serious about this. He pulled away anyway, after just a brief kiss, yet her face told him all he needed to know. Her hair had gone short, spiky, and bubblegum pink, her eyes were a dark, twinkling violet, and she was beaming at him. And he suddenly felt his heart flutter in a way it hadn’t in ages, and, abandoning his usual logic, he leaned in and kissed her again even as she leaned up to kiss him.
Forever thinking of you.
The note had said. He’d been sent off on a mission for a few days, leaving her to remember his soft, sweet kisses and bright, happy eyes the night before, when she’d finally told him how she felt. She folded the parchment and slipped it into her back pocket, resolving never to lose it, and walked into the kitchen for the Order meeting that night with her hair a brighter pink than it’d been in years.
“I love him, Sirius!”
Tonks had surprised even herself when those words tumbled from her mouth. Sirius looked up at her, eyes both shocked and amused. He’d clearly not expected this answer when he’d asked her how things were with Remus. She felt herself blush...they were barely even dating, if she could call it that, and yet...she loved him already. She felt as if she always had.
“You make me whole.”
He’d whispered against her lips, holding her close, beaming down at her with the kind of smile she knew he reserved just for her. She’d sighed, nuzzling her face into his chest, feeling him pressing a kiss into her hair, knowing it was a bright pink and feeling her own chest swell with excitement and happiness. If she’d known this was all it took to make her feel happy and complete, she’d have found him years ago.
“You’re dating a what?!”
Her mother had shrieked when she’d told her. A werewolf, she’d answered petulantly, glad Remus wasn’t around for this. She was bitterly disappointed by her mother’s reaction, though her dad had been good about it. You’d never guess it of him, she’d told her mum. He’s incredible. And though she was annoyed, she accepted her mum’s apology later on, because her mum was right...you really do love him.
“I want you instead.”
She’d said tartly when he’d finished his rant. They’d been dating for a few weeks and he’d started to have doubts. He’d told her she could have it all; money, acceptance into society, a normal life...he’d told her he was keeping her from those things, and that someone else could give her a life free from his curse. And in response she’d told him the truth: she didn’t want that; she wanted him instead. And though it wouldn’t be in a few months, in that moment it was enough.
“I love you, Remus.”
She’d said it quietly, offering him a shy smile, almost unable to meet his eyes. It seemed crazy that it had taken her this long to say it to his face, but she’d been afraid of his reaction even though he’d let go of his doubts a few weeks before. Yet he’d held her tighter, smiled wider, and whispered the words in return, making her smile so much it ached. She couldn’t help but think that things were perfect that day; the spring air tugging at her bubble-gum pink hair as they walked through the park, hand-in-hand, unaware of the hardship awaiting them.
“He’s not coming back.”
Remus had said, voice cracking, eyes distant and cold. He was holding her hand, sitting by her bed in St. Mungo’s, but he felt miles away, worlds away. She felt the grief grab her, swallow her, consume her, drag her into pain and darkness and fear. And he was right there, but even he couldn’t make this better. Sirius was dead. Gone.
“It’s all my fault.”
She choked on the words as they came out, sobs wracking her body. She’d been released from St. Mungo’s days before, yet had only just brought herself to confess the thoughts she’d been consumed by to Remus. She’d been dueling Bellatrix, she could’ve saved him, could’ve finished it...but in the end she was too weak. She was always too weak.
“It’s not your fault.”
His voice was stern, chastising almost, yet she knew he didn’t mean it to be. He’d said it to her so many times she wasn’t sure what to do anymore. She tried to listen to him, tried to make things okay again...but she couldn’t, no matter how hard she tried, fight this depression, this emptiness. She felt guilty, weak, undeserving of him. Undeserving of life.
“Are you guys okay?”
Bill had asked, eyes full of genuine concern. She’d agreed to meet him for a drink, just her, without Remus. Just him, without Fleur. It was late summer, weeks since Sirius’ death, yet she was still drab and depressed. Were she and Remus okay? She shook her head slowly, admitting it to Bill, to herself, feeling the tears coming. They weren’t okay, and she knew it...but she didn’t want to admit it.
“You’ve been so distant.”
She’d whispered to Remus one evening after dinner in her flat. It was true. Since Sirius’ death, she’d felt grief wedging itself between them, breaking them apart, ruining all they had. She felt herself drawing back, felt him closing off to her, and yet she couldn’t bring herself to fight for him, not while she felt so hurt, so sad, so weak.
“I miss him too.”
She’d told him, hoping they could use each other to get through it, hoping they could talk about it. But he’d looked surprised, as if that wasn’t at all what he was thinking of. And when he’d turned to her, eyes tired, cold, and resigned, she saw a reluctance she hadn’t seen since the very beginning when he’d claimed he was too old for her, too poor, too dangerous.
“I’m bad for you.”
He’d said the words quietly, his eyes on the floor, yet she wasn’t surprised to hear them. Those were the words he’d used right after they’d started dating, when he’d tried to tell her he was no good for her, that she should date someone else. But he’d let go of his fears, let himself love her...was he really taking it back now?
“I...I shouldn’t have.”
He had said when she pointed out to him that he’d let go of his fears before. The words hurt a lot more than she’d expected them to and she felt her purple hair turn brown, mousy, and limp as she let them wash over her. He regretted this. Regretted her. And suddenly it made sense. He’d always said he’d hurt her...but she never imagined that he’d hurt her like this.
“Move on. Forget me.”
This was, it felt like, the hundredth time he’d told her to do so. He’d become unshakably convinced that he was bad for her, a monster...his insecurities had resurfaced with a vengeance, and Tonks, depressed as she was, couldn’t seem to convince him that he was good for her. And it hurt, awfully so, that he thought she could get over him, because she knew she couldn’t.
“Please. Stay with me.”
She begged, brown, straggly hair limp and greasy, eyes brimming with tears. He was leaving, he’d said, to fulfill a long term mission. He wasn’t sure he’d be coming back. He was sure, however, that he was no good for her, that he shouldn’t have let himself be with her. She was young, he’d said, full of life. She should move on, he’d said. But she couldn’t move on; she wouldn’t.
“I have to go.”
Remus said, eyes anguished, tormented. He’d asked her to stay safe, for him, before saying it again, louder, pushing her away forcibly, leaving her flat. I have to go. She heard the crack of disapparation, and she soon found herself on the floor, not sure when or how she’d gotten there. She curled into a ball, letting the pain wash over her, consume her. He’s gone, she told herself. Gone like Sirius.
“Spying on feral wolves?”
Molly had asked, eyebrows raised. It was the end of summer and Remus had left weeks before. Nobody had heard from him, though he’d said they wouldn’t, and nobody included her. She was worried sick, depressed, alone...she missed him, loved him, and had lost him. And that was the true tragedy; not the war, not her own sadness. She’d lost him, and she knew she wouldn’t smile again.
You’re good for me.
She’d written, knowing he’d never read it. She’d started writing him letters and keeping them in a box. A box of letters he’d never read. Yet it helped her keep her sanity, if only slightly. He was gone, she knew, and wouldn’t be in contact until Christmas, if they were lucky. And then what? He’d still insist they couldn’t be together, she was sure. And suddenly she wanted, more than ever, to be anywhere but where she was: in Hogsmeade, alone.
I’m lost without you.
Remus’d thought for the millionth time, her face in his mind’s eye. I’m lost without you, Dora. He thought it every night, every morning; every moment, really. He was forever thinking of her, as he’d written so long ago. He’d known it’d be hard, separating himself from her. He’d known it’d hurt like hell, known it’d almost kill him. He’d also known it was the right thing to do. But what he’d never known was that doing the right thing could feel so wrong.
I’m constantly missing you.
That was all the parchment said. Remus looked down at it, hands shaking slightly. Molly’d had the courtesy to tell him, at Christmas, that Nymphadora was alone that night, her voice full of disapproval. Harry’d told him about her patronus change, though he didn’t seem to know the significance, and now Bill’d given him this note from her. He wanted to go see her, more than ever, but he knew if he did he’d never be able to let her go. This is for the best, he told himself, trying, as he so often did, to believe his own words.
“He’ll come around, dear.”
Molly told Tonks for the hundredth time. It was March 10, his birthday, and Tonks had still not heard from him. Her thoughts were on him, more than usual, and she was once again reminded that it had been months, almost 8, since she’d last spoken to him. She knew she could’ve gone to the Burrow for Christmas, she’d known he’d be there, and yet...she had hoped, foolishly, that he’d come to see her. And he hadn’t. And now it had been longer than she could comprehend since she’d seen his face, heard his voice...felt alive.
“Remus, Nymphadora, and Bill?”
Dumbledore asked, looking around the room expectantly. Tonks nodded stiffly, gaze fixed resolutely upon the table in front of her. It was the first Order meeting she’d been to in weeks, and Remus had been there. When did he get back? She’d wondered desperately. Why didn’t anyone tell me? It hurt, more than she’d thought it would, but she forced herself to turn the hurt into anger. It didn’t matter. They had a duty, that night, to protect the castle. And she’d do it, and ignore him, because he clearly didn’t care enough to let her know he was safe.
“I don’t care either!”
She felt the words leave her lips without telling herself to say them. She was still dazed, Bill’s mangled face in her mind’s eye, Dumbledore’s death still a fresh wound. She’d told herself to give up, get over him, let him go...and yet here she was, declaring her love for him in the hospital wing, in front of everyone. And despite the embarrassment, the fact that Bill was injured, the fact that Dumbledore was dead...more than anything it hurt that he’d turned her down.
“We need to talk.”
He said the words calmly, stoically, quietly. Harry had left with McGonagall and the hospital wing had fallen into a stunned silence. She nodded dumbly, following him out of the wing and onto the grounds. He didn’t say a word until they were by the lake, the cold night air chilling them both to the bone.
“I’ve hurt you, Dora.”
His voice was soft, quiet...tender, even. She’d looked at him sharply, surprised. She expected stern words. She expected anger, bitterness, or annoyance. Not this. Not Dora. Not sympathy, not pain, not regret. He stood there looking at her, and in his eyes she didn’t see the stoicism or coldness she’d come to expect...she saw love, pain, and sorrow, and she knew he could see the same in her eyes.
“I love you anyway.”
She’d said, surprised at how easily the words left her lips. And it was true. Despite all he’d put her through...despite all the pain, sadness, anger, fear, the almost year without contact, the long hours wishing he’d come back...despite everything she loved him just as much as she had the first time they’d met, the first time they’d kissed, the first time she’d told him so.
“I’ve been a fool.”
Remus admitted, feeling completely overwhelmed that, despite everything he’d done, she still loved him. And it was then that he couldn’t keep it in any longer. It was then that, after all those months of resolve and stoicism and pent-up love...it was then that the dam broke, and he let himself go, and he found himself kissing her, not caring that it was not the time or that he was a werewolf or that she was so young. He kissed her, caring about nothing but his love for her and the love she held for him in return.
“For real this time?”
She’d whispered softly, agonizingly softly, after pulling away from him, knees weak. Her voice trembled, as did her lips. Her eyes were timid, as if she wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer. And he pulled away from the kiss they’d just been sharing to stare deeply into her eyes, to hold her face in his hand, to reassure her.
“I love you, Nymphadora.”
He had responded hoarsely, almost timidly. He’d told her everything then...that he’d never stopped loving her, not for a moment; that it was thoughts of her that got him through it all; that her smile, her laugh, her eyes guided him through the worst transformations. And she’d wrapped her arms around him, strong for such a slight figure, and told him she’d never let him go.
“Will you marry me?”
He had finally asked, voice steadier than he felt. It was soon, premature...they’d only been back together for a few weeks, after all, and yet...he saw no point in waiting. He’d known this was right since they’d attended Dumbledore’s funeral hand-in-hand. He wanted to spend every moment of his life with this wonderful woman, and he didn’t care who knew it. And her eyes filled with tears, but she beamed, nodding, throwing herself into his waiting arms.
“I now pronounce you...” Werewolf and wife, he thought to himself, without the usual tone of bitterness. How could he be bitter today? How could he bring himself to logic, to regret, to fear, when she stood there, beautiful as the day they first met, bright pink hair and dark twinkling eyes and heart shaped face looking at him with pure adoration?
Mrs. Lupin. Nymphadora Lupin.
She thought to herself, unable to keep from beaming. They were married, she and Remus, and she thought she’d never feel so happy again. And as he leaned forward to kiss her, she met him with girlish enthusiasm, excitement, and wonder. She was married, she was, and not to just anybody...to him, to the love of her life. And the war suddenly felt trivial, because standing there, with her husband, she felt invincible.
“We’re gonna be parents.”
Tonks had said, looking absolutely radiant. Her smile faltered, however, when she saw his face. Remus Lupin stood, brick-still, words crashing over him, head pounding, heart stopping. He dropped the bag of groceries he was holding, looking at her in horror. What had he done? What had he done to her, after promising to keep her safe, to care for her? What had he done?
“It’ll be like me.”
He’d said, hating himself more and more as he thought of what he’d done. He’d ruined her life, single-handedly, and not just that, but an innocent child’s life, too. Nobody deserved his curse, he knew, nobody, especially not a child. And the sweet freedom he’d allowed himself the past weeks vanished, a rush of self-disgust and logical thought replacing it. What if it’s like me? He’d wondered, horrified. But her response had only made him feel worse. I’ll love him or her just like I love you, she’d said, fiercely, eyes on fire. And he could only sink to the ground. What have I done?
“Will you be back?”
He’d said he was going to find Harry, just to talk, to see if the Order could help with his mission. And yet, as she looked up at him, she saw what she’d feared all along in his eyes. Coldness. It was the same coldness that had overcome him after Sirius’ death, after he left the first time, and she couldn’t help but feel that it was the same this time, that he wouldn’t be coming back.
“I’ve let myself go.”
He’d said, unable to meet her eyes. He was wrong, he’d said, to let himself marry her. He’d committed her to a life of prejudice, poverty, danger. And she’d just stood there, far too stunned to speak. She was too embarrassed she hadn’t seen it coming, too anguished that he was going to break both of their hearts all over again, too raw to say a word. And he’d turned, with her voice still caught in her throat, and disappeared for the second time.
“She’ll be better off.”
Remus said, for what felt like the hundredth time. He’d already been rejected by Harry, who’d said things he knew Dora would have had she not been so shocked at his leaving. It was Harry who’d completely undone his own arguments, Harry who’d left Remus knowing he shouldn’t have left her. And yet, there he stood, telling Bill he was doing the right thing, even though both his head and his heart told him he was very, very wrong.
“I’m so sorry, Dora.”
It had taken nothing more than one of Molly’s scathing looks to make Remus go back to her. He’d been gone a little over a week, that’s all, and had found her at their cottage, not her parents, as she’d promised. And yet it didn’t matter where they were, the three of them. All that mattered was that he’d realized that they needed him, and, more importantly, that he needed them.
“Please...just forgive yourself.”
She’d responded when he asked, practically begged, for her forgiveness. Just forgive yourself, she’d said, she’d already forgiven him. And as he looked at her, the weight of her words hitting him, he wanted to cry, laugh, shout, scream, anything. She loved him, as always, and he loved her, more than he thought was possible. More than he’d ever imagined, more than he’d ever loved anything before, he loved her. And he nodded, promised he would forgive himself, if that’s what she wanted, because he’d do anything for her.
“We have to win.”
She’d responded, tone unwavering. He’d finally said what they’d all been thinking since Dumbledore’s death, the fall of the Ministry, the reign of the Death Eaters, everything. He’d asked that fateful question: What if we don’t win? But her resolve--her firm jaw and determined eyes--had been enough. They’d win, they had to, not just for them, but for their son or daughter, for their family, for the life they knew they deserved.
“Oh, Merlin! It’s happening!”
She’d screeched, suddenly, abruptly, from the bathroom. She’d been gone for just a few moments after wincing during their morning toast, but he’d not suspected this. And he felt his heart stop as the words reached him at the table. She needed to say no more, for he knew, then, that they were about to have their son or daughter, and he felt more scared than he had in years as he conjured his patronus, with thoughts of her, and summoned Molly Weasley.
“Wotcher, Teddy Remus Lupin.”
Nymphadora crooned, seeing nothing before her but the tiny, perfect, beautiful face of the baby boy in her arms. And she hadn’t said a word to Remus about the name, but when he’d brought the baby to her, told her it was a boy, he’d said it easily. Let’s call him Teddy. And she’d added the Remus, and now they were a family. Remus, Teddy, and her. And suddenly, more than ever before, she knew what it was like to be complete, what it was like to love unconditionally, what it was like to have something worth dying for.
“He looks like you.”
She’d told him, despite him saying the same to her only moments before. But it was true. Teddy had Remus’ silver-blue, inquisitive eyes, Remus’ jaw. He was as beautiful as his father. Yet he also, she had to admit, had her heart-shaped face, her button-nose, her metamorphosing abilities. He was beautiful like his mother. And they could argue all day long about who their perfect son looked like, but in the end, he didn’t look like him or her. He wasn’t beautiful like him or her. He looked like them. He was beautiful, just like them.
“We should ask Harry.”
She’d said the words without hesitation. Harry as Teddy’s godfather...there was no decision to make, really. It had to be Harry, it made sense, it was perfect...Tonks knew that, and was aware that it was what Remus wanted. That’s why she’d suggested asking him, of all people, though he was not even 18. He’d seen enough, been through enough, done enough...he’d take care of Teddy if he needed to, she was sure of it.
“Happier than ever before.”
She’d responded when he’d asked how she was. He’d chuckled, no doubt noticing her disheveled expression, ruffled hair, and tired eyes. But he’d been unable to miss her radiance, her beaming smile, her luminescent pink hair. She was the happiest she’d ever been there, in his arms, their infant son sleeping in his cot in the other room. Happier than she’d ever thought she could be. Happy enough that the pain they’d been through before finally getting here, the anguish, the sorrow, the hurt...she was happy enough now to know that that tiny shadow, compared to this bliss, was well worth it.
“He’s just so fascinating!”
She’d said ruefully when Remus’d told her she should let Teddy sleep. She’d been holding him again, speaking nonsense into his ear, watching him with fascination. He was so perfect, so pristine, so immaculate...and it was hard to believe that he was hers, all hers, her beautiful baby. Standing there with her husband and son Nymphadora Lupin knew what it was like to love without restrain, without thought, without fear.
It’s about to start.
Those were the last words of the call to arms they’d just received from the castle. It was happening. The battle, the final battle, the culmination of everything was about to begin. And as they turned, Teddy in her arms, to look at each other, they both knew it was the end, no matter who won. All that they’d done, all they’d fought for, all they’d lost over the past few years would be decided in this night. It was all down to this moment.
“Stay with him, Dora.”
He’d begged as he threw on his cloak and grabbed his wand. He hadn’t said anything else, but he didn’t need to. His eyes had said it all...he was determined, he had to fight, but he wanted her to stay with their son, to keep Teddy safe. And she’d just nodded, afraid that she’d lose it if she tried to speak. She breathed in his scent as he kissed her forehead before he handed her a letter for Teddy that he’d written in anticipation of this day. Then he’d taken his son in his arms, whispered I love you, and kissed him for the last time.
“I have to know.”
She’d said, pacing the room for the millionth time that night. Andromeda Tonks sat, Teddy in her arms, studying her daughter with a penetrating gaze she’d so often used when Tonks was younger. Remus had left hours ago to fight, and now her daughter, her darling daughter, was asking her, with her eyes, to go and fight as well.
“You decided long ago.”
Andromeda had astutely observed. She could see that her daughter had made up her mind when she’d first decided to join the Order...she loved her son, Andromeda knew, and yet she had to fight. It was never Nymphadora’s style to be in the background, never her style to stay safe when those she loved were in danger. She looked into her daughter’s eyes and saw the same fierce resolve as when she’d decided to be an Auror, the same resolve as when she’d told her mother that she was marrying a werewolf, whether she liked it or not.
Love always, your Mum.
Tonks had signed the letter, placing both it and the one Remus had written in her mother’s hands. She took her son in her arms, pressed one last, precious kiss on his forehead, then she looked into her mothers eyes, communicating everything with a glance. With a deep breath she put her sleeping son in her mother’s arms, his hair bubblegum pink, and turned on the spot and disapparated, afraid she’d lose her nerve if she lingered a moment longer.
“I’m here to fight.”
She’d said, ignoring Ginny’s protests about Teddy. She’d told the younger girl to stay in the room of requirement, to stay safe, to promise she’d help Harry look after Teddy if anything happened. She had to believe Ginny’d keep her promise, had to believe there’d be good people left for her son should the worst happen. She gave Ginny one last look and turned, running, to find her husband and fight for all that she held good and true.
“What’re you doing here?”
He’d asked, panic evident in his eyes, as he turned to her, mid duel. She stunned the Death Eater he was dueling, grabbing her husband’s hand and not letting go. She told him, between spells, that she had to fight, that she couldn’t not know if he was okay, that she couldn’t be away from him.
“I’ll always love you.”
He’d said, squeezing her hand back, after she’d told him she was sorry for coming, but that Teddy’d be safe. He hadn’t seemed upset, or worried...he’d just looked at her, a long, intense look, which told her all she needed to know. He’d kissed her, quickly, passionately, knowing how foolish it was in the moment but doing it anyway, before turning back to the fray and continuing to fight.
“What a nice surprise!”
Bellatrix Lestrange had sneered, seeing her niece fighting alongside her filthy werewolf husband. She advanced on her sister’s daughter, cackling madly, gathering a few Death Eaters with her to help take them down. They were good duelists, she was sure, but they were no match for her, Dolohov, Greyback, and two or three others she knew would join in.
“Be strong. For Teddy.”
He whispered to her as Bellatrix and half a dozen other Death Eaters approached. For Teddy, she thought to herself, jaw clenching, hand tightening around Remus’. For Teddy. And so she turned, face set, to her aunt, feeling Remus do the same beside her, knowing she’d probably not make it out, and, surprisingly, not caring...for he was there with her and they were together, at the end of all things.
The next great adventure.
She thought to herself upon finding herself surrounded by blinding, white light. She vaguely remembered Bellatrix’s cackles, her husband falling...and yet she didn’t feel much pain, or sorrow, or anguish. She knew she’d left Teddy, and that she wouldn’t see him for a long time, and yet she only felt peaceful, calm, serene...and when she turned around and saw Remus there, next to her, she smiled.
“We’ll always be together.”
He’d said, more to himself than to her, looking slightly surprised. She became suddenly aware that she had no idea where they were, why they were there, or what would happen next. But when she looked up at him and saw his smile, radiant as ever, eyes young and completely free of worry, she realized she didn’t care. She knew then that they were dead....but they were together, weren’t they, so what difference did it really make?
“Time to move on.”
He said, tone slightly regretful. Tonks realized, then, that he was right. They’d have to move on, though she had no idea where on was. They’d have to leave behind their mortal lives, leave behind those they loved, leave behind their beautiful son. Teddy. And yet it was okay, really; for they’d see him again, she was sure, and the only thing she couldn’t bare to leave behind was right there with her. So she smiled, taking Remus’ hand, and together they walked into the light.
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