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Heroes or Ghosts by The Last Marauder
Chapter 1 : Heroes or Ghosts
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 13

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Am I just
Too cynical for my own good?
Am I too scared to say
We'll get there if we should?
               -  The Coronas, Heroes or Ghosts.

Remus stood in front of the door for a long time. It was white. The handle was made of brass, like the knocker. The bottom of the door was dirtier than the top. Scratches were scattered over the foot of the frame and around the door handle. They didn’t look welcoming; in fact, they reminded him of the scratches he used to leave on the walls of the Shrieking Shack all those years ago. Upon realising this, his gaze instantly looked elsewhere. He then noticed the door-mat. It was dirty; caked in decrepit leaves and small clumps of muck. Two flower pots stood sentinel at either side of the door frame, and even the brightly coloured plants they housed were glaring at him with accusatory eyes. Remus tried not to look at them. They made him feel more uneasy. He just stood there, stuck in limbo, staring at the door with its brass handle, knocker and scratched surface. He couldn’t go back and he couldn’t go forward either. He was stuck, unable to move. He was going absolutely nowhere. 

He was surprisingly calm, but as soon as the rational part of his brain goaded him into knocking on the door, he entered a state of blind panic. Once or twice he had thrown caution to the wind and had raised his hand obediently to follow the orders of that rational voice, but then his heart had started hammering and a wave of boiling-hot fear swirled in his chest, preventing him from acting. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t knock on the door. He would just stay there staring at it instead.

He was content being stuck in this limbo-like existence. He liked being ignorant, at least then he could pretend that Dora didn’t hate him, pretend that he hadn’t destroyed any feelings she had for him. In limbo he could pretend, but as soon as he knocked on that door, he would be immersed in truth and he would then know the extent of the damage he had done. And once he had that knowledge, there would be no going back and no pretending.

Coward, barked the rational part of his mind viciously.

Remus sighed, shrinking several inches as he did so. The voice was right. He was a coward. Harry had confirmed that a week ago in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. Remus stared at the door again. Its handle and knocker were still brass, they hadn’t changed. But the key question was had he? Had he changed? Was he willing to stop letting his head rule his heart? He had come to apologise, but he had also come back for good, but that depended on whether or not Dora would take him back. He wasn’t expecting her to. He had betrayed her. He deserved to live a life without her in it.

He knew he should, no, he knew he had to knock, but at the same time he dreaded the reception he would receive once the door was opened. He would be shouted at, that he was sure of. Andromeda would most certainly curse him into oblivion and Ted would probably abandon all reason and punch every inch of Remus he could reach. But he could handle all that. He didn’t care about what physical wounds he received. He was used to physical pain. It was nothing. But it was Dora’s reaction that worried him the most. She probably wouldn’t want anything to do with him anymore and that would be the final blow, the last vicious attack on his soul. He had lost Harry a week ago; in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place the boy had washed his hands of Remus, wanting nothing more to do to with him. That hurt, that really hurt. He couldn’t describe the pain of it; there were no words that could do it justice. All he knew was that Harry’s utterance had entered his soul like a poison that lacerated everything it came into contact with. And, he also knew that as soon as he knocked on the door in front of him, he would lose Dora too, just as he had lost Harry. That would be the fatal blow; the one that dragged the poison in so deep it could never be removed. There would be no antidote, no remedy. His soul, his self, his being would be damaged so completely, so entirely and so incontrovertibly that no divine Healer would be able to mend it, no matter what fancy wand work was performed. 

You deserve it, said the rational voice again, you deserve it all.

He had been so stupid, he knew that now. He had thought that what he was doing was the right thing, the right thing for her and the child, but it wasn’t. Had he left, not to protect them, but to try and soothe his own guilty feelings about possibly passing on to his child his curse and all the fear, horror, pain, prejudice and poverty that went with it? He didn’t know the answer to that question. All he knew was that he had been reckless, so reckless. But he understood now that if that child was indeed a werewolf, it would need its father to hold its hand. It would need its father to lie to it, to tell it that everything was okay when it wasn’t. It would need its father beside it as it faced a horror and a pain that none on earth should be condemned to endure.  

Suddenly, he heard muffled footsteps coming down the hallway at the other side of the door. These sounds pulled him from his thoughts, bringing him out of memory and back into reality again. He was standing here in front of the door of Dora’s parents’ house and they were surely to open the door at any second and discover him hiding between the glaring flower-pots. Panic swelled inside Remus again at the thought of this prospect and his heart instantly stopped beating. 

Knock! NOW! yelled that voice in his head.

He knew he had to knock. This was it, this was the moment. He had to knock on the door right now because he certainly didn’t want to be found standing here on the doorstep; that prospect was definitely far worse than knocking on the door and waiting to accept whatever fate awaited him. The former choice showed cowardice, while the latter displayed courage. Harry had called him a coward and all Remus knew was that he never wanted to be called a coward again. 

He raised his hand, formed a fist and knocked. The sound shattered the chilly silence of the September evening. It was a loud, long and echoing sound, one that reverberated throughout the house, informing the three occupants that he was here, standing in the front garden, awaiting the final blow that would surely break his soul in two. His heart suddenly revived itself and began its frantic and panicked beating once again. Perhaps it knew that the attack that was coming would kill it and it wanted to beat as much as it could before it was turned to stone by Dora’s refusal to see him. Remus was sweating now and he was trembling, albeit slightly. He was in fate’s hands now and he didn’t like it.

“Declare yourself!” barked a muffled voice from behind the door. It was Ted.

Remus’s stomach contracted. He couldn’t speak. His voice had left him. His heart was pounding in his ears. His brain was flooded with fear and panic. He wanted to run, but his legs weren’t obeying his commands anymore. 

Say something NOW! screamed the rational voice inside his head.

“It’s me, Remus, I’ve come to apologise,” he said, his voice very high. He hoped he sounded apologetic. There would be no white-lies, no defensive speeches. He had come to say sorry and he wanted that known right from the off. 

The door burst open and in the frame, his outline gilded by the light streaming out from the hall into the dark front garden, was Ted Tonks. His wand was pointed straight at his unwelcome intruder. Ted towered over Remus, seeming larger than life; the heroic father saving his daughter from the pitiful ghost knocking on the front door, wanting to come in.

For a moment both men stared at each other, one face livid, the other, remorseful. Remus’s heart rate was rapidly increasing with each passing second. He was doing the right thing, he knew that, but that knowledge didn’t make Ted any less intimidating or the situation any less dangerous. He had to tread carefully or else he could end up resembling Mad-Eye Moody very quickly.

The look of utter contempt and disgust on Ted’s face was unwavering. “LUPIN!” he roared savagely. The sheer volume of his voice was admirable, even the glaring plants by the doorway seemed to avert their gaze to the ground. But Ted’s eyes did nothing of the sort; they bore into Remus, accusing, condemning and angry.

Remus did not back down. He did not even recoil. He tried to remain calm; to face the words and the curses that were about to be bellowed at him. He would accept them as truth and receive whatever brutal onslaught that was coming his way. He certainly deserved it.

Sparks flew out of Ted’s wand tip. Remus felt their heat against his face, causing some of the sweat on his brow to evaporate instantly. A hundred different spells seemed to have flooded Ted’s brain, over loading it, and for the moment he seemed unable to decide which one to use. He simply stood in the doorway, like a large figure silhouetted against the white moon, staring contemptuously down at all the evil-spirits infecting the world below him.

“I’ve come to apologise,” Remus began seriously, holding Ted’s gaze, hoping the man would believe him. “I know tha-”

However, Remus wasn’t able to finish his sentence as the sound of his voice seemed to knock Ted out of whatever indecisive space he had been thrown into at the return of the unwanted vagrant to his house. Ted had suddenly lost all sense of control. Yelling madly, he drew back his fist and punched Remus in the face. The blow came out of nowhere. Remus didn’t see it coming as his main concern was the wand that was dangerously emitting sparks inches from his face. Ted’s strike hit Remus square on the nose. Ted threw all his considerable weight behind the punch. Remus felt a burning pain spread across his face, it felt like his head had been cracked in two. His nose broke on contact and he fell backwards onto the gravel lining the garden with a loud crunch. Hot blood poured from both nostrils as his nose began beating in time with his heart. It was almost as if it was rhythmically repeating the same word over and over again: broken, broken, broken

Ted stared at Remus on the ground. He looked utterly dumb-founded, and if Remus was not mistaken, horrified. He was blinking repeatedly as if he was trying to erase the memory of what had just happened. He looked from Remus to his own fist, as though he did not believe what he had just done in his moment of madness.

Suddenly, Andromeda appeared in the doorway behind Ted. Her eyes narrowed on Remus. “YOU!” she bellowed, drawing her wand. Remus dived sideways, wanting to avoid whatever jinx Andromeda was about to send at him. She did not, however, utter any such spell. “How dare you show your filthy face here werewolf after what you’ve done!” she roared, the malice in her voice reaching alarming levels.

“I’ve – I’ve come to apologise!” Remus half-shouted, panicking now that he would not have an opportunity to explain himself.

Andromeda laughed, the sound made her appear so remarkably like Bellatrix that Remus instantly began to feel afraid. Her face was no longer kind; it looked demented and furious.

“Apologise?!” Ted said, half-laughing, half-shouting. “You think you can just show up here, say sorry and everything will be okay? You’ve nearly destroyed my daughter, Lupin, and I won’t just stand aside and let you hurt her further!”

Remus’s heart thundered, making the blood pour from his nose in dangerous quantities. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what to say. He was sorry. He had thought that by leaving he was protecting Dora; he had thought that she would be better off without him. But he knew different now, he knew he was wrong. He just needed a chance to explain, to apologise, and once he had done that, they could curse him all they wanted, he wouldn’t stop them.

GO!” Ted yelled, his wand pointed straight at Remus’s chest.

Remus stood up, not caring to wipe the blood from his face, and stared at Ted and Andromeda. Both of their kind faces were distorted, wearing looks of contempt and disgust that really didn’t suit them. 

“No,” Remus said firmly, “I’ll leave after I’ve apologised to Dora.”

A flash of purple light flew from Andromeda’s wand and flew past Remus’s face.  He felt the heat of it burn him slightly as it soared over his shoulder. He did not know if Andromeda had missed on purpose or if she had in actuality been aiming for his head. 

“Go,” Andromeda said quietly, her voice sounded even more menacing at such a low volume. She was advancing towards Remus with her wand raised, “Leave now, because if I have to hex you, I will!"

“Curse me!” Remus said defiantly, throwing his arms out and exposing himself fully. He had come this far. He was not backing out now. He was going to face Dora and accept whatever fate she chose for him. “I don’t care! All I know is that I’m not going anywhere until I’ve apologised to Dora.”

Andromeda looked at Remus for a long time, Ted at her shoulder. Neither produced a spell, but neither lowered their wand either. 

“We can’t let you see her, Remus,” Ted said finally, his anger ebbing away to be replaced by what appeared to be pity. “Are you really so selfish that you’ll risk hurting Dora further just to clear your own guilty conscience?”

Remus wished Ted had shouted. He now felt worse than he had at any point when they were firing spells or punches in his direction. Was that really what he was doing? Was he here to just clear his conscience, regardless of the pain he might cause Dora? 

No! said the rational voice in his head firmly. You’re back for good, if she still wants you.

“I’m not here to hurt your daughter, Ted, especially for the sake of clearing my conscience. I will never hurt your daughter again.”

“We don’t believe you,” Andromeda said, her voice forceful and her eyes narrowed.

“Then tell me what I have to do to convince you,” Remus said very calmly.

“You have to go,” Ted said, his face set. “If you really love our daughter and if you really care about her, then you will leave now.”

Was he being selfish coming back here? Was Ted right? Should he leave? Was that the right course of action? After all, he was so convinced that leaving Dora in the first place was the right thing and it wasn’t. Could he really trust his own judgement anymore?

His insides crumbling, Remus looked from Dora’s parents to the road just beyond their front garden. The night was dark. The street lamps were no longer working. There was a strange chill lingering in the air. It wasn’t simply the chill of winter setting in, this chill was of a different sort; it was the kind that robbed all warmth from the evening, the kind that was impervious to cloaks and scarves and hats. This kind of cold seeped into the soul and nested in there for a long time. If he left now he would be surrendering himself to this chill and the darkness that came with it. He would be consumed by it and it would destroy him. He looked back at Ted and Andromeda and their cosy home. He imagined Dora inside in the sitting room; warm, safe and peaceful, asleep before a roaring fire. If he walked into her life again would he be opening the doors and allowing this darkness and this despairing chill to enter her life and destroy her?

“Mum? Dad? What’s going on?” Dora had appeared in the doorway.

 The sound of her voice caused every fibre of Remus’s being to tremble. He was dragged from his thoughts back to reality, back to where he was. A wave of heat crashed over him, knocking the breath out of him. 

“Dora, just wait inside, we’ve got everything under control, just wait inside,” Ted said reassuringly. 

Too late.

Dora pushed passed her parents and her gaze fell on her husband. “Remus?” she said as though she did not believe what she was seeing.

“Yes, it’s me,” Remus replied, looking anywhere but at her. He was afraid that if he looked at her, then he would never be able to stop looking. He was afraid he wouldn’t have the will to leave if she asked him to. He was afraid of going off and living a life that did not have her in it.

Dora did not stop looking at him, still unsure if he was a ghost or a corporeal being. She stepped towards him, still holding him in her gaze. Ted and Andromeda retreated inside the house, leaving them alone, but they nevertheless assured Dora and they would be just behind the door if she needed them. Ted added that he had no qualms about cursing the werewolf to the end of the earth if it came to it. Dora’s frame seemed to stiffen at these words. Remus was truly afraid now.

Darkness swallowed Remus and Dora when Ted closed the door behind him. The eerie orange glow from the sitting room was the only source of light. Darkness and shadow seemed to strangle everything. A dreadful chill hung in the air. Remus’s heart was pounding in his ears again. A wave of heated panic was coursing through his body, bracing everything for the attack that was to come. Ignoring all this, he looked at his wife for the first time in a week and a half. The pale light seemed to rob her face of all colour. She looked pallid and ghost-like. She was thinner and her hair was mousy-brown. There was something missing in her eyes, they were consumed by a despairing darkness that stripped them of all the fire and light they used to encase. It was his fault, all his fault.

She continued to step near him. He wasn’t sure if she was going to hug him or hit him. “What happened to your nose?” she asked conversationally. She hadn’t hit him; that was definitely a good sign.

“Your Dad,” Remus said dully. 

“I’m not going to stand here and say you didn’t deserve it,” she replied, rather coldly.

Remus’s heart sank. The whole world was silently crumbling around him, making it hard to breathe or speak. His heart was screaming. Dora was going to send him away, he knew it.

“Here,” she said, removing her wand from an inner pocket of her robes and pointing it at his face. Remus closed his eyes, ready for the blow. It did not come. Instead, a hot feeling spread through his broken nose as the bone magically mended itself. Remus opened his eyes, she hadn’t cursed him, she had healed him; perhaps all was not yet lost. 

“Thanks,” he muttered feebly, not trusting himself to look her in the eye. 

Dora stretched out her hand as though to touch his face, but then stopped herself and turned her back on him.

This was it, this was the moment. He was going to lose her, right here, right now.

“Dora, I’m sorry,” Remus said, rather frantically. “What I did was wrong, and I know that there is nothing I can say that can justify what I did, and I’m not trying to, but – you see – I ... I didn’t leave because I didn’t love you, I left because I thought you’d be better off without me. I made you an outcast by marrying you and ... and I knew that things would only get worse if anyone found out I fathered a child. My kind don’t usually breed. If Muggle-borns are being hunted down, imagine what the new regime would do to a child that was born a werewolf? I left because I thought you would both be safer without me in your lives.”

Dora was looking at him again as though afraid that if her eyes left him for even an instant then he would just disappear, evaporate into the ether, never to return. However, her lack of a response to his apology disturbed him. He couldn’t read her face. He didn’t know what she was thinking or how she felt at his reappearance. All knew was that Dora deserved the truth, the whole truth. He had to stop being negative about himself, stop putting himself down and stop blaming himself for everything. Dora was a member of the Order of the Phoenix and her mother had married a Muggle-born, she would be an outcast in this new regime regardless of whether or not she had a werewolf for a husband. He had to stop being cynical, stop being pessimistic, stop callously calculating everything and stop blaming every bad thing on the bite he got when he was five. Dora was his wife. She had chosen to spend her life with him. She deserved to know everything. 

“I was scared, Dora,” Remus began quietly, but he had no idea where to go from there. This conversation was going to the hardest one of his life, even worse than the one he had with James, Sirius and Peter after they revealed that they knew about his condition. 

“Scared of what, Remus?” Dora asked curtly. Her face was emotionless, but at least she was talking. Perhaps she was just glad that he was actually letting her in; that he was taking down the iron curtain he had erected around himself to protect himself, and those around him, from the monster within. “Being captured by Death Eaters? Being tortured? Dying? Or were you just afraid of being happy?”

“Not death or torture, no,” Remus replied slowly, not looking at his wife. He feared many things in this world, but pain and death were not even on the list. He did not fear death, when it came he would welcome it, for at least in death he would be free, free of his curse. But maybe he was afraid of being happy; after everything he had been through in life, perhaps he was just afraid that if he was happy then something would go very badly wrong and the universe would take that happiness away from him, as it had done so many times before.

“I was scared that the child would hate me for passing my condition onto it,” Remus said finally, his voice strangely quiet. 

“And I’ve told you about a hundred times that we don’t know if the baby is a werewolf, it might be fine.” Her tone was harsh and angry. He still couldn’t read her expression. He didn’t know what she was thinking. It was impossible to tell.

Remus knew what he had to say next, but it was so difficult to find the words. He was about to admit the fear that had consumed him since he found out about his imminent parenthood. “I know,” he replied truthfully, “and I thought that if by some great miracle it wasn’t like me, then – then...” This was so hard, letting her in like he was trying to do. 

“Then what, Remus?” she said. He still couldn’t read her tone.

“Then if the child wasn’t like me, then I was afraid that it would be ashamed of me, that it would wish it had any other father but me – that it would tell me that it hated me.”

Tears swelled in Dora’s eyes, as they had done in Hermione’s so many days ago. She reached her hand out to him as though wanting to pull him out of his dark world of anxiety, troubled thoughts and pain. He wanted to reach out and grab her and a never let go, but he was afraid that instead of Dora pulling him out of the shadows, he would pull her down into them with him. 

So he drew back from her, feeling undeserving of her pity.

“Remus, you have to stop this,” Dora said, her voice sounding almost cold as she lowered her hand. “Your son or daughter’ll love you, werewolf and all, but first you’ve to stop seeing yourself as the animal or as the old man.”

“That’s how the world sees me,” Remus replied bitterly.

“But that’s not what you are,” Dora half-shouted, her voice was angry again. 

“Maybe it is.”

“Don’t say that,” Dora snapped. She looked as though she wanted to jinx him for saying such a thing. “You suffer from lycanthropy, but it doesn’t make you who you are. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t Remus Lupin, my husband, Sirius’s and James’s best friend and Harry’s good friend too. Have you forgotten all that? Aren’t those things part of you too?”

Remus said nothing. She was mad at him. He was opening up, he was letting her in, casting aside his iron curtain and admitting all his fears and dreads to her, and she was belittling his fears, dismissing them as silliness. He was admitting his anxieties and she was getting mad at him for having them, as if he could control what he feared.

“You were the great teacher, the one who saw the worth in every kid, even when they couldn’t see it in themselves. Doesn’t that show more about you than a transformation you can’t help?”

“That still doesn’t change that fact that once a month I could infect every single one of them, without a second thought,” he pointed out, his voice growing more bitter.

“It wouldn’t be you that infected them, it would be the animal you have no control over! You’re a member of the Order of the Phoenix, for Merlin’s sake, Remus! You’ve devoted your life to stopping You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters. You’re not a monster, and if you don’t stop referring to yourself as such, so help me I’ll hex you into next week!” 

Remus looked at Dora. He couldn’t believe that after everything he had done she was still standing there defending him, as Sirius and James had always done. Maybe there was truth in her words, maybe there wasn’t. He didn’t know. 

“I’ve told you a hundred times, Remus, I don’t care that you’re a werewolf, I don’t care that you’re poor and I definitely don’t care that you’re older than me. But what I do care about is you constantly putting yourself down like that. Just because some people think you’re a monster doesn’t mean you are.”

“It does,” Remus replied irritably. He was feeling angry and frustrated and he did not understand why. “All my life people have seen me as nothing more than monster!” he shouted. He was surprised by how anguished his voice sounded. He had to shout, there was no other way, there were too many emotions, feelings, thoughts and memories colliding violently around inside him, that if he did not do something he would explode on the spot with the force of it all. “Once people learn of my affliction they no longer talk to me! No one will hire me because of what I am! That Umbridge woman has passed decree after decree which has made it impossible for me to get any type of job! No one wants anything to do with me because of what I am!”

I want something to do with you!” Dora retorted vehemently, as her hands gestured madly into the air. “So does Harry, Kingsley, the whole Order and the Weasleys! Molly Weasley wouldn’t invite you over for dinner all the bloody time if she wanted nothing to do with you! James and Sirius wanted something to do with you too, so did Dumbledore! And so did Mad-Eye and he was as careful and as cautious as you get; only the truly deserving gained his trust and low and behold, guess what, Remus? He trusted you! And Mad-Eye didn’t trust dark wizards or even suspected dark-wizards! And he definitely didn’t trust monsters or demons; he only trusted deserving human beings.”

She didn’t understand. James and Sirius and Harry only wanted something to do with him because they had gotten to know him as a person before they learned of his condition. If it had been the other way around then things would have been different, they would have reacted with disgust just like all the other boys he had tried to befriend in his childhood years. And the only reason Mad-Eye and the Order trusted him was because he had Dumbledore’s support, and once he had that, only then were the others able to see past the monster to the man behind it. If Dumbledore hadn’t vouched for him, there would have been no way on earth he would have gained the Order’s trust and friendship.

Ah, but listen to this, piped up the voice inside his head, why did Dumbledore trust you in the first place? He knew of your condition before he knew you and he still trusted you.

That was because I was just a kid, just a scared little kid and he took pity on me, Remus snapped back at the voice in his head.

It was more than pity, said the voice.

Dumbledore trusts blindly, without reason, look at Snape, Remus replied, ending the internal debate inside his head. That settled the matter. Dumbledore had trusted Snape for the flimsiest of reasons and Snape had betrayed him and Snape had killed him. Dumbledore would always trust those he shouldn’t; Remus was no special case.

Remus sighed heavily and in a wearied and defeated voice he muttered: “You can preach all you want, Dora, but I’m not a human being, and I haven’t been one since I was five.”

Dora looked like she was about to throttle him, but Remus couldn’t figure out if it was because of what he said or how he said it. She glared at him, the tips of her hair actually turning fiery red. “The papers are now calling Harry a liar!” she shouted forcefully, marching up to him and staring him square in the face. “A liar and an attention seeking delinquent and a murderer, and do you believe them?” 

“No,” he admitted, looking at his shoes. Harry wasn’t any of those things. Harry was brave and good and loyal.

“The Ministry are now saying that all Muggle-borns are a poison that’s infecting the wizarding world, do you believe them?” She was standing alarmingly close to him. Bizarrely, Remus had an overpowering urge to kiss her, but thought better of it.

“No,” he replied flatly, his gaze still on his shoes. 

“And why don’t you believe them?” Dora asked brashly, her jaw stiffening and her face set.

“Because I know Harry and I know Muggle-borns and what the Ministry are saying are lies.”

“So why in the name of Merlin do you believe them when they call you a monster?”

“It’s different.”

“It’s not.”

“It is. I’m dangerous! I am a monster!” 

Silence engulfed the pair of them as soon as Remus finished speaking, pressing down upon them with great intensity. Dora was glowering at him; all the fire had returned to her eyes. Remus stared back at her, feeling ashamed. It wasn’t until after he had said it aloud that he realised how ridiculous his statement was. If he was a monster, then why did leaving Dora in the first place cause him such agony and guilt? If he was a demon, then why was he here apologising? If he was a violent animal then how was it that he had gathered around him so many great friends in life? Monsters inflict pain for the sake of it, they don’t feel guilty about it and they certainly don’t apologise for it. Monsters have no friends.

“Then they’ve won, Remus,” Tonks said sadly, shaking her head, “The second you admit that, all those people who treated you like scum, all those idiots that saw the wolf before they saw the man have won.” She paused, her eyes were boring into his; demanding he see reason. “And, think about this, Remus, the second you admit that You-Know-Who, his Death Eaters, his Ministry and his whole regime have won.”

There was silence at these words, and images of every person who had treated him like an animal swam in front of Remus’s eyes. All the curses and foul-names that had been tossed his way pounded in his ears. Every shocked, disgusted, frightened and revolted face flickered before him. Then he saw Voldemort laughing, his voice high-pitched, triumphant and cruel. Voldemort had killed James, Lily and Mad-Eye. He had orphaned Harry. He was out there hunting Harry as they spoke. He was murdering people left, right and centre, for no reason at all. Snape had killed Dumbledore. Bellatrix had killed Sirius and tortured the Longbottoms into insanity. Remus felt his frame stiffen when these thoughts flooded his brain. Finally, he raised his head. There was no way he was going to let them win. He would fight them; fight them with all the strength he possessed. They couldn’t win. He wouldn’t let them.

“They can’t win, Dora, I won’t allow it,” he said firmly, clenching his fists. 

He was not a monster and he was through with society making him feel like one and he was through seeing himself as one too. He raised his head and looked into Dora’s blue eyes and he knew at that moment that eyes like that definitely didn’t fall in love with monsters. 

“I’m sorry,” he said again, understanding now what James, Sirius, Harry, Dumbledore, Mad-Eye, Kingsley, the Weasleys and Tonks had known all along; something he himself had known once, but had forgotten along the way; that he was a human being and transforming into a werewolf didn’t change that, and never could change that.

Dora’s expression seemed to soften almost instantly as though she understood how far he had travelled in the last few minutes. He smiled weakly and she met his smile with one of her own, then threw her arms around his neck and held him tight. Her embrace seemed to drain him of all doubt and fear. Anxiety could not exist while she held him in her arms.

Remus’s fears had not by any means been quelled, but he would face them with Dora at his side. What was coming would come and they would meet it together, and if it was meant to be, it was meant to be. They would make it in the end, if they were meant to. 

“I love you,” he whispered.

She released him slightly and looked into his face, rubbing his chin with the back of her finger. “I love you too,” she whispered back, “werewolf, greying hair and all.” 

Then, she was kissing him and he was kissing her back. For the first time that evening his heart calmed, returning its beats to a normal level. He just enjoyed the feeling of her lips on his, of standing there with her in his arms in their own little world, protected from fear, hurt and anger, protected from darkness, danger and grief. How had he ever even considered letting her go? He was happy and he now knew that there was nothing wrong with being happy. Being happy was good, and if his happiness now was to be part of some terrible sadness later on, then so be it. He would enjoy every second of happiness while he had it. What was coming would come, and if death was part of that coming, the death of himself, Harry, Dora, or his child, well, he had known their love, known their friendship, and when he thought of it like that death really wasn’t that terrible after all.

“I’m glad you came back,” Tonks said, her hair suddenly turning into her signature vivid pink as she rested her head on his chest, finding comfort in his steady heart beat.

“Me too,” Remus whispered, before she kissed him again, dragging him out of a world of shadows, demons, ghosts and monsters, and into a world of blissful oblivion. She was saving him; bringing the old ghost out of his dark, tortured prison. Everything was going to be alright. What was coming was coming. They were in fate’s hands now.

We’ll get there if we should.

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