They were close. He didn't know how he knew this but he did. Something in the air had changed. As if a thousand fireworks had disturbed the atmosphere leaving only the vibrations in the sky. A nervous excitement had punctured the air amidst the chaos.
Had Harry succeeded? Whatever he was doing in the castle tonight was he any closer to finishing the job?
Remus Lupin stumbled into the nearby wall which was no longer fully erected, half its brick work lay on the floor beneath his feet like crumbs. He touched his forehead and drew back his hand to find it stained red, no big deal, he was ok.
He willed himself to step forward, to leave the luxury of the wall's support to once again join the foray.
His head felt paper light, a strange haze surrounding his eyesight. What had that blasted Thorfinn Rowle done to him. The useless fool had sent a rather badly aimed Confundus charm his way, no doubt hoping to slow him down. He was caught off guard and although the spell had failed it still managed to effect his mind briefly, leaving him unsteady and vulnerable.
"Avada Kedvra!" The spell zipped like a bolt of lightning past his face. He spun slightly off balance to find Rowle glaring back at him, his wand held high.
"Stupefy!" He sent the spell sailing with hope towards his attacker. Rowle stepped back and blocked it easily.
"Ha you stupid dog!" He spat, a sickening grin snaking onto his lips. "Must be losing your touch old man."
Lupin managed a grin through the pain in his ribs. "Just needed to get you where I wanted you. Confringo!" He snatched his wand upwards and aimed for the crumbling ceiling above Rowle's head which came crashing down onto him with the force of an anvil. The stone smashed and splintered sending debris Lupin's way. A particularly large piece caught him in the face sending him falling backwards, his head landing on the floor with a sickening thump.
The room span, a thousand little lights cluttered his vision.
He reached out and repositioned the small flickering one on the tree. He took a step back and smiled, shaking his head. A Christmas tree looked so out of character at number 12 Grimmauld Place. A beacon of joy and colour in a house black in every sense of the word.
He turned towards the voice that had appeared at the living room door. Her bright pink hair tucked away behind a hood soaked in rain. He felt a strong surge run through his body as if someone had lit a fire inside his chest.
"How is he?" Tonks asked pulling the hood down as she made her way towards him.
"He's fine. They got to him in time. He's at St. Mungo's for now, so is the rest of the family." He smiled though still found it hard to rid the nervous edge to his voice.
"I heard it was a snake but how..."
"Voldemort." He said simply, she winced at the name and came to join him by the tree's side.
Thy both stared at the evergreen for a while. The silence only breaking when Tonks spoke again.
"And you? How are you?" Her voice was quiet and steady. She shifted her gaze sideways to look at him.
"I'm fine. You know I am." He tried desperately to mask the bite of frustration in his voice and opted to smile weakly at her.
"How would I know? You won't answer my owls and trying to find you these days is like searching for you-know-who himself." She frowned pushing her hands onto her waist. "Ever since I..." she went quiet for a moment, a pained expression darkening her eyes. "It's as if you wish I'd never said anything."
His heart sank, he didn't want to talk about it again but the emotion in her words caught him off guard. "Tonks look you're still young."
"Don't give me that." She snapped. "I'm not a child."
"I know." He replied softly. "Believe me."
"So what's the issue?" She asked a note of hope in her voice.
"Oh I don't know Tonks maybe it's just the small matter of me turning into a hideous beast every full moon. I know it's only a tiny problem but it's a start." He added sarcastically.
"You know I don't care about that."
"But I do." He argued his voice growing more strained.
"Good for you." She poked him in the chest. "I would expect no less but please trust me when I say I've thought about this. I want to be with you."
The words danced like a drumroll in his stomach. A warm feeling spreading throughout his tired and scarred body. His forced the feeling down taking a deep breath. "Nymph-"
"You call me that and I will slap you." She raised her hand in the air as if begging him to continue.
He let a grin cheat his facade of seriousness but only briefly. "Ok what about the fact I have nothing to offer. I haven't had a job for nearly two years Tonks. Apart from a few things here and there I'm barely scraping by."
"If I wanted some rich, pompous snob I'd marry a Malfoy like my aunt. "
"Then there's the age. You've barely lived long enough to know what you truly want."
"Neither have you. Hiding away and living in the shadows isn't living Remus."
"Fine!" He barked finally letting his frustration boil over. "Let's just run off together then. Then one night when I'm feeling peckish I'll just sink my teeth into you while you sleep."
"Don't be dramatic!" She shouted back bawling her fists. "As if you ever be so spontaneous!" She turned and walked towards and old torn armchair. "If it's just you can't face turning me down don't worry about it. If you don't want to be with me that's fine. If you're too scared..."
"Scared! Of course I'm scared. I'm terrified." He strode over to her taking her shoulders in his hands and turning her round to face him. "I've never wanted something so much in my life. The fact I could destroy something so important to me. Tear apart the only thing I've ever truly desired. You think I don't want this?" He gripped her tightly bringing her face to his and kissing her. Firm and fiercely he held her lips on his, taking long deep breaths letting her scent turn his rational mind to dust. Her hand holding his arm fell limp and she leaned into him taking her arms and wrapping them round his neck.
He placed his hand on her neck, feeling the smooth soft skin grace his rough fingers. Her pulse thumping like a drum, the blood running through her veins like a river. His fingernails began to dig into the soft supple flesh.
"NO!" He pushed Tonks away backing off and slamming into the mantle on the fireplace.
"Lupin please it's ok." Tonks made towards him her hand rubbing her neck.
"STAY AWAY!" He took long breaths bending down placing his hands on his knees. "It's too close till the next moon. I knew it was too close." He took his fist and slammed it violently onto the side table by the chair.
"It's ok. We'll be careful."
"No." He replied bluntly.
Tonks stopped in her tracks glaring at him. "No? Don't just kiss me like that and then take it back."
"You do realise what I was about to do to you?" He growled at her trying to wipe the smell of blood from his nostrils.
"Well with any luck, but if you keep pushing me away we'll never..."
"This isn't a time for jokes."
"Of course it is you idiot. If not now then when? When we're married?"
"See it's the perfect time for jokes." She crossed her arms and smiled at him. "It's ok Remus, I'm fine. We just need to be careful that's all. I'm willing to put in the effort."
He looked back at her fighting the mad urge to take her and kiss her all over again.
The pain surged through his cranium, as he rolled over, pushing himself onto his knees. The hole in the castle ceiling let in the moonlight from the window in the room above. Rowle's hand poked crookedly from the rubble.
He dusted himself off and made his way wearily down the corridor, a thin trail of blood pouring into his eye and blurring his vision.
He had to find Harry, he must. He was willing to turn the entire castle over just so he could stick by his side.
"Professor!" A cry came ringing along the stone walls like a siren. He could make out the shape of a young girl staggering down the corridor. Her hair was matted with blood which ran to her neck and chest. Fresh gashes looking raw and painful ran along her skins surface.
Lavender Brown collapsed before she could reach him. He knelt down and propped her up on his knee. "It's ok Miss Brown I've got you." He placed a hand on her head feeling the heat rise towards his hand.
"I've lost Hermione. She saved me." Lavender's breaths were ragged and torn from her throat. "I can't move my arm." She tried to raise her left arm but the large tears in her flesh were too deep and had rendered it useless. Her eyelids sagged slightly as she stared around her. "Where's Hermione?" She whimpered.
Lupin had seen this before and felt a dreaded chill fill his mind.
"There you are my deary. Where did you run off to?" The voice sent a shiver down Lupin's spine, it was as thick as curdled blood and rattled off the walls. He looked up from the girl to find Fenrir Greyback stalking the halls, his mouth painted with a smattering of blood. He had a cut above his eye and was covered in glass. He smiled when his eyes fell onto Lupin.
"Well what is this my love? Running into the arms of the next beast you can find but I haven't finished with you yet." His tongue licked the blood off his teeth as he bared them.
Lupin gently leant Lavender against the stone wall and stood up placing himself between her and Greyback.
"You don't touch her." He growled at Fenrir, squeezing his hands into tight fists, holding his wand tight.
"Too late." The beast sang, waving a bloodied hand in Lupin's face.
"You sick bastard." Lupin could feel his whole body shake, years of hatred and resentment tearing at his chest dying to get out and rip a hole in the world.
"Oh do join the club Lupin." Fenrir whined rolling his eyes. "This whole noble and just act is really testing my patience." His eyes narrowed and bore into him. "We are what we are."
"I'm nothing like you."
"Oh yes you are. We're all just beasts hiding in plain sight. All you need is the right incentive." And with that he cast a stunning spell at Lupin which he blocked but not fast enough to sidestep Fenrir as he launched himself towards him. Crashing into the wall behind painfully Fenrir took his long sharp nails and dug them into Lupin's face. Tearing and scraping at him. Lupin grabbed hold of the werewolf's robes and pushed him back, placing his foot on the stone behind to propel them backward onto the floor.
Fenrir rolled away before leaping at him again, relentless. He pinned Lupin to the floor and sunk his teeth into his shoulder. Lupin screamed, the rage forcing him to bite back despite lacking Fenrir's sharp fangs.
Greyback laughed heartily. "Not bad my boy. Might even leave a mark." He grabbed hold of Lupin's hair and smashed his head onto the floor. A sea of red covered his sight as blood soaked his face.
He pulled the blanket of red down and let the covers rest just below his navel. He felt Tonk's arm drape across his bare chest. She rested her chin on his shoulder, whispering into his ear. "I thought you said no biting."
He chuckled and looked down at her face. She ran her foot over his leg and pulled him close, taking a deep breath into his chest and letting it out slowly.
"Are you ok?" He asked running his fingers over her bare back.
"I'm always ok if I'm with you." She purred then burst out laughing. "Did I really just say that?"
"Oh don't spoil it." Lupin grinned. He looked out of the window of the Leaky Cauldron's room. The half moon peaked out of the thick clouds resting on his outstretched arm. He watched its glow creep up his skin towards his face. He turned away, preferring to focus on Tonks instead.
"Have you told your parents yet?" He asked.
"Well I don't think they'd be interested in what we've just been doing."
"Tonks! I mean about us being together."
"I'm just trying to enjoy the fact I've got you all to myself. It's not really their business is it?" She grinned tracing her finger over one of the scars that ran across his abdomen.
"But surely they'd be worried considering the facts."
"I don't know. The only fact I care about is that you make me feel safer than I've ever felt. That'll have to be enough for them."
Lupin felt a swell of emotion swim deep within him. He held her tighter. Years of being alone, stranded between one world and the next waiting for something. Back then he didn't know what for. Now, looking down at the witch gently kissing his chest he knew what it was, who it was.
"I'm sorry about the room. It's all I can afford and considering what Dumbledore's had me doing over the past few weeks I haven't really had time to scrape up enough for better accommodation." He scratched his nose self consciously.
"It's fine. All I need is you, four walls and somewhere to sleep." A devilish smile playing on the corners of her lips. "I mean once we've settled down we can search for something a bit more roomier but..."
"Settled down?" He peered at her through the dull light.
"You know once we're married and..."
"Oh were married now are we?"
"Don't you want to?" She asked simply as if she was asking him if he wanted a cup of tea.
"Oh go on then." He grinned.
"You old romantic." She teased but suddenly a fresh glow had filled her face, her smile a little wider. She pulled herself towards his face and kissed him deeply. The war would rage on outside the pub but tonight it could wait.
"Now my lovely where was I?" Lupin watched dazed as Fenrir made his way towards the reclined figure of Lavender Brown, the menace and intent in his voice obvious.
"No... please..." Lavender's voice was naught but a whisper now. She didn't even move, just resorted to helplessly pleading with her attacker.
"NO!" Lupin mustered all the strength he had left to force himself to his feet. He charged at Greyback, wrapping his arms around his waist, tackling him to the floor. The anger welled up inside Lupin like a burning fire. He clambered on top of him and tore at his face, bringing his fists down hard onto his nose repeatedly.
Fenrir howled in pain but Lupin did not relent. He dug his fingers into Greyback's neck, clawing at the skin. Grabbing fistfuls of the beast's long dirty hair and slamming his head onto the stone, screaming in rage.
Fenrir kicked at Lupin's stomach hitting him hard and forcing him off. Lupin scrambled to his feet desperately searching for his wand. He found it only yards away but spun round to find that Greyback was already running for the large oak door leading away from the corridor towards the dungeons. He made to take off after him but stopped when he remembered Lavender.
He dashed over to her, taking her head in his wounded hand and leaning it up.
"Miss Brown? Miss Brown? Lavender?"
Lupin felt the sorrow flood his head as he gazed upon the young girl's unblinking stare. Cold and lifeless. A trickle of blood ran down her cheek. He gently wiped it away with his finger. Another life robbed of a future, a chance to live fully dashed.
He screamed in frustration before slowly lowering her head back onto the floor. He closed her eyes and took off his cloak laying it over her still body.
"I'm so sorry." He placed a hand on her cheek, then rose to his feet and made for the Great Hall.
A mass of duelling wands filled the air, spells flying everywhere. He sent a few of his own to help those struggling. He felt sick, his head spinning. He stomped across the mayhem and clattered through the old oak doors of the castle.
The hallway was quiet. He panted heavily having only just heard the news and came rushing straight over. He'd only been here once before, the day Tonks had told her parents of their engagement.
The hallway was dim with only a small lampshade casting the narrow hallway with a lazy yellow glow. A woman with long light brown hair came through the door to Lupin's left. She spotted him and positively beamed. A smile almost the width of her face.
"Remus. Come here, come here."
Lupin walked the gap between them grasping Tonks' mother by the hand and shaking it before being pulled in for a tight armed hug. She kissed his cheek.
"What a beautiful boy! Great head of hair and the eyes oh the eyes on him." Andromeda couldn't contain her joy, she placed a hand on Lupin's face and patted it gently.
Lupin who had entered the house rather fretfully let Andromeda's happiness wash over him. "So everything is ok then? He's fine? And Tonks, she's ok too?"
"Mother and baby are happy and healthy my dear." Her cheeks flushed red as she smiled.
"And my son, there no... problems?" He just couldn't shake it. The day he longed for and feared in equal measure had finally arrived and both emotions were tussling inside him like fish in a barrel.
"Why don't you go and see for yourself." She grinned pointing up the staircase next to them.
Lupin swallowed hard, grasping the banister for dear life. Every step felt like a mountain. When he reached the top Poppy Pomfrey exited from the bedroom, her nightcap and dressing gown on, carrying a large leather satchel.
She smiled at him and patted his shoulder. "Congratulations Remus." She whispered. "Would have preferred that she had gone to hospital but there simply wasn't time."
"Thank you." Lupin replied in a hushed tone. "Is everything alright? Everything... normal?"
Poppy frowned but the smile still remained in her eyes. "Tonks mentioned that would most likely be the first thing you asked."
When he merely replied with a nervous laugh she sighed and patted him again. "Everything is fine. His hair hasn't stop changing colour just like his mother but that's it."
Lupin felt the relief pour over him like water on a flame. "Can I carry your bag for you?" He asked, a smile finally emerging on his features.
"Just get yourself inside that room." She nodded towards the door and waved as she descended the stairs.
Lupin faced the bedroom door and took a long slow breath before grasping the handle and turning.
The room was dark. A tiny bedside lamp shone in the corner illuminating his wife with a small bundle of blankets in her arms. Her eyes were closed and her brow damp. She looked exhausted but the contentment she wore on her face remained as she slept.
Lupin quietly took a seat in the armchair by her bedside. Taking them both in like some exquisite artwork. The boy's face rested on his mothers chest, fast asleep, a brilliant shock of dark hair on his head. Lupin couldn't take his eyes away from him. He could never in his life remember being this happy, whilst the wizarding world was falling apart his was being rebuilt piece by piece.
Tonks stirred and her eyes creeped open resting on him. She smiled warmly. "Remus my love. Look what we did. Isn't he beautiful?"
He leaned forward in his chair and kissed her cheek, then softly placing another on his son's forehead. "I'm so proud of you."
"And him." She added. "Do you want to take him for a bit."
"I thought you'd never ask." He nervously placed his rough, scarred hand under the boy's head and lifted him from his mother's arms. He was so light, as if a gust of wind could take him away. He pulled him tightly to his chest and got to his feet, slowly moving over to the window. The night was silent apart from the hoot of an owl and the faint hum of traffic somewhere far off.
"Are you still ok with Edward?" She asked, laying her head back and watching them.
"Teddy Lupin hey? Are you sure you don't want Lyall?" He grinned.
She scoffed and smiled. "Maybe the next one... maybe."
As Lupin looked down at his son all the fears and concerns involving his birth seem to drift away to the furthest corner of his mind. Right now all he could see was the small tiny ray of hope shining up at him from the blankets.
"You are just perfect." He whispered as Teddy awoke. He looked up at his father, a moment of silent contemplation before falling back to sleep.
"My boys." Tonks said softly, closing her eyes again.
The hall was manic. Students, teachers and Death Eaters filled the room. A mass of wands and spells punctuated by loud bangs and cries of pain.
Lupin pushed forward and leapt over the fallen suit of armour in the doorway, sending a stunning curse towards Rookwood who had been standing with wand held aloft over Dean Thomas. He helped the boy to his feet pushing him away towards the destroyed Hufflepuff dining table.
"Where's Harry?" He asked, taking a moment to let the air rush back into his lungs.
"No idea. Seamus said he saw him running about the seventh floor a while ago."
"How is everyone?"
"Professor we need more help. They're starting to gain ground, Death Eaters have swarmed the courtyard and we're barely keeping them at bay."
Lupin wanted to leave, he needed to find Harry, help in some way but when he cast his eyes upon the death and destruction of the Great Hall he knew he must remain.
"Thank god those Aurors showed up when they did. That woman with the pink hair really helped out."
"What?" Lupin stared at Dean, his eyes wide.
"I don't know her name. She just appeared out of nowhere, she took out two Death Eaters on her own." He looked impressed.
"Where is she?" He wanted to grab hold of Dean and shake the answer from him but restrained himself.
"Last I saw of her she was heading towards the Astronomy Tower I think. She was chasing down that mad woman with the black hair."
Lupin felt unease flood his system. The shock replaced by a fear that sunk its teeth in deep. The look on his face must have spoken louder than he intended.
"Do you know her?" Dean asked.
"She's my wife." He replied with a frown, "I didn't know she was here."
"Bloody hell." exclaimed Dean, sending a leg locking curse towards a Death Eater running past them. "You better go then."
"But I can't leave you all here." Lupin shouted, busy blocking a curse sent his way.
"Yes you can. We'll keep them busy while you're gone. Go find her and get back here as soon as you can." Dean jumped on top of the leg locked enemy and stunned him with his wand. "Go!" He shouted sensing Lupin's hesitation.
With one final look at the scene before him he turned and made for the staircase once again. Bounding up the steps he ignored the duelling wizards and Death Eaters around him. One thing only mattered now, Tonks was here in the castle and she'd taken off after the one person who he considered too much to handle alone. He'd heard tales of course from Sirius regarding his cousin, none of them good. His experience with her at the Ministry did little to bolster his confidence either.
He could feel his skin itch with nervous anticipation as he made his way towards the Astronomy Tower desperate to find his wife and make sure she was ok. He came to a halt at the towers entrance, the door smashed into tiny pieces. Detecting no sound of conflict he crept past the door and chanced a look into the tower's observation deck. His breath caught in his throat as he spotted a group of six Death Eaters gathered together no doubt regrouping, preparing for another push on the school.
He recognised Estrild Eastaughffe a sharp faced Death Eater who's picture he'd seen in the Daily Prophet only last week and Carver Paddon a Snatcher he had come across during his time on the run.
"Where is he?" Moaned Carver stomping over to a piece of destroyed wall and kicking it off the tower's edge.
"Calm down Paddon. He'll be here soon."
"When though? Where is The Dark Lord. Why doesn't he join us and wipe the lot of them out."
"It is not our place to question." One of the others said sternly earning a daggered stare from Paddon.
Lupin watched them for a moment weighing up his options. Six was too many but if he could just separate them somehow.
"Look who it is." The voice was cold and dripping with ill intent. Lupin felt the wand jab sharply into the back of his neck. He didn't need to turn round to recognise the voice of Bellatrix Lestrange who had silently approached him from behind. "Lets go meet everyone shall we?" She snatched his wand and tossed it aside and then pushed Lupin hard in the back as he stumbled out into the open. The group of wizards turned to face him.
"What's this?" Paddon demanded but his face grew tight when he spotted Bellatrix.
"So. This is where you've all been hiding." Bellatrix scowled giving Lupin another sharp poke in the back.
"We were not hiding Bellatrix. We're trying to form a plan of attack." Paddon snapped, with a nettled brow.
"Well Wolfy here might be able to help us out with that one." She grinned manically coming round to face him, her wand levelled right between his eyes. "Were is the boy?"
"I don't know I-"
"WHERE IS POTTER!" She screamed, turning her sinister tone into a maniacal rage.
"I don't know and if I did I wouldn't tell you." He glared and Bellatrix, desperately searching the space for a means of escape.
"CRUCIO!" Bellatrix jabbed her wand into his chest. Lupin screamed in pain, dropping to his knees. "WHERE IS HE?"
Lupin fell forward onto his hands, taking long drawn out breaths as the curse subsided.
"You're going to lose Bellatrix." He forced a triumphant smile, watching as her face crumpled inwards, her anger bubbling like a cauldron beneath her skin.
"The Dark Lord will never fail." She circled him, her fist clenched tight around her wand. The rest of the Death Eaters closed rank around her. Paddon grinning joyfully, Estrild picking up his wand that lay on the ground. "CRUCIO!"
Again Lupin screamed, even the anguish of a full moon transformation couldn't compare to the searing pain that hammered his entire body.
"Where is the boy?" Bellatrix asked again, she was starting to have fun now. The joy of inflicting pain lit up her eyes, the fire of evil danced within them. "You filthy half-breed!"
Estrild frowned and took a tentative step forward. "Bella stop! He won't be able to talk if you don't..."
"Silence." She pointed her wand towards the Witch who backed away keeping her eyes on the glowing tip. "Now..." Bellatrix released Lupin from the curse, taking a step forward and slapping him hard in the face. "I will only ask once more. Where is the boy, where is Potter?"
He leaned back onto his knees and locked eyes with her but he said nothing.
"Nothing? Not even going to beg for your life? I wish you would." She pressed her finger to the tip of her wand, a grin playing on her lips. "It's so boring when they don't plead for mercy. Your father-in-law did. Isn't that right Paddon?"
Carver Paddon sniggered. "Like a dog."
"Well at least you two had something in common then." Bellatrix smiled.
"You killed Ted Tonks?" Lupin growled flicking his eyes toward Paddon.
"You can ask him yourself." Bellatrix snarled easing her wand above her head, the words sparked like electricity in the air. "Avada Kedav-"
"Avada Kedavra!" Estrild cried out sending the curse directly towards Bellatrix who span in an instant deflecting the spell away as it smashed into the tower wall. It all happened so fast that Lupin barely had time to react. Estrild leapt forward smashing her arm into Bellatrix's face sending her falling back. Then she spun round on the remaining group of Death Eaters. "Expulso!" She screamed sending the curse towards Paddon who took the spell directly in the stomach, flying backwards over the parapet and off the Tower, falling like a stone towards the ground far below.
She grabbed Lupin by the scruff of the neck, forcing his wand into his hand and dragging him away towards the exit. His legs shook but he ploughed onwards letting her hand lead him away. They could hear Bellatrix's screams behind them.
She pulled him downwards leaping multiple steps and diving into the nearest empty classroom. Lupin gasped for air as he stared towards the witch before him who leaned back onto a free desk, shaking her head. Her nose shrank, her eyes grew larger. Her lips were no longer thin and pale as they morphed. Her long straight black hair grew shorter, turning mouse brown.
"Tonks!" Lupin cried stepping forward and taking her into his arms. "What are you doing here?" Anger and joy mixed together leaving his voice strained.
"Remus I couldn't... I'm sorry I just..."
"With my mother. I needed to find you." She took a step towards him but he backed off in frustration.
"You can't be here." He ran his hands through his hair, staring at her wildly.
"I'm not a child!" She replied her hair turning red.
"I know that Tonks. I'm more concerned about our own!" He snapped back.
"He'll be safe with mum."
"Of course he will but what happens if..."
"It won't." She grabbed his hand roughly and placed it on her cheek. He didn't move it away and stroked her face. "I need to be with you. Fight along side you. Not just for Teddy's sake but for everyone's."
"What do you think would happen if we fail and Voldemort wins. What would become of Teddy then? It's as good a death sentence as any. I won't just sit at home while the fate of my son is being decided." Tears shimmered in her eyes. Lupin wiped them away.
"When did you get here?" He asked finally letting the calm notes return to his voice.
"A few hours ago. I was helping out with the fight in the great hall. Took a few down there and then, including Estrild. Then I took off after Bellatrix. I lost her near the Astronomy Tower but nearly ran into that group of Death Eaters instead. I had to think quick so I morphed into one of them. Thought I might be able to pick them off one by one or at least get some information out of them. Then you turned up and well..."
"Thanks." Lupin smiled at her, taking her hand into his. "Did you know... about Paddon?
"No." A single tear rolled down her face. "The bastard... to think he murder my..."
"You got him." Lupin again took her in his arms. She buried her face into his chest, wiping her eyes on his shirt.
"What now?" She asked looking up into his face.
"Now we do the best we can. Now we fight. Fight for Teddy."
His body cradled by the debris of war, broken and twisted in some ill fitting shape. The beast that slumbered within his body now laid to rest, never to rear its head again. He was alone once more as he had started. She was no longer by his side, torn apart in the chaos, forced to leave each other for the good of the others. As much as he needed her, she was needed elsewhere tonight.
He gave everything. His last breath as determined as his first, overpowered finally. His luck had run out. The eyes that held so much sadness within them, a lifetime of solitude and regret now held the faint glimmer of promise as they stared unblinking up towards the castle ceiling. The scars of old marked with fresh cuts and bruises. There was no one left now. The loyal Marauders were no more, their final adventure he had set off on alone and had ended in his failure.
No happy ending, no perfect picture book story, just loss, betrayal and death. But within those dark days and hopeless hours were scattered moments of true happiness. His friends who never let him succumb to his own misgivings, who looked past the curse of his flesh. They were the reason he continued to find a way forward, his guiding light in the storm of his youth.
And then there was her...
Remus felt the softness of the grass on his back, the sun resting on his face. The small tiny weight on his chest, little breaths seeping into his heart and lifting it like birdsong. He moved his head to the side his eyes closed, feeling the soft flesh of her legs under his head. He looked up.
Her hair, today long and blonde floated like clouds in the wind. The blue sky framing her face, captivating and comforting.
How long had he slept? One hour maybe two, who knows? He couldn't remember the last time of ever he had felt the soft caress of contentment. A feeling so foreign to his senses he barely believed in its existence.
One day was all they had. All hey had allowed themselves before heading back out into the darkness of the real world beyond the garden they rested in. Teddy stirred for a brief moment, clutching to his father's chest. He took his hand and softly stroked his son's head as he drifted back off into a world of his own imagination.
"Is this real?" He said aloud forgetting himself.
Tonks chuckled and shook her head. "Let's see." She lightly pinched his cheek.
The soft twinge of pain lingered on his face long after her fingers had departed. "Thanks for that." He said sarcastically.
"You're welcome my love."
He laughed. A real laugh not stifled by regret or undertones of pain, something he thought he'd lost the ability to do.
"Listen." He looked up at her again.
"If something should happen to me..."
"If it should." He continued, "I just want you to know that..."
"I know." She cut in placing a hand on his chest, letting it run onto her son's head, stroking his face.
"You really don't." He knew that each day could be their last and this thought never left him for a moment. "I was so alone. For the longest time I thought that all I had left in me to give was my will to fight, my life to offer. I was happy with that Tonks I really was. If I died I was content to go, as long as I could help others along the way it didn't matter when but..." he gazed into her eyes, the fresh smell of earth and her own sweet scent filled his lungs like nectar, a drug that filled his head with a hazy drunk feeling. "I don't want to die Tonks. I want to live." Hearing himself say these words for the first time caused his heart to pulse faster in his chest, the excitement of a future he never thought would come to be, the possibility of a life worth so much more than he had ever considered it being.
He would survive he thought to himself. He pictured himself with Tonks by his side standing on the platform at Kings across, Teddy waving at them from the carriage window, their son's first year at Hogwarts. Free to follow his own dream, not held back by his father's wretched curse. That thought alone seemed to make his own demons easier to contend with knowing his son did not have to fear such a life.
But for now, today, right now was his happiest moment. A life of endless highs and possibilities stretched out in front of his eyes as he stared into the blue ocean above him. He felt his son's breath on his chest and Tonks' fingers running through his hair knowing that if the time should come, if he were to leave this world before this war was through this would be the memory he would return to. In his dying moments he would find this place, this very second. A moment of blissful peace before it all came to an end.