A/N: Here it is, the epilogue. Rather long, and very fluffy...let me know what you think :)
As for Story 3 (thanks for reminding me Hope, I'd forgotten about that, lol.) I'm going to work on the plan a bit more so I don't mess up with the storyline. Plus, with HBP out in less than 12 hours (YAY) and a new Star Wars book out in 10 days, I'm gonna be a bit tied up. I will probably start posting at the start of August. Watch this space.
For now I'll say goodbye, thanks for reading (and especially reviewing!) and I hope you all enjoy HBP.
Epilogue – (or Mr Moony and the Undetectable Mistletoe Situation: Nargles and All.)
It had been 26 days since she had returned to him; the most wonderful days in Remus Lupin's life. And now he was sharing Christmas Day with a family. Remus never thought he'd see the day. He had two amazing and fast-growing children, the woman he loved by his side, two wild teenagers (who still insisted they were in his care)…and a houseful of redheads. What more could an old werewolf want.
"Remus, call you're dog off the table this instant!" Mrs Weasley's shrill voice broke the man from his reverie.
"Sorry Molly, she doesn't do it often. She's just a huge fan of your cooking…and aren't we all," he added.
"Smooth. Nice recovery," Ron mumbled under his breath to his old professor as he assisted the man in pushing the boisterous dog's front paws off the long wooden table.
"Suck up," Tonks coughed as she passed. Remus grinned at her and hooked an arm around the woman's waist, causing her to plop into his lap. Ron crinkled his nose and turned to talk to his twin brothers instead.
Harry entered dramatically, with a verse of God Rest Ye Merry Hippogriffs. Tonks had sung it the previous year, and Sirius before her. It was the Order family tradition.
"Is that the only Wizarding carol you know?" Hermione asked dryly, having heard it for the fifth time that day. Harry shrugged with a grin and plonked himself next to her.
"Well…yeah. But I have no doubt that it's the best…and I've just fed Beaky. It was meant to me Hermione, don't question it."
Hermione laughed and rolled her eyes at her friend's jovial behaviour.
Fred and George leapt up suddenly, causing the table to jolt. All eyes fell on them as they crossed to the dresser. When they returned, identical grins spread across their identical faces.
"Crackers!" they announced together. The room was stunned to silence.
"We know you are," Ginny spoke up wryly.
"No, these are Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes own: Crafty Christmas Crackers." Fred told her. "Sure to enlighten any Christmas Dinner." The twins held up the three festive items for all to see. Sure enough, a picture of Fred and/or George could be seen grinning impishly in a diamond pattern on the paper. Ginny rolled her eyes. Mr Weasley looked highly intrigued. As for the rest of the crowd… dubious summed them up.
"These are only prototypes," George explained. "So we can't pull them all. We're hoping to have them on the shelves in the shop come next Christmas…So, who's brave enough to give it ago?"
Silence fell. Harry raised his hand timidly, but Hermione pulled it down quickly. George and Fred looked crestfallen.
"Aw, no one?"
"Oh go on then, I will," Tonks resigned, rising from Remus' knee. The boys beamed at her.
"Anyone else?" Fred enquired.
"Why don't you two test them?" Ron said shortly. The twins looked at each other and then back at their little brother.
"Because, dearest Ronald, we are too beautiful to risk being …scorched or such like."
Ron looked highly unconvinced, and Tonks dropped her mouth indignantly.
"You really are a stunner Fred."
"Thank you, George. You too."
Their family chuckled at their daft behaviour. Arthur rose from his place and shook his head slightly.
"Come on then lads, let's do this."
Tonks offered the other end of the cracker to Arthur, who took a firm grip.
"Should I fear for my life?" Tonks asked lightly.
"Nah…fear for your eyebrows at the most," George assured her. Tonks looked confident, knowing that she could always morph them back. Arthur, on the other hand, swallowed hard.
"Perhaps we should clear a space," Hermione suggested, and they all moved cautiously to the other end of the kitchen.
Tonks and Mr Weasley faced each other. They nodded in unison and began to pull. The spectators immediately covered their ears and winced, expecting the worst. However, all that emitted from the cracker was a tiny squeak (that resembled a very small balloon being deflated) and a pathetic puff of grey smoke. Tonks and Arthur blinked at the halved cracker, looked to each other and then burst into a fit of laughter.
"That's it?" Tonks shrieked. "I risked my life, my eyebrows for that?" she howled.
Fred and George went a deep shade of red.
"Back to the drawing board, I think," Fred said, defeated.
Tonks tipped her end of the cracker and a sweet fell into her hand.
"Ooh, a Ton-Tongue Toffee," Harry exclaimed and snatched it from her. Tonks pouted. "Let's send it anonymously to Dudley," he said to Ron who nodded eagerly.
"Yeah, that oaf will never learn," the red-haired boy laughed heartily.
"You'll do no such thing," Mrs Weasley reprimanded them. Harry waited until she was out of hearing range before whispering.
"I heard that Harry Potter!" Molly called over her shoulder. Ron laughed as his best friend flushed.
Tonks crossed over to the stove to help Mrs Weasley. The elder woman was reluctant at first, but then gave Tonks the task of setting the cutlery on the table (after all, metal was less likely to break!)
Tonks skipped around the table with the forks, as Ginny followed with the knives, straightening Tonks' precariously placed cutlery as she went. As the pink haired witch squeezed past Lupin's chair, she felt his eyes on her.
"Professor Lupin, it's rude to stare," she sang, though her eyes remained on her task. Remus looked away quickly and Tonks gave a laugh. The man was so damn cute sometimes.
"Ha, Remus you're blushing," Harry quipped up. Remus shot him a glare and then grinned.
"Sweetheart, will you check on the twins for me?" Tonks asked as she grabbed a pile of spoons. Fred and George looked up.
"We're behaving!" they whined together indignantly. Remus gave a laugh.
"Not you two…though I'm glad to hear it," he added as he rose from his seat. Harry got up too, insisting on helping. Remus kissed Tonks gently on the cheek as he passed. Harry pursed his lips expectantly. Tonks rolled her eyes and kissed the boy on the forehead. Harry grinned and sprinted off after Lupin.
Tonks gave a content sigh as she watched them go. This was going to be the best Christmas ever, she could tell. Realising that Ginny had caught up with her around the table, Tonks began to shuffle around again. She noticed that Ginny was flipping the spoons over as she placed the goblets onto the table.
"Ginny-bean, if I was doing it wrong then you should have said," the woman laughed.
"But it's much more fun this way," Ginny insisted, beaming up at her friend. Tonks squeezed her arm affectionately, and then scrunched her face up to let long red hair fall to her shoulders. Ginny's grin widened.
"Merry Christmas everybody," came a call from the top of the stairs. Mrs Weasley gave a cry of delight as her two oldest sons descended the stairs to join their family.
"We weren't expecting you," she said, sounding thoroughly pleased to see them. She pulled them both into an embrace, having to stand on her tiptoes to do so as they were both so tall.
"Hope there's enough food," Bill said, rubbing his hands together much like his father would do. He ruffled Tonks' hair as he passed. "Nice to see you T."
Tonks was left standing with Charlie. The man ran a hand over the back of his neck and rocked slightly on his heels.
"Hi Charlie," she ventured. "How are you?"
"Good, thanks. You?"
"Yeah not bad," she replied politely.
"Well you look great," he mumbled and Tonks smiled slightly.
Harry entered with Jake in his arms, breaking the uncomfortable moment.
"Look who is awake everyone," he called and the group began to coo in delight. Ginny left the table unfinished and met Harry at the bottom of the stair to take the baby boy from him.
"You're so adorable," she pouted sweetly.
"Why thank you," Harry said proudly and Ginny pushed him gently.
Lupin arrived with Tilly-Fay. He spotted Tonks talking to Charlie, and immediately chided himself for the sudden surge of jealousy that coursed through him. She was his Dora, he reminded himself. She loved him, and only him…he hoped.
"Someone looks grumpy," Tonks said as she took the squirming Tilly from Remus.
"I'm fine actually," he muttered, before giving Charlie a strained smile and crossing the room to talk to Hermione.
"I meant Tilly," she called after him. Men, Tonks thought. Can't live with them…can't live with them!
"Well she's a stunner," Charlie observed. Tilly folded her little fingers around the man's own finger. He smiled.
"Gonna be a heartbreaker this one, I can tell." Charlie gave a smile. "Just like her mother," he added quietly. Tonks' smile faded to one of pity.
"Hey, I'm kidding! I'm really happy for you. They're both so beautiful. And Remus makes you happy?" he asked. Tonks nodded.
"Then I'm happy. Don't feel sorry for me Dora. Enjoy what you have. He's a very lucky wizard, you know that?"
"I know," Tonks smiled, seeing the sincerity in her former lover's eyes. "Thank you Charlie." She kissed him on the cheek.
"You're very welcome," he replied.
Tilly began to squirm again in her mother's arms, and then began to wail. All eyes turned to her and Tonks winced.
"Shh, baby. Come on now, you know how Uncle Harry like to be the centre of everyone's attention," she soothed.
"Hey!" Harry exclaimed from across the room, though he laughed with everyone else.
Lupin crossed to his crying child.
"You got her?"
"Yeah, give her a minute," Tonks replied, bobbing the little girl slightly. The child eventually quietened down, though was still whimpering. Tonks looked up to Charlie.
"You want to hold her?" she asked and Charlie looked stunned.
"Um, no that's fine I–"
"Go on," Tonks insisted, holding out the child. Charlie hesitated, and looked to Lupin who gave a little nod.
Charlie took the baby carefully. Tonks grinned at the worried look on his face. She wrapped an arm around Lupin's waist and rested her head against his shoulder.
"You're a natural Chas," she told the man. Charlie smiled down at the little girl. "She seems to have warmed to you."
"Of course she has," Charlie whispered as Tilly's eyelids began to fall heavy. "Ok, you can take her now," he said quickly, worried that she'd wake at any second and start bawling again. Remus took her from the man.
"Come on little miss, let's go see Nana Molly."
The family soon settled down to Christmas dinner. Everyone was chatting merrily, it was so easy to forget that a war was going on. For now, they would just enjoy each other's company.
"Pass 'tates," Ron garbled to Hermione with a mouthful of food. She blinked at him in revulsion.
"I'm sorry Ronald, I didn't quite catch that."
Ron swallowed. "Pass the potatoes," he said slowly, emphasising each word. "Please," he added feverishly as Hermione sent him a glare.
The group knew that it was only a matter of time before someone mentioned one of the forbidden subjects: Percy, Voldemort or Andromeda.
"So…have you heard from your Mum, Tonks?" Bill asked mildly. The kitchen fell quiet, and the clinking of cutlery against china stopped instantly. "I was just curious, that's all," Bill muttered as he took another bite of his turkey.
"I have actually. She sent me something…I sent it back. I didn't even open it. I can't be doing with her."
There was an uncomfortable silence.
"That answer your question?" Ron asked loudly, embarrassed by his eldest brother's lack of subtlety. Bill nodded but said nothing. The kitchen remained hushed for a moment longer, until the Weasley twins bubbled up an animated conversation. Tonks was relieved by it, not wanting to think on her mother any longer.
When the meal was over, Molly, Ginny and Hermione cleared up. Tonks was told that she must feed the twins rather than help. She resigned, knowing that Mrs Weasley was right.
Tonks and Harry chatted as they fed the twins from bottles together. Harry had become an expert at baby feeding, though burping was still something he avoided. Tonks noticed that Ron, Fred and George were staring at her intently.
"What? Oh come on guys, you honestly think I'm gonna get my boobs out in front of all of you?"
Harry's eyebrows shot up. The three Weasley lads shrugged, not seeing a problem with it.
"Yeah, and let's not forget I don't have…boobs," Harry pointed out. Ron snickered at him.
Hermione grabbed a plate from in front of Ron.
"Oh honestly boys," she sighed, turning away from her best friends in disgust.
Once the kitchen was cleared, and the babies were settled back down upstairs, the group dispersed. Ginny and Hermione had disappeared from the room, as had Fred and George. Charlie and Bill had gone back to the Burrow with their father. Ron and Harry were playing an intent game of Wizard's Chess, and Molly had dozed off in the chair by the stove.
Tonks was talking to Remus, who had chosen to stare at her in a besotted daze rather than focus on what she was saying. She gave a huff and his glazed eyes focussed once more.
"You're not listening to a word I'm saying."
"I am…it's very fascinating."
"What is?" Tonks asked sceptically, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Um…whatever it was you were talking about."
Tonks gave a growl. "Remus!"
"I'm sorry, I was thinking."
He couldn't exactly blurt out; You! Well, why not? It's best to be honest.
"I was thinking how beautiful you looked," he said ignoring the retching sounds Harry and Ron were making behind him. Tonks' face softened.
"Aw, that's so sweet." She kissed his cheek and carried on talking.
Ok, I really must listen this time! God, her lips are just so perfect. Carry on talking, lips. I'll just sit here and watch.
"Remus!" she growled again.
"What I'm watching…I mean listening!" he corrected hurriedly.
"Fine you know what, as beautiful as I am, I'm fed up of being gawped at. You can talk and I'll pretend to listen, ok?" She slumped back in her seat and waved a hand at him lazily. "You may proceed."
Remus was staring out of shock this time. He pulled himself together and cleared his throat.
"Beware the Nargles," he said simply. Harry and Ron howled with laugher. Tonks frowned. Ha, that had caught her attention.
"What are Nargles?"
What were Nargles, come to think of it? Harry had told him that Luna said they lived in…mistletoe! Perfect!
"Nasty little blighters that live in mistletoe," he told her. Tonks scoffed.
"I'll be careful," she said dryly. Remus nodded.
"You should. In fact you should probably change seats, they might fall on you."
Tonks instinctively looked up, displaying her long, smooth neck. It took Remus all his self-control not to kiss it there and then. He licked his lips in temptation.
"Remus, there's nothing there," she laughed, looking back to him. Lupin nodded insistently, his face set in mock-seriousness.
"I assure you there is. Look closer Dora."
"I can't see–"
"You're not looking hard enough."
Tonks was squinting to the ceiling now, knowing full well he was having her on.
"I can see them from my seat," he told her. "You might have to lean a bit closer…a little further…a bit more."
Tonks grinned as her lips fell on his. Harry and Ron gave groans of protest but the couple chose to ignore them.
"Can you see them yet?" Lupin whispered, as they broke apart. Tonks shook her head slightly. "Well it doesn't matter anymore, I got what I wanted." He rose with a cheeky grin and crossed to the kettle. Tonks let out another sigh.
At that moment, Ginny came pelting down the stairs, her face pink and wet.
"It's snowing," she squealed. Ron turned to her.
"Wha–" he began but Ginny silenced his enquiry with a hand full of snow.
"Argh!" Ron let out a cry and knocked the chess set flying. Molly woke instantly.
"Ginevra Weasley, you are not to bring that in the house!" she cried, but Ginny wasn't listening, she was attempting to lose her brother as he bolted up the stairs after her. Tonks and Remus laughed.
"Can I go play too?" Harry asked them.
"Of course you can," Remus told him and the boy ran off after his best friend.
"Can I go play? Can I, can I?" Tonks asked Remus playfully.
"Alright, but don't make yourself ill. Wrap up warm."
Tonks pouted. "You're coming out too, right?"
Remus shook his head. Tonks stuck out her bottom lip and left to find her winter coat.
She came back half an hour later, her fingers frozen to the bone but a grin plastered on her face. She laid one bent arm across Remus' back as he continued to chat to Molly. Tonks rested her chin on his shoulder so they were cheek to cheek.
"You're cold!" Remus exclaimed. Tonks gave a giggle.
"Snow's cold," she said simply and grabbed at his collar, shoving a fist full of snow down his back. He shot up in an instant.
"Right, you've asked for it," he growled as she let off a shriek and scarpered out the room. Remus ran after her and outside in his cold.
"Remus, you have no shoes on," Tonks protested, really thinking of her own safety. The man did not back down. He gained on her easily and pulled her to the snow-covered floor. The teenagers had stopped their snowball fight to watch their former professor's wrestle in the snow. Tonks was screaming, though it was staggered with giggles. Remus pinned her down and began to bury her, putting the ice-cold matter onto the bare belly that peeked from her coat.
"REMUS NO!" Tonks laughed. She managed to push herself up from the ground and scoop a load of snow into her arms. She aimed for his face but the wind blew it back onto herself. The witch let out a wail of distress as Remus chuckled.
Molly stood watching at the top of the stone steps. She ducked slightly as a snowball flew in her direction and hit the house with a thud.
"Sorry Mum!" one of her own called and she smiled fondly, deciding that maybe it was best if she went in and made a large batch of hot chocolate.
Tonks was now chasing Remus around the courtyard. The man was slipping without shoes. She gave a jump and landed on his back. The pair collapsed into a heap, laughing.
"Ok, ok, I give in, I'm sorry," the man breathed. Tonks nuzzled her cold nose against him. The coatless and shoeless man began to shiver. Snowflakes were landing in his greying hair and eyelashes, causing him to blink.
"I love you," Tonks whispered softly.
"I love you too," he replied. She kissed him, and her lips were warm against his. Remus tingled all over, but it wasn't from the cold.
"Merry Christmas, Professor Lupin," she purred and he grinned. Suddenly, Harry's bellow caused them to break from their moment
An array of snowballs flew through the air and landed with a thump on the pair. They let out cries of annoyance and scrambled up.
The family played outside in the cold until in became dark and Molly called them in, wrapping them in warm fluffy towels and serving mugs of steaming hot chocolate.
The gang made their way slowly to bed. Tonks snuggled up to Remus, still insisting that she was cold. She felt fine to him, though he was hardly going to complain. Beside him lay the woman he loved, and she loved him too. She was bold and bright, and awful to have on your team in a snowball fight, but he loved her so much for it. Remus held her close and planted a soft kiss on her forehead. Tonks gave a sleepy smile.
"Sleep well sweetheart," he whispered.
"Mind the Nargles don't bite," Tonks replied. Remus chuckled and reached over to extinguish the light.
Yes, this had been the best Christmas of his life…and he was hoping for many more to come.