Summary: Lupin and Tonks' encounters with Death Eaters, vorpal bunnies, and rampaging goats.

Nymphadora's Wolf
Mate for Life

Hogwarts
Late June

Minerva McGonagall dismissed the members of the Order of the Phoenix to gain their assigned corridors. It was their duty to monitor Hogwarts this evening while Dumbledore was gone. There was something in the air tonight and all could feel the urgency. Bill waved a farewell as he took his path, leaving Lupin and Tonks to walk together a little further.

"I didn't think I'd see you here, Tonks. I thought Scrimgeour had made good on his pulling back the Auror patrols at Hogwarts due to budgetary constraints."

"He has, so now I'm the only Auror left here. It took a bit of persuasion, but with the term almost over, I didn't want to abandon Hogwarts until the students go home for summer holiday. Actually, I'm surprised Dumbledore asked you to come tonight, Remus. Doesn't this duty interfere with your current assignment?"

"The Headmaster indicated that my mission among the werewolves is coming to an end, although I think that's a mistake. I'm sure the Death Eaters are planning something. I've followed Greyback twice to Borgin and Burke's where he met others."

"Was Bellatrix among them?"

"No, I haven't seen any sign of your aunt, but I recognized Amycus and Alecto, they're siblings, and Gibbons, a rather impatient man who considers himself Voldemort's herald."

"Gibbons? Yes, Mad-eye mentioned a Death Eater who likes to call the Dark Mark prematurely, even helped him nab a few culprits before the evil deed was done."

"Yes, that's the one."

"So, what's next for you, Remus?"

"I--don't know yet, Nymphadora."

"And now is not the time for such discussions, I know. We better see to our patrol."

Remus watched her turn sharply and walk down her assigned corridor. For a moment, as the moonlight shone through the stained glass window when she walked past, he could see the young pink-haired girl he had first met. As her steps took her out of contact with the rosy moonbeam, he realized the nymph was gone and in her place, an enchantress had emerged.

- - - - - - - - - - -

The battle was waging in the corridors of Hogwarts. Tonks shuddered as she saw the killing curse barely miss Lupin. She caught his gaze for a moment and he was able to offer her a reassuring nod. Then when the battle ended, Tonks and Lupin ran to where Bill Weasley had fallen. Tonks couldn't hide the horror she felt at seeing her friend so mutilated.

"There's blood everywhere, Remus. I can staunch it, but his breathing is so shallow. He won't survive the trip to Pomfrey."

"He doesn't look as bad as Arthur after the snake bite, but there's only one way to stabilize him."

"Another early debt to Lyonesse? You remember what happened this year."

"Yes, I had a good friend watching over me to keep me from hurting anyone when the spirits took over. I expect she'll do the same at the next equinox."

"I rather enjoy meeting the Scholar. All right, but I'm only transferring the minimum."

Tonks called forth the spell that would convey the protection of Lupin's bloodline to Bill, but controlled the transfer when some color returned to wounded man. Lupin leaned against Tonks as she summoned the spell to carry Bill's body to Pomfrey. In the meantime, McGonagall was seeing to Neville and removing the body of Gibbons, the Death Eater caught in the killing curse. The Battle of Hogwarts was over, but the soldiers had yet to learn of the full cost.

- - - - - - - -

Hogwarts' Infirmary

Tonks and Lupin kept watch over their unconscious friend as he lay on the hospital bed. The worry was clearly on their faces. Lupin's voice held a controlled rage as he began speaking.

"We've got to stop Greyback from doing this to anyone else. He wasn't even transformed, but Bill's wounds are acting like cursed bites. He won't become a werewolf, but he won't be the same, he won't be--normal."

"Molly is going to be heartbroken and Fleur--

"Oh Merlin! Bill was marrying her next month. He's lost so much in a single night."

"Fleur is not a fickle female, Remus. She won't abandon Bill, even if he is a mutilated man."

"Alliterative, aren't we?"

"Cynical, aren't we?"

"I call it being realistic, Tonks."

"Don't lose your faith in love, Remus. I think Fleur will surprise you."

"We'll have to wait and see. I just wish Dumbledore were here; I hope he's not gone much longer."

But Lupin discovered that his wish would not be fulfilled. Tonks noted the anguish with which Lupin accepted the news of Dumbledore's death and how he sat with dejected posture. She moved to stand by his chair and reached out to him, not just to offer comfort, but because he was always her anchor.

The only thing that kept Lupin from breaking down further was that firm touch on his shoulder reminding him that he was not alone. He was able to follow what Harry was saying and he felt Tonks tighten her grip when Snape was revealed as the traitor. A flash of hatred toward the man filled him, but when the phoenix began his lament, Lupin was able to find solace in the beauty of the song.

Soon Molly and Fleur appeared. Lupin responded to the light tug Tonks gave to his sleeve and they moved to give the women access to Bill. They watched the drama between Fleur and Molly unfold. Anything was preferable to dwelling on the loss of Dumbledore.

Tonks prayed that she had not misplaced her faith in the power of love. Relief flooded her when Fleur insisted that she still intended to marry Bill. It took Tonks a moment to realize that she had met Lupin's challenge. Here was a woman who was accepting a life with a man bitten by Greyback.

Tonks lost sight of anyone else in the room except for Lupin and turned to him glaring. She insisted, "You see! She still wants to marry him even though he's been bitten. She doesn't care!"

"It's different." Lupin was confused by Fleur's acceptance of Bill and knew his words lacked conviction. He tried to grasp at any argument. "Bill will not be a full werewolf. The cases are completely--"

"But I don't care, either! I don't care," insisted Tonks. The stubborn man! She grabbed his robes and wished she could morph to Hagrid's size so that she could shake some sense into him. "I've told you a million times..."

"And I've told you a million times that," began Lupin, but couldn't meet her eyes. He knew he would see the love and hope shining there and he would be lost. He called upon his mantra automatically while he tried to regain some control. "I'm too old for you, too poor...too dangerous..."

He heard Molly chiding him for being ridiculous, but managed to insist that Tonks deserved someone young and whole. Then Arthur reminded him that Bill had lost such status in a single night. Lupin felt more of the walls crumbling inside of him.

"This is...not the moment to discuss it." Lupin was flooded with his conflicting emotions. The joy he was feeling as he considered a future with Tonks was at odds with the grief of losing the Headmaster. "Dumbledore is dead."

"Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think there was a little more love in the world," reminded McGonagall.

Lupin then realized that Tonks was firmly holding his hand. As Hagrid arrived, she tiptoed to whisper, "I'll never stop waiting for you, Remus, remember that."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

At Scrimgeour's directive, Tonks spent the rest of the night interviewing all parties who were conscious for the official report. The man had also insisted that her written report be on his desk before daybreak. The Auror assumed her professional mask and fulfilled her tasks. She went back to the Ministry to complete her assignment, but was constantly interrupted. The floo network at the Ministry building was a flurry of activity as people made the trip to verify the rumor: Albus Dumbledore is dead.

Tonks finally escaped to the Department of Mysteries to finish her report. Once there, she approached the Veil that had taken her cousin and sat down on the floor with her arms wrapped around her knees. As she relayed the details of the night to a Quick-Quotes Quill, she instead imagined that Sirius was on the other side listening to the events. When the report was finished, she deactivated the quill, but made a solemn promise to Sirius that Harry would live. Then she sent her Patronus with a message to Lupin before taking the floo back to Hogsmeade.

In the meantime, Lupin spent the rest of his night notifying the Order of their great loss. His first stop was at the Hog's Head to inform Aberforth Dumbledore that his twin was dead. But Aberforth had intercepted him almost immediately, having recognized the phoenix' lament. Together they had set about passing the news, but it was Lupin who answered the questions of How did it happen and Who was the killer.

Lupin repeated the events of the night often, all the while maintaining his composure so that he could be strong as his comrades dealt with their grief. Arabella Figg began weeping and didn't even object as Mundungus Fletcher patted her back in a weak attempt to offer comfort. He had never seen Alastor Moody cry, but there was no denying the quiet tears that were streaming down his face. He and Aberforth had to physically restrain the normally cool Kingsley Shacklebolt from beginning a hunt for Snape, with Fred and George Weasley ready to follow his lead. The Order could afford no more losses.

By the time the night ended, Lupin was exhausted, but the silvery wolf found him with Tonks' message. That was one rendezvous he intended to make. While the dawn was still creeping above the tree tops of the Forbidden Forest, Lupin came upon the wood nymph once again resting on the large boulder at its edge, sitting completely still.

Tonks looked up at him, then stood with her arms raised both to beseech and to accept his embrace. His long stride brought him to her immediately, but they exchanged no greetings. Instead, they shared their grief over the Headmaster's death as their emotional control finally broke. They fell to their knees and clung to each other, weeping like children, each knowing that together they were strong enough to bear this new loss. Each one silently thankful that their tears were not for each other.

When their tears were exhausted, they found themselves still wrapped in each other's arms while sitting against the bolder as the sun was now warm on their bodies. Lupin felt Tonks' leaning against his chest and allowed his head to fall on her soft hair as they both succumbed to sleep.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hogwarts
The Forbidden Forest

snerf, snerf

Lupin opened one eye only to meet another eye staring at him from a face with a twitching pink nose. A white ball of fluff was perched on his shoulder.

snerf, snerf

This time the vorpal bunny had snorted right into his ear and the noise was loud enough to get Tonks stirring. She opened her eyes to find the vorpal bunny dangling in the air, taking empty swipes at Lupin who was holding him by scruff of his neck.

snerf, snerf

"Wimples! Oh, how wonderful, Remus."

"What did you say? I can't hear since he snorted in my ear."

"Here, let me hug him."

Snift, snift

"Serves you right. Ahem, Tonks, ease up on the hug. Wimples looks like he needs to breathe."

"Oh, right. Sorry, Wimples, but it was sweet of you to come after such sad events. Here you go, back on the ground."

Snerf, snerf

"Hm. Tonks, doesn't Wimples look more arrogant than usual,. If a rabbit could swagger, I'd say he's doing it."

Snerf, snerf

"Wimples has always been a proud specimen, Remus. You're just being sensitive to this alpha male conflict between the two of you."

"Really, there is no contest between us. How could a were-rabbit best a werewolf. He's just a vorpal--Oh, Merlin, is that what I think it is?"

Snerf, snerf. Hop. Hop, hop, hop.

"Look, Remus, Wimples has a little girlfriend! Isn't she pretty with her brown fur? Wimples, you devil!"

"This cannot be happening. Normal does won't accept a buck who's a were-rabbit. Where did he find her?"

"Her name is Whimsy, Remus, and obviously he found her in the Forbidden Forest. And I do think Wimples has one-upped you."

"Hardly. You and I were together before Wimples found, er, Whimsy."

"I was referring to the little pair of ears I see coming out of the hole. Look there."

Indeed, a little kit that was a clone of his father followed his mother out of the hole,. The little white furball hopped over to Lupin and emitted a quick snerf before diving behind his parents. Wimples did indeed look rather like he had won the race and seemed to be smirking at Lupin before herding his family off into the Forbidden Forest. With a last arrogant wiggle of his tail, they were gone.

"He'll outlive her by decades, won't he?" sighed Tonks.

"Wimples gave up some of his longevity in exchange for Whimsy's fertility--or at least that's what happened in the few recorded cases. The pregnancy changed her from a mundane rabbit to some sort of hybrid. No, the mating is for life--and in that Wimples and I have common ground."

"Remus? Are you--augh!"

"Ow! Why did you punch my shoulder?"

"Because you are the most frustrating man! You're lucky I didn't, I didn't--"

"Hit me with a bludger?"

"No."

"Levitate this rock to fall on me?"

"No, I should have--" Tonks halted her words as an owl suddenly swooped down to drop a missive into her hands. "Oh, what is it now! Wait, don't leave, Remus. I have to answer this summons. Let's see... interview W. Weasley and N. Longbottom and report to Ministry." sigh "I need to get back to work."

"And I need to visit the League and run a few other errands. I owled Rafe earlier, but I still have things to wrap up."

"Looks like we'll never find a good time to talk."

"Then we should make the time. We shouldn't let this drag on any longer. Meet me at Wolf Rock tonight. I'll be there by seven."

"Promise?"

"I promise."

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Wolf Rock Lighthouse

"He's late. He said seven o'clock, I'm sure of it. It's now eight and he's late, late, LATE. He's changed his mind--or maybe he never changed it. Maybe he wanted me here to tell me in private that he wants nothing to do with me. I'm not a metamorphmagus anymore, so why would he want a clumsy, mousy, red-eyed witch?"

creak, slam, splish, splish, drip, drip

"Remus! Why are you so late--and wet? Here, let me help you get that coat off. What did you do, swim to Wolf Rock?"

"No, I used the skiff, but Mad-Eye intercepted me at Land's End and I got too distracted getting away from him to call impervious until it was too late."

wrings shirt, drip, drip, drip

"Why were you getting away from Mad-Eye?"

"Because he got it into his head that he needed to teach me a lesson about how to treat a lady, one he holds as closely to his heart as any daughter, he said, even if she was a cheeky witch during her training."

giggle "Oh, I see. He found out about, er, us. So that's why you're late?"

"Not entirely. Ugh, I hate squeaky, water-logged shoes. No, I was detained just trying to get out of Hogsmeade. Aberforth waylaid me just before I took the floo to Land's End."

"Order business? Here, just put this robe on."

"Thank you. And, no, it wasn't Order business. Oh, and don't believe the rumors that he's illiterate. Apparently Aberforth has made a list of what he labeled 'My Big Brother's Clean-up List.' Among them, and I know this because he pointed it out to me, was 'Knock some sense into stubborn wolf regarding the little witch.' He decided to pursue this literally."

"What? You mean he, he punched you?"

"No, he sent the little herd of goats he has penned at the back of the Hog's Head after me. Ever been butted by a rampaging goat? Hard-headed little buggers, but I managed to immobilize them and slip into the floo."

"Whew, that's quite a good reason for being late. Here, sit down and let me rub your shoulders. Your muscles feel so tense."

"Oh, that would be Hagrid's doing and the reason I was late getting out of Hogwarts in the first place."

"Hagrid? What did he do to you? He's as gentle as a lamb."

"He's still a giant and apparently is quite sentimental about 'lurv's true path'. He managed to dangle me off the ground in order to shake some sense into me about this issue. I was practically yelling that I was on my way to meet you before he would release me."

"Hagrid just doesn't know his own strength. Hold on, what's that scratch on your ankle? Did Fang do that?"

"That? No, it was not a dog, but a cat who scratched me as I was leaving the castle."

"A cat scratched you? Mrs. Norris can be so mean!"

"It wasn't Mrs. Norris, Tonks."

"Surely it wasn't Crookshanks?"

"No, it wasn't Crookshanks."

"But the only other cat at the castle would be--McGonagall? McGonagall took a swipe at you?"

"Practically tripped over her as I was heading out the door before she took a quick swipe at me with her paw. She immediately transformed, told me I should quit acting like a lunk head about you, and to not make the same mistakes that befell my elders. I felt like a First Year standing there going, 'Yes, Ma'am,' and 'No, Ma'am,' and, 'I appreciate your advice, Ma'am.' She's scarier than a horde of Inferi when she's in a tiff."

"So what were you doing at Hogwarts? I thought you were going to speak to Rafe and the others in your League?"

"I spent the day getting things in order for them, then decided to check up on Bill for myself. I was sort of hoping to run into you then, but you'd already left. It just took a while to unravel the binding spell."

"Binding spell? What binding spell? Wait. She didn't, did she? Fleur?"

"Indeed, she's quite proficient at evincio. I had just finished having a nice chat with Bill in the infirmary when a furious Fleur flounces in--"

"Alliterative, aren't we? Caught you by surprise?"

"One normally doesn't expect such a genteel witch to hit you with a spell at first sight. So there's Fleur carrying on about how seeing you with me during Harry's fifth year made her re-think her attitudes about werewolves which meant that she didn't hesitate about accepting Bill now that Greyback had bitten him. Thank goodness Bill is a smooth talker because otherwise I'd still be bound in the infirmary until you came to collect me."

"Oh, you poor man! And I thought Molly and Arthur had ganged up on you last night. So, you're here now because everyone has been bullying you into settling this."

"Why are you looking so sad, Tonks? Have you changed your mind?"

"What? Of course I haven't changed my mind about you. I just don't want you to be with me because you think it will please everyone around us."

"Nymphadora, much as I like being liked, I invited you here before any of my encounters with the Wayward Werewolf hit squad. Why do you think I asked you to come to Wolf Rock?"

"I want to hear you tell me your reasons, Remus."

"I love you, Nymphadora Tonks. I realized that I can't face this life without you. It was your touch that gave me hope when I learned that Albus was dead. I've lost so much: my parents, my closest friends, my mentor. And there you were, offering the one light that I want constantly in my life."

"Remus! I--" Lupin almost fell backwards out of the chair as Tonks lunged but caught himself in time to accept her kiss. When she released him she suddenly punched his shoulder again.

"Ow!"

"You mean that I didn't have to make a fool of myself by declaring to everyone in the hospital wing that I didn't care about your curse and still wanted to marry you!"

"No, it wasn't foolish. Your outburst gave me the courage to act on that hope. Every time I started to backtrack today, I'd think about you standing there, glaring at me, beautiful in your conviction that you wanted to be with me."

Here Remus reached out and placed one hand on Tonks' shoulder while he cupped her face with the other. "Stay with me at Wolf Rock, Nymphadora, live with me, marry me."

She stared at him with wide eyes as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing, but as his words finally resonated in her, she smiled and whispered, "Yes."

Remus bent his head to kiss her tenderly and as his hand swept through her hair, the strands changed slowly from the brown to a vibrant pink. When he pulled back, he gently touched the strands of her hair, bringing the tip within view of her peripheral vision.

"That's my hair? But--"

Tonks ran to a mirror and stared in wonder. She heard Remus' voice behind her calling out colors.

"Blue. Black. Blonde. Red. Violet. Brown. Pink."

With each word Tonks changed her hair color and began laughing in delight. She felt Remus put his hands on her shoulders and saw his smiling reflection in the mirror. "Let's try noses next. Mad-Eye. King. Fleur. Me."

His laughter rang with hers as she turned to face him with his aqualine nose in place before she morphed back into her normal face. "I can do it. I'm still a metamorphmagus."

"You should make sure your hair is pink for the funeral. No flower would be more beautiful to Dumbledore's eyes. He'd be happy to see you had regained your powers."

"I think you're right. He always called me a fairy floss torpedo when I was at Hogwarts." Her voice grew softer as she leaned in to hug Remus. "We've lost so much with his death, but as long as you're with me, I can have some hope that this war will turn to our favor. Harry has a tough road ahead."

"And we'll stand by him together, but in the meantime, we better get some rest."

"Professor Lupin, are you trying to get me into your bedroom? Whoa!"

Remus had swept Tonks off her feet and began walking. "Absolutely. And I want you to know that I'm never letting you go again."

"I'll hold you to that promise, Remus."

And so that's the story of how Remus Lupin became Nymphadora's Wolf.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Epilogue

The long body of the man curled up around the small woman with pink hair. Even with all the losses he had been dealt, he felt whole. He dropped a kiss on her neck, lingering to nibble on her ear.

"Mmm. That feels--Oh! Remus! She kicked! Here, feel her!" Tonks placed Remus' hand over her belly and then chided her shy daughter. "Come on, pumpkin, kick for Dad."

"I don't feel anything. Are you sure?"

"Of course. I can practically hear her kicks."

"Hm, let me put my ear closer."

kick

"Ah! Ow, my eardrum. I felt it, though. I felt her! We have to go visit the Forbidden Forest."

"Remus, I think Wimples will be more impressed when we have a baby who can crawl."

"You think so? Right, we'll have to train Amelia to grab his tail."

"Remus! You know this rivalry between you and Wimples should be put to rest now that you're both fathers. The world is at peace, remember?"

"Hmph. We'll see about that." He tucked her head under his chin and closed his eyes. "You remember how the war ended?"

"I was impersonating Ginny Weasley, but I'd made the switch with her so quickly that no one knew. Harry came after Voldemort to get her back."

"And then Harry realized his scar was a Horcrux, created by Dumbledore when Lily was killed. He's the only one who could have done it, Tonks; Dumbledore had to have been at Godric's Hollow."

"So Harry carried a Horcrux all his life until he splinched it free. I've never thought of a practical use for apparation errors. Harry destroyed the scar, but barely had any energy left to defend himself. Then Snape showed up."

"And Harry didn't have to kill Voldemort because Snape beat him to it, although it cost Severus his life."

"Remus, Harry said the oddest thing when he stood over Snape's body. I remember him whispering something about farewell to the Half-blood Prince, but he said it almost reverently, not out of spite."

"I find it ironic that Severus finally got the recognition he desired but for the wrong reasons. He will only be known as a murderer."

"Severus Snape killed the two most powerful wizards of his age, Remus."

"I've wondered whether Dumbledore was a mercy killing. Harry just couldn't reveal the details about the potion Albus drank until after the war. And I don't think Severus killed Voldemort in a power struggle over the Death Eaters. I think he did it to protect Harry Potter."

"You've always been ready to believe the best in people, Remus, but in this case, I hope you're right. Snape made a lot of poor choices in his life. It would be nice to think he finally made a good choice when it ended."

Remus murmured his agreement and embraced his wife. They could sleep in peace and look forward to the future.

The End

Author Note:

Minor edits.

The whole chapter covers the 24 hours around Dumbledore's death. I wanted to provide a reason for Tonks being the only Auror present at the battle at Hogwarts, so made up the story about the others being pulled away due to bureaucracy. With Lupin's assignment to the werewolves, I thought it reasonable that he have some inkling of things afoot with Greyback.

Of course, since I had Lupin help save Arthur and Tonks, I felt it would be out of character to avoid helping Bill, even with the bad experience at equinox with his ancestral spirits, so I added that aspect.

While I avoid duplicating dialogue and scenes from the book, I really felt I had no choice in this case, although I wrote in Lupin's perspective. I left open any claim on Death Eaters captured as there is some debate on this and only focused on the one killed.

It was difficult to write the aftermath of Dumbledore's death, but in such cases, there are people who have to put aside their grief as they take care of details surrounding the death. The responses of the Order members were clear images in my mind, as was the little scene where Tonks is dictating to the quill while feeling as if she's talking to Sirius behind the Veil.

I promised you'd see Wimples one last time and as you can see, he and Lupin still maintain a lifelong rivalry. Although Wimples beat Lupin to the punch on first offspring, Lupin and Tonks will have not only a daughter, but twin boys.

I also had to have some fun with Lupin encountering the Wayward Werewolf hit squad, so that was purely for amusement. Didn't it just want to make you give him a hug? But I loved the image of Tonks' hair color changing as his hand touches her hair.

The epilogue provides my predictions for Book 7 and I'm sure most are completely wrong. I will not write any more stories for Lupin and Tonks, so that's the last word I'll have to say on it. I'll leave all stories up at least until Movie 7 is released, although I'm sure the books and movies will make my characterizations of Lupin and Tonks become dated.

Thank you, all readers, and a special thanks to those who have left comments on the stories. It has been very heartwarming to read all the positive comments on these tales. The best reward for sharing the stories is knowing that others are left smiling. Thanks again and take care.