Written to help me cope with the sudden and seemingly unnecessary deaths of Remus and Tonks. If they had to die, I wanted to see them going out in a blaze of glory, and especially I wanted to see Remus and Tonks together in the afterlife. So, I've done a bit of both, and hopefully with some degree of realism. Writing this has actually been very therapeutic for me, and may later be part of one of my WIPs. (Which I guess makes the title a bit ironic, since I fully plan for there to be a lot more of Remus and Tonks!) For now, I hope it might help some of you R/T fans who felt a bit cheated by the end of their story.
You're such a bloody fool, Tonks! Her inner voice pitched discordant against the screaming stitch in her side and the searing ache in her abdominal muscles and thighs as she raced (if her post-partum waddle even qualified as racing) through the corridors of the castle to the Great Hall, attempting to dodge duels and debris with some degree of dexterity.
Stupid, stupid fool! You just had a baby! Remus was right, for once, to leave you behind, with Teddy, and your mum. You'll only get yourself killed, and Remus may already be-- NO!
This was Remus she was dealing with. Remus, who hadn't taken a scratch from another person since he was five years old, who'd come out of the Department of Mysteries battle unscathed, who'd lived for a year among feral werewolves and come out whole in body, if crushed in spirit.
Keep the faith, Tonks, hold yourself together! Just because Aberforth didn't see how his duel with Dolohov turned out-- Oh, thank Merlin!
Oh, thank Merlin!
There, at the top of the Hall, where the teachers' table usually stood proudly on its dais, Remus was still duelling fiercely with Dolohov! Not that it was a good thing it was still going on. In fact, it was a very bad thing, and snatched the temporary relief she'd felt at seeing him still alive; Remus normally dispatched combatants before most duellists got warmed up, and he'd faced Dolohov before. His wand arm, she noticed as she got nearer, moved sluggishly, though not at all sloppily, as he fired off offensive spells; his footwork, usually so light and effortless, appeared heavy, one step behind.
He's got as little sleep as you since Teddy was born. Maybe even less. Always getting up with you for feedings, taking over nighttime nappy duty, watching the tiny baby's wispy hair change colour in his sleep, his face a wash of wonder and fear that their miracle is only a dream, and will disappear...
Tonks willed her own protesting legs to speed up, to keep going even though her boots felt like they'd been transfigured from leather to lead and kept tripping her up over fallen people...dead people...
Because Remus needed her. He'd just barely cast a Shield Charm before that last curse hit him. Every second the duel dragged on made it more likely that Teddy would grow up with no memory of his father. She couldn't let that happen. Remus was too good a man, too good a father already in just a few short, sweet days, had worried too much during her pregnancy for all that to go to waste.
He's always watchful, always wakeful. Has he really rested at all since the wedding?
Has he really rested at all since the wedding?
They'd had so little time--
"Protego!" She flung out her wand just as a flash of red light spiralled toward her head -- whether a spell cast at her, or one that had merely gone awry from another duel, she didn't stop to check.
A sidelong glance revealed a girl with pigtails tied with Hufflepuff yellow ribbons, outmatched by a hulking Death Eater bearing down on her. As an Auror, it sickened her that kids who were barely of age, not yet out of school, certainly not in possession of her level of expertise, could be fighting Dark Wizards. Tripping over her own two feet as she barrelled on toward Remus, she twisted round to fire a spell at the Death Eater. She saw him fall, and hope surged.
It was good that she'd come. Dumbledore's Army, the Order of the Phoenix, needed all the help they could get. She sure as hell wasn't going to sit by and do nothing to ensure that Teddy wasn't spending his youth fighting a war his parents had left unfinished.
Justice, Tonks, think of the justice. Her heart pounded with the word, underscored by the beat of her feet on the stone floor. You believe there's justice in this world; it's why you became an Auror. You and Remus will make it out of here alive tonight, and raise Teddy in a world where Mudbloods and half-breeds live in peace and safety from Pure-blood mania--
"Ickle Nymphie Dorakins!"
Bellatrix's twisted baby voice sounded behind Tonks at the exact moment she leapt onto the dais, firing a spell at Dolohov's back as he sent a Killing Curse at Remus. Despite being startled mid-air and landing off-balance, rolling her ankle, Tonks' spell -- she wasn't even sure what it had been -- deflected the Avada Kedavra, which Remus had been a little slow to block, and sent Dolohov toppling from the dais, limp as a rag doll.
Gritting her teeth against the pain, she kept upright, and turned to face the heavy-lidded witch whose face was so like her mother's.
"Auntie Bella's got an itsy bitsy wedding pressie for you! Crucio!"
It was aimed at Remus, but Tonks deflected it with a blue flare as Remus jumped in front of her and threw up a Shield Charm to cover them both.
"You owe me a baby gift, as well," Tonks couldn't resist taunting Bellatrix, who looked enraged and utterly shocked. "Didn't Mum send you a birth announcement? You're the proud great-auntie of a bouncing multicoloured werepup!"
She glanced at Remus as Bellatrix shrieked and saw -- thank God -- that the surprise on his face at seeing her suddenly here, beside him, aiding him, was etched with gratitude. She'd been so afraid he would tell her to go home.
You're partners. Husband and wife. Comrades-at-arms.
They only had that split second to acknowledge each other before Bellatrix, in her mad rage against the stain on her family tree, was firing off Crucio after Crucio at the pair of them as quickly as their weary limbs (God, she was exhausted to her very bones) could react.
Though, shoulder to shoulder with Remus, Tonks felt strength surge from him into her, giving her a steady hand to fire back at Bellatrix as he shielded them. Bellatrix was an expert duellist, a formidable opponent, to be sure. Tonks couldn't deny relief not to face her alone again. She would be brought down, at last. This family feud would be brought to an end.
Together, they forced her back a step...Two steps...Bellatrix's face actually paled as together they advanced on her, warding her off.
"How's that for a pair of half-bloods?" Tonks cried, and Remus added, "Don't forget shape-shifting freaks, Dora."
"If it's a dog fight you want, werewolf, I'm happy to give it to you." Sneering, Bellatrix bared her teeth and let out a shrill whistle.
From nowhere, a matted mass of fur-like hair streaked past Tonks' peripheral. Remus shoved her, quite hard, onto the ground and out the way of the leaping form that could only be Fenrir Greyback. Eerily canine, though in his human form, he tackled Remus to the ground.
Bellatrix's cackle pierced the din of the hall.
Kill her! Tonks' inner voice screamed as Bellatrix, who had paused to revel in the perverse spectacle of Greyback lunging at Remus' throat, pointed teeth bared. She's not paying attention. Kill her now!
But Tonks was mesmerised by the claw-like nails of one of Greyback's hands pinning Remus' wand arm to the floor, while the other closed around his neck, from which gurgling, choking sounds emanated. Tonks could not be bothered with Bellatrix. Her singular thought was to get that monstrous sodding bastard off her husband!
Pushing herself painfully off the ground, Tonks aimed her wand at Greyback's face.
"Stupefy!" she shouted, following with a Relashio for an extra round of stinging sparks that made Greyback yelp as he launched off Remus.
Despite the fury that had fuelled Tonks' Stunner, Greyback was back on his feet before Remus could draw more than one raw gasp for air, leering at Tonks.
"Pretty bitch you've got there, Lupin. Feisty, too -- just how I like 'em. Care to share with a fellow--"
Remus had whipped his wand at Greyback and flung him a full twenty feet off the dais, straight into a tall Slytherin boy who'd also just been Stupefied. He'd used some sort of slashing spell, as well, Tonks noticed, as crimson stained Greyback's beard.
"Such sweet Gryffindor chivalry," Bellatrix crooned mockingly. "Nymphie Dorakins' knight in shabby armour. I wonder: can he save her from...Crucio!"
The Curse hurtled violently from her wand, and Tonks grunted with the force of it as she barely got up her Shield Charm in time.
You'll have to do better than that, Tonks, if you mean to come out of this duel in a state fit for motherhood. Which you do mean.
"I'm not exactly a damsel in distress, Auntie," Tonks flung back, along with one of the more forceful Stunners she'd ever produced in actual combat. "I can look after myself."
She had to, as Greyback roared, bent now on a duel to the death with Remus as she locked in an equally earnest one with Bellatrix.
One hex for nearly killing at the Department of Mysteries.
Another for attempted murder last autumn.
A third for sending Sirius through the veil.
The most powerful of all, a whip-like lash to the face, for Teddy, who ought never to know a world with the likes of Bellatrix Lestrange.
Bumping into Remus, fighting at her back, Tonks was inspired to Conjure her Patronus for added effect. She directed it to pounce at Bellatrix, who was struggling to her feet. A look of sheer terror crossed her evil features, not realising that the form was not an actual werewolf, and she threw up her hands as the silvery maw opened at her jugular.
Tonks' satisfied grin widened as, Greyback, apparently having glimpsed the enormous werewolf spirit, snarled, "What in bloody hell's"-- then cut himself off with a roar of pain as Remus caught him off-guard with a stinging hex.
"You're almost right, though," Tonks crowed to Bellatrix. "I do have a knight in shining armour. Petrificus Totalis!"
"Avada Kedavra!" Bellatrix growled just before Tonks' curse hit her.
Remus whirled around, once again throwing his body into Tonks' to shield her.
But at that exact moment, Tonks had seen Dolohov revive and sit up, vengeful fury on his swarthy face as he spied Remus dueling Greyback. Her instinct was the same as Remus'.
Flailing for balance at the force of his shove, Tonks caught Remus' forearms. Their opposing momentum kept them rooted in place, holding each other.
Time stood still for a fraction of a second.
She glimpsed Remus' face, frozen in his fiercely protective expression.
She knew he was dead, because his blue eyes were utterly emptied of life.
Tears welled in her own as blurred green light exploded in her peripheral.
There wasn't supposed to be an and then.
Not after Avada Kedavra.
But there was.
She didn't know where and then was. They were no longer in the castle, though she could see the Battle of Hogwarts playing out, dimly, as through a faint white mist.
She and Remus remained as they had been, clasping each other's arms in their vain attempt at protecting each other from the Killing Curses.
You're dead. Remus is dead. You and Remus. Dead.
Remus is dead.
You and Remus.
It didn't feel at all like she'd imagined it.
It didn't feel like anything at all.
Did she even have a body?
Yes -- a glance down at herself revealed that everything seemed to be in tact, and her waistline was slimmer now than it had been before the battle. Just as it had been before the baby.
She didn't look quite solid, although she wasn't transparent like the Hogwarts ghosts, either. Her body felt lighter than air. Or was it just that she'd been so tired during the battle? How had she felt, just before she'd died?
She remembered being about to cry and realised that she no longer felt the sting in her eyes or the lump in her throat that had welled the moment before Greyback's Avada Kedavra struck her. And she realised she had the answer to the question of how it felt to be hit with a Killing Curse. There had been no pain, no agony at being ripped from the world of the living.
Her sluggish memory jogged, Tonks turned her head and discovered that the Battle of Hogwarts she saw playing out from so far away was just a scrap in a whole vast patchwork of life. There was her mother, her beautiful face which had gained so many lines this year, etched with worry as she awaited word of the battle, making a brave attempt at distracting herself by reading The Tales of Beedle the Bard to Teddy. The baby's hair flashed lime green as he gurgled to his grandmother.
At last, Tonks felt.
More acute than the pain of childbirth, her soul tripped in two.
Releasing Remus' arms to instead clutch his robes, she let out a strangled cry against him.
"I left him! Oh my God, Remus, I left our Teddy all alone! I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry..." Her chest heaved. "You told me to stay with him...I was a terrible mother..."
Remus arms wrapped around her tightly, enfolding her against him.
"You were not a terrible mother," he said quietly, though emphatically, as one who'd had the same inward struggle, but already come to terms with it. "You fought -- and died -- so Teddy might live, really live, with his head held high in a free world, not hiding in shame." His hand drifted up over her shoulders, cradling her head, fingers stroking her hair. "You had just as much right to give that to our son as I did."
The truth of his words resonated within her, and Tonks felt it ebb some of the sadness away. But it couldn't be right, could it, to let go? She clutched tighter at Remus' robes, as if in doing so she might hold onto her sorrow and grief.
"He'll never know us," she said. "And we'll never know him." She saw herself, hands pressed to her big pregnant belly, talking to the baby inside, positioning Remus' hands so he could feel the flutter of their unborn child within her. "I so wanted to know my baby..."
Her voice broke, and she blinked hard, longing for the warm release of sticky tears leaking out. But there was no prick in her eyes, no stinging moisture obscuring the image of Teddy in his grandmother's arms instead of hers. There was not even the lump of welling tears in her throat. That couldn't be right.
"Remus, I ought to be crying. Why can't I cry?"
"Because there is no mourning here," his deep voice rumbled against her, so soothing. "No mourning, nor any night."
As if he'd invoked a spell, Tonks suddenly felt the quietude of the place. It stole over her, and into her.
Tonks raised her head, and pulled back from him to look at Remus properly for the first time since they got here. Since they died.
The first thing she noticed was that the robes fisted in her hands were the familiar patched set of clothes she'd seen Remus wear a million times -- but there were no more patches, no more frayed hems, no more faded colour.
Flicking her gaze higher up, she saw that no more strands of grey marred the soft chestnut hair that fell to his shoulders.
No more ageing lines furrowed Remus' brow, or the edges of his mouth, or the corners of his eyes -- which were brilliant blue. The self-doubt and anxiety that had so often clouded them had been driven away.
Remus was at peace, and Tonks realised she'd never, in life, seen true peace. Not even on the faces of those who'd drunk Draughts of Peace had come close to the expression Remus wore now.
The shadow of the wolf had fled, Banished, utterly, by death.
"If there's no night," she said, a beautiful thought dawning within her, "does that mean there's no moon?"
His lips curved gently upward in a look of realisation and wonderment as he held her face in trembling hands.
"I'm healed, Dora," he whispered. "I'm whole."
His lips had just touched hers when a familiar man's voice said, "Typical Moony. First thing he does when he gets to the afterlife is start snogging."
Another man's voice said, "Can't even be bothered to say hello to his best mates."
"I think you've got to find a different nickname for him now, you stupid gits," said a woman.
Remus pulled away, laughing, and turned around. Over his shoulder, Tonks smiled to see Sirius, the haunted expression Azkaban had etched on his handsome face wiped away; a man who looked just like Harry Potter, though without glasses, who held hands with a lovely red-haired woman. James and Lily. Tonks' heart lightened. They, too, had laid down their lives for their son.
"Lily, Padfoot, Prongs," Remus said, reaching back to wrap an arm around her waist. "Allow me to introduce you to my wife, Nymphadora--"
"Don't call me Nymphadora, Remus!"
"--who prefers to be called by her maiden name..."
Here, there was no more moon, and Remus' smile was the sun.