A/N: This is an unashamed Spoiler-filled post-DH canon-fixing denial fic that I started the day after DH came out as a personal way of coping with the deaths of my two favourite characters. The idea for it attacked me and stuck and wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. My intent is to bring back Remus and Tonks while staying true to canon and thanks to my Wheat-Thrashing Committee of Celtmama, Snorkackcatcher, MrsTater, Gilpin, aftertherain, Drumher, Godricgal and Lady Bracknell who all kindly volunteered to help me pull this blighter into some kind of order after I got bogged down, I've fingers crossed succeeded...
A Little More Time by Jess Pallas
You do not touch. You do not change. You do not interfere. We watch only.
It was the one rule they knew they couldn't break.
It was the absolute. The law. Every new initiate into the Historical Records section of the Department of Mysteries: Time Division was forced to commit it firmly to memory before they were even allowed to enter the Unspeakables realm on Level Nine. They signed their names one after another on the contract that bound them to it on pain of Azkaban. That every precaution possible had been taken against it, that it was believed to be beyond the power of any to disobey whether they wished to or not was entirely beside the point. In the wizarding world, impossible was not always as it seemed and the Division was taking no chances with history.
For that was their job. To watch history unfold. To observe the truth of past events and return with neatly annotated notes and corrections for the history books. Wrapped in a field of passiveness by means of an amulet that once worn could not be removed except in the present, they passed through a Time-Turning Portal into history and drifted through events as no more than invisible, insubstantial ghosts, watching and recording the past into which they silently ventured. They took no wands for passage through the Portal stripped away all magic, all unnatural disguises and they passed through walls and doors and people to find the truths hidden away by the swirling mists of time.
They had solved murders and resolved disappearances. They had watched events unfold in ways unsullied by the politics or allegiances of those who scribed their history books. It was Minister Shacklebolt who, twenty years before, had requested that the Department find some way to see the past without changing it, to learn the truth behind a myriad of unknown fates, to ensure once and for all after the lies and half-truths that had dogged the Ministry for so long could be untangled one way or another. He had wanted to know the truth of history, clean and pure and tell it to the world.
And then, two years ago, came the Portal. It had taken so long to reconstruct even a single Time-Turner, after the last of them had been destroyed in Harry Potter's venture into the Department of Mysteries when he had still been but a boy. It had taken longer still to construct a means to take a person back not hours, but decades. And time had stretched on further as they fought to turn this single hourglass into a gateway through which a team of impartial observers could step to any time, any place and watch and record what they saw without damaging the past or the future, without affecting events.
You do not touch. You do not change. You do not interfere. We watch only.
And when Teddy Lupin had joined the Historical Records Section, when he'd nodded obediently at the instruction he received, when he'd signed the contract and accepted his amulet with a smile, he'd never imagined that the day would come when he would want to break it.
But it was the Battle of Hogwarts that faltered his resolve.
Perhaps he shouldn't have gone. His Divisional head, Penelope Weasley, had taken him aside that morning for a quiet word, saying in a soft, understanding tone that they had received a request from the Minister to start looking at that fateful night in order to establish exactly how and why so many had died. She had squeezed his shoulder gently as she said it would be a difficult assignment for all involved but more so for those who had lost someone that day which was why she was offering both him and Dennis Creevey a chance to back out now. In fact Dennis, she informed him, had already headed off on a holiday with his wife. And she knew, of course, that Teddy's girlfriend Victoire was graduating from Hogwarts in a couple of month's time. Perhaps he could take a few weeks off and plan a trip for them both to celebrate…
But at the root of it all was the question. Was he going to stay? Or would he like to go?
And Teddy had chosen to stay.
It would have been a lie to say the thought of seeing his parents die didn't bother him. But at the same time, he had never known them and it was hard, really hard for him to see them as more than an abstract concept, a could-have-been, an empty hole in his life that ached sometimes but did not sting. After all, he'd never been alone – his Gran had raised and loved him like a son and Harry and his family and friends had always been there for him, treating him like one of them for as long as he could remember. Molly – or Auntie Molly as he had known her since childhood – had told him once that his father had promised her that if anything should happen to her or Uncle Arthur during the war, that he would watch over her children. And Molly Weasley and her family had paid that debt in kind.
It felt odd sometimes, to hear them talked of, these parents that his extended family had known so well and he never at all. Oh, Gran had told him so many teary eyed stories of his mother's childhood adventures and love of life and Harry's coming of age gift on his seventeenth birthday had been a trip into a pensieve to watch his father teaching a practical and highly amusing lesson on Boggarts at Hogwarts. That indeed, had been what had got him interested in the idea of the realities of the past in the first place.
But there were so many holes about them,together, a couple. When had they fallen in love? Why had they fallen in love? What had they been like together? No one really seemed to know apart from brief glimpses and hints – both Harry and Molly had ruefully told Teddy that on occasion trying to crack into his father's emotional state was like trying to dig through granite with a pin, and his mother, usually so demonstrative he was told, seemed to have respected his wishes to keep things just between themselves. The dawning of their relationship had apparently been quite a private thing, about which Molly seemed to know the most and that was very little. Sirius, Harry's godfather, seemed to have been his father's principle confident, but Sirius, like his parents, was dead and thus of no real use in unravelling their story. And Gran was no more help – it seemed his mother had not even confided in her about the relationship until she strolled in beaming and informed her parents that she was getting married in two days to a thirty-seven year old werewolf and did they want to come?
He knew they'd had troubles. No one had tried to hide that truth from him. But they'd had good times too and their love for each other had won out over doubts and war in the end. They weren't paragons. They were people.
Abstract people. Picture people. Story people. People whose faces and expressions should have been so familiar, whose gesture and manner should have been part of his every day, but when he looked into his heart for them he found nothing but photographs, stories and other people's memories.
They were people he knew of but didn't know. Somehow, they weren't quite real.
And if he did happen across them in the past, it would be no different to walking into that pensieve, to hearing stories, to looking at pictures. It wouldn't give him his childhood with them. It wouldn't make them any more real.
It wouldn't make them his.
He had truly believed that. He was wrong.
For the next morning, he saw his parents die.
And it was the most real thing he'd ever seen.
He hadn't meant to watch. He hadn't even known that this would be the place. He'd known that their bodies had been found in the courtyard far below and there, he'd assumed they had died. They hadn't.
It had happened on the battlements above. The battlements that Teddy had chosen to observe the advance of the giants from.
From the sweat-stained, beaten-up look of his father and the Death Eater he had just pursued so furiously up the stairs from the grounds, the duel had been raging for quite some time. The Death Eater Teddy absently recognised from his notes as Antonin Dolohov had wheeled, bellowing spells almost desperately as his father ducked against the chunks of stone that rained down from perilously near his head, before firing back a curse that sent Dolohov reeling backwards, tumbling over, his wand spilling from his hand to rattle against the stone out of reach. Screams and roars, the bellows of advancing giants, the screech of spells tore through the air around them but suddenly it seemed as though nothing but this moment and these two men existed.
"Werewolf scum!" Dolohov's voice was thick and accented, made awkward by the blood trickling from his nose and lips as he crouched against the wall. "Beast! Savage!"
His father was breathing hard, gasping and his voice when it came, so gentle in that pensieve memory, was a harsh rasp that was all but unrecognisable.
"This from the man who just murdered a child!"
"A child!" His father was spitting the words. "I knew Colin. I taught him. And you mowed him down like he was nothing." He was shaking his head. "I can't let this happen anymore."
His wand lifted slowly, deliberately, his hand shaking slightly but never flinching. "Enough is enough. Avada…"
But he got no further. For that was the moment when the club of the first advancing giant descended with a crash against the wall on which he stood.
The battlements shattered. In a hail of stone and dust and flying rock, Dolohov and his father disappeared.
He hadn't seen her arrive, hadn't even noticed her until she tore straight through his ghostly, unseen form with a warm flood so touch-like that almost sent him reeling. He caught a glimpse of flapping robes, of wispy brown hair as she lunged desperately forward, grabbing at something he couldn't quite see as the dust swirled and twisted through the air…
And then, miraculously, there they were. Alive.
"I've got you! Remus hold on, I've got you!"
And she had. She leaned back, straining against the cracked and broken remains of the battlements, her hands wrapped frantically around his upper arm as she pulled and pulled with all her might. He saw his father's other hand slap down against the wall, saw his dusty, dishevelled head appear, his eyes fixed upon his wife with a mixture of shock, joy and horror.
"What the hell are you doing here? Get out of here, now!"
His heart pounding with audible force, Teddy felt himself all but laugh out loud at the look that crossed his mother's face as she grasped the back of his father's robes and began to haul him bodily up those last few inches to safety.
"Do you mean right now?" she exclaimed, her voices raising a good two octaves. "Or shall I finish saving your life first?"
"Saving my life is good! You being safely with our baby is better!" With a grunt, his father hauled himself onto the remains of the flat stone walkway with a crunch, breathing even more heavily than before. He looked up at her then, one hand still grasped in hers as she helped haul him to his feet. His eyes met with hers then and they filled brim full with a cocktail of pleading, love and desperation so potent that it all but took Teddy's breath away.
"Get out of here," he whispered softly. "Please."
The battle was raging all around them, screams and spells and carnage. But in that instant, that brief, eternal instant, Teddy knew they could see no one but each other.
And in that moment, he knew that they were finally real to him.
The whispered word had slipped from between his lips, unconscious, unguided. But it was already too late.
For a moment his parents almost seemed to flicker, undulate, stumble but then the spell struck them both as one, a flash of green that washed across their bodies and dragged the life away from them. Their hands were still clutched together as their bodies crumpled over the edge and disappeared into the courtyard below.
A dusty figure on the far side of the gaping rent in the Hogwarts' wall was smirking victoriously. Grasping his retrieved wand in one hand, Antonin Dolohov turned and vanished into the dark stairwell beyond.
He'd almost forgotten. Almost allowed himself to forget that they were about to die. He'd lost himself in simply watching them.
He hadn't even seen Dolohov until the spell had come. That much he shared with his parents.
But they'd been together. And it had been quick.
But if they'd looked up once in that instant. If they'd just seen Dolohov one moment earlier…
His life, their lives. So different.
For one moment of distraction, they paid with their lives. And he lost them forever.
It was then that he looked down, saw the tiny piece of colour fluttering in the harsh wind of battle away from the spot where moments before, his parents had stood hand in hand. Crouching carefully, he stared at it.
It was a photograph. Of a baby. A baby with turquoise hair.
It was him.
A moment later, the wind grasped it once more and tossed it away into the air.
And that single moment was the first time that Teddy Lupin seriously wanted to risk everything
It would take so little. Just a second's difference would mean so much, a warning, a shove, a stunner fired at Dolohov before he had time to strike them. If he could just find a way…
You do not touch. You do not change. You do not interfere. We watch only.
It was then that Teddy Lupin knew that he should never have agreed to come here.
He couldn't change history. He couldn't. Could he?
No. NO. No…
So there. It did no good to anyone to ponder what couldn't be.
Even if, maybe… That time he morphed whilst in the field, over-stretched the size of his hand to try and record a historical artefact's size measurement and as he morphed, he'd felt the limited range of the field of passiveness straining around him, yearning to burst. He knew the reach of the field was limited, that it could only stretch so far within the bounds of human movement and then it'd dawned on him that he alone of all of them could stretch that little bit more than it could take. Penny had been so alarmed when he'd told her – she'd made him swear never to morph whilst through the Portal again and he had done so without giving it a second thought. But was this why? Had she realised what it might be possible for him to do? If he could reach that bit further, if he could break the field and reach beyond it then maybe, just maybe…
He could touch the past. He could change it.
The thought was there. At the back of his mind. And it refused to go away.
He told no one of what he had seen. And if he had been able to stay away, probably no one would have ever known.
But he couldn't.
The next day, when he should have been out on the grounds, he saw his father rush too late to the aid of blond teenage boy, saw him yell with fury and rush off in pursuit of Dolohov up the stairs towards those fateful battlements. And he had followed him. And watched. Again.
He vowed not to return after that, but then it was his mother, rushing down a corridor, asking this and that fighter if they'd seen Remus, had anyone seen Remus? And this time he followed her. And watched. Again.
The fourth time he was there and waiting.
In the end it was Penelope who found him, watching again, one quiet day two weeks after their examination of the Battle of Hogwarts had begun. Worried about the downturn in the quality of his work, she'd followed him.
He was not at all surprised to find Harry Potter waiting for him on his doorstep when he got home. The Weasley grapevine was the fastest growing he'd ever encountered.
The talk he'd had with his godfather had been long and excruciating. Harry had sat him down with a glass of butterbeer and a bar of Honeydukes Best and told him about his own struggles to cope with the loss of his parents, about his temptation before something called the Mirror of Erised, about the struggle he faced in the Patronus lessons with Teddy's father between blocking out the horrors and a simple desperation to hear their voices. Teddy had nodding gamely and accepted his understanding.
But he didn't know. He couldn't know. Harry had always known there was no chance, no hope of seeing his parents again. He'd never had to wonder if they could still be saved.
Teddy no longer had that luxury.
For while Teddy had watched and watched and watched again, he'd also been thinking.
He couldn't change the history of then, he knew that now. That'd been a pipe dream all along for he knew more than most about the way the laws of time worked and he knew that any changes he made then would already be real in the now. Time was all one piece. If it hadn't happened, it couldn't happen, because if it had changed, he'd never have known it to be any different. No. He couldn't change the past.
But what about the present?
As long as everyone at the time still thought they had died in the battle, if they had indeed been nowhere to be found for twenty years…
Then why not bring them back with him to now?
He watched and he'd watched. And again and again, he'd seen that odd flicker, that shimmer just before the curse struck, just before they died. He had no explanation for it. No explanation unless…
It hadn't happened yet. Unless it was something he was going to do. Something he was meant to do.
Like breaking the field? Like grabbing them and pulling them through the Portal a moment before they died? Like finding some way to leave behind two corpses in their place so history would still be as it should?
It wouldn't be easy. But it wasn't impossible either.
And then it was then that Teddy knew that he was really, truly going to do it.
He was going to save his parents' lives.