A/N: Many thanks to everyone who reviewed:) It's nice to know I'm not the only one out there who wants to see Remus and Tonks get a rather better ending:) I probably won't be updating this rapidly again since I'm writing this blighter as and when I can find the time and my schedule isn't as generous in that regard as it could be anymore. Also thanks must go to my Merry Band of Plotting Assistants again, especially to aftertherain for suggesting the use of Felix Felicis when I plaintively asked how in the heck I was supposed to have Teddy pull off all these amazing tricks at once without making it seem unrealistic…:)
It was times like this, Teddy mused to himself, when he could definitely use a visit from Ron Weasley. He really needed some choicer swearwords.
The theory behind his plan was sound. He was sure of it. But the timing of it, the execution…
Bloody hell. He'd need to be Harry. He'd need to be God.
He knew exactly what to do. He knew exactly how to do it. He just didn't know if he could.
Picking up his messy pile of scribbled notes, Teddy slumped back against arm of the settee and gazed absently at the mantelpiece for a moment, allowing himself a soft, almost apologetic smile at the picture of his parents that lived there. It was their wedding day, his mother dressed in white dress robes topped by vivid pink curls beaming gloriously in spite of the large pink wine stain she'd managed to provide for herself down one arm. His father was also smiling broadly, if a little disbelievingly at his newly acquired wife, dressed in old fashioned gold trimmed robes that Gran had once told him had been borrowed from Minister Shacklebolt back in the days when he was plain old Auror Kingsley. Every so often, the two figures in the picture would turn, link arms and share a brief, gentle kiss.
Teddy closed his eyes. Well. If God was what they needed, he'd just have to try and provide. Because he couldn't go back now.
He'd promised them.
Before that, somehow, he'd felt as though he could still back away from his impulsive, emotive decision to break every rule that surrounded his career. And perhaps, given time, he would have taken that step back, accepted the truth that they were gone and simply let it go. Perhaps.
If Harry and Penelope had not decided to be kind.
They'd thought he was brooding. When he'd turned down Harry and Ginny's dinner invitations one too many times in order to thrash out his theory by working late in the Unspeakable Library, they'd come to him before work one day full of gentle reassurances and undisguised concern. When Penny had noted his work turnover had remained below average since his encounter with his parents, she'd suggested seeing a St Mungo's grief councillor, not realising that his delays were caused by experimentation in the realm of the past; seeing exactly how far he could morph before he could feel from the taut hum against his ears and the grasping tightness around his body told him that the field of passiveness was a frayed thread away from tearing. He never pushed that one step further – he was sure that the Portal would detect an actually broken field and that would probably be the end of his access to the only means he had to save his parents' lives – but at those time of greatest pressure, he was certain that when he brushed his fingers against the parts of the past all around him, a flower, a wall, a box on a mantle, they did not pass through like smoke as they always had but tickled, just slightly, remotely tingling against his skin.
It was exhilarating. It was terrifying.
He could break the absolute law. He could touch the past.
You do not touch. You do not change. You do not interfere.
But would he have tried to go that final, enormous, irrevocable step that a fingertip's flex would invoke? Would his fear of the consequences have overcome his grief in the end?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But that was irrelevant. It became irrelevant on the day that Harry and Penelope had come here to see him, visited him in the home that had once belonged to his father's family but had now fallen to him and offered him what they thought would be comfort.
Access to the Portal. Private access for up to three hours on weeknights, for as long as he needed it. Why?
To watch his parents. But not to watch them die. To watch them live.
Harry, bless him, had compiled a list as best he could from friends and acquaintances and his own past. The dates and locations of important moments in his parents lives; times when they were happy, times when they were sad, times when they were people just living their lives. Get to know them, Harry had told him. See them as more than a pair of corpses tumbling from the battlements. He hoped it would help.
It had. But not in the way Harry had hoped.
He'd watched his father playing here in this very house as a lonely, isolated child, watched him blossom at Hogwarts in the company of a group of loyal and playful friends. He'd watched his mother, her hair ever changing just as his was, toddle into chairs and fall with a splat over rugs in the house where he had been raised as his Gran, looking young, so young, scooped her up and kissed her bruised knees away with laughter. He'd seen his father's joy in his work at Hogwarts, his mother's elation at passing her Auror exams. And then he'd seen them meet.
There had been no fanfare, no fireworks. A simple meeting of the Order of the Phoenix at Grimmauld Place. His mother, endearingly worried, had brought a prank gift of hair tonic for her dishevelled ex-convict cousin. And that cousin's quiet friend had reassured her, caught her when she stumbled and laughed with her until her awkwardness and nerves subsided. And that most frightening of words – werewolf – entered the conversation, he'd seen his mother take an instinctive step back, seen his father's expression tighten but then he'd seen glowering in his mother's face a determination that it took a moment to understand. And then she made a joke about it, he laughed along with her and they were talking again, laughing again, relaxing again and by the end of the evening, they had crouched side by side fighting hysteria as they used the hair tonic to give the large black dog that Sirius Black had become a quite emphatic quiff.
She'd been bothered, he could tell, that his father was a werewolf. She just hadn't let it get in the way of getting to know him. Of liking him.
And later, of loving him.
He was getting to know them, just as Harry had wanted. And the more he watched, the more he cared.
He lingered now, beyond the time and dates that Harry had given, speculating, exploring their lives at Grimmauld Place, just seeing how they lived day by day. He saw them laughing and joking with their fellow Order members, saw them staying up to joke and mess around with Sirius Black late into the night. He saw the lingering looks they cast almost unconsciously towards each other, saw the way each other's company made them come alive as they did with no one else. He saw them confiding in each other, drawing in trust, sharing with each other what they shared with no one else.
He saw their first kiss.
His father had been so unsure of himself, of it all, of whether what they were doing was really the best idea. But his mother, oh, she had been so determined. Their feelings, their relationship, tentative at first but undeniable nonetheless, had blossomed, grown and engulfed them both completely.
And once a few months had passed for them, the number of times Teddy had to politely retreat and give them their privacy when they were left alone increased out of all control. There were certain things no son should ever have to witness.
But the joy did not last.
He saw them close up Grimmauld Place, both sorrowful, both grieving at the death of a much-loved cousin and friend. He could see even then that his father was pulling away. He knew they had spent the next year apart, that his father had tried to spare his mother from a life caught in the shadow of his lycanthropy, but no one knew the wheres and whys of their relationship in those troubled times. That secret was lost to their memories alone. Reluctantly, Teddy had abandoned his free ranging and turned back to the notes.
The Hogwarts Hospital Wing. He tailed them outside after their unexpected confrontation, watched them sit quietly together by the lake as his father softly, quietly, willingly gave in. He went to their wedding next, stepping inside the photo on his mantelpiece and learned that the wine stain had been his father's fault (kissing his mother's neck from behind while she was holding a full wine glass was apparently not a good idea). They had come back to the house that was now his, the house left to him in his parents will and moved into when he'd finished Hogwarts, and caught in their moment, had whisked each other upstairs. Teddy had discreetly departed. It was around the right time in July and Teddy could most definitely count. No one should have to bear witness to his own conception.
He'd moved on. He'd seen the mingled look of horror and joy, disbelief and terror on his father's face when she'd broken the news of her pregnancy. He'd seen his father start to lose himself and flee as he faced the death threats and redundancy his wife was suffering after her marriage to him, the stigma she faced from the pregnancy, and shouldered too much unnecessary blame for him to stand. He witnessed the forceful slap his mother had inflicted on his father after he had returned and watched as he placed his hand upon her abdomen and swore on their child's life – on Teddy – that he would never leave them like that again. He saw them together again as the pregnancy progressed, happy in spite of the world that was falling to pieces around them.
He saw his own birth.
It was messy. And…ow. It made him glad he wasn't a woman. And the Healer had said that his mother being a Metamorphmagus had made it easier too.
If that was easy… Blimey.
But it had been the moment after, his father wearing the same look of disbelieving joy he'd seen at the wedding, his mother beaming in spite of her exhaustion as they sat side by side on the bed, cuddling their baby, cuddling him… And though he knew he couldn't have any memory of it, he could almost feel their touch, their love, the press of his mother's lips against his forehead, the stroke of his father's hand through his slowly lightening hair…
It was then he'd known.
He loved them.
He'd never known them. But he'd watched them. And the love had crept upon him so gradually, he'd barely realised it was there until now.
They were his parents. And they'd loved him too, he could see it, he could feel it…
He had to save them. He had to.
He had known they couldn't hear him. He hadn't cared.
"Mum," he said softly, addressing the two figures snuggled together with their baby on the bed. "Dad. I'm going to save you. I'm going to give you the life you should have had." He took a deep, determined breath. "I promise."
And that was how Teddy Lupin had come to be sitting on the settee of his… his parents… his family home, grasping a sheath full of notes and desperately needing to be a hero, a God, or the luckiest man alive.
He'd got it all worked out. Breaking history had been his first concern, for he knew in order to keep things as they should, there had to bodies for people to find. Harry, he knew, had seen them dead. So had many others. They'd been buried three days later at Godrics Hollow. So there were corpses to be found.
He had doubted at first. Maybe they really were dead. Maybe he had tried and failed. Maybe the corpses buried in those graves truly did belong to Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks.
But then he had listened to old Bert Croaker.
Albert Croaker was one of the longest serving Unspeakables in the Department and he loved to tell stories. Teddy had always found it a bit of an irony that such a garrulous chap should work in the most secretive part of the Ministry of Magic in a job he was forbidden to talk about beyond the Department itself but that had never hindered Bert for he talked to his colleagues instead, sharing stories of this or that experiment, a rare discovery, the unusual use of a charm or a potion, the subversion of magic and creation of new truth. The Historical Records section had been his dream come true – now at last, everyone wanted him to talk about and share what he saw. And as Teddy had settled at his desk in the office shared by his section one afternoon, compiling his notes from that morning's expedition to the Death Eater display at the 1994 Quidditch World Cup, Bert had strode in with a massive grin on his face and declared to the world at large, "I knew it!"
"Knew what?" Dennis Creevey had been rather more subdued than usual since returning from his holiday but nonetheless he grinned at Bert as he offered him a cup of coffee from the self-warming pot in one corner.
"Cornelius Fudge." Bert took a cheery swig of coffee before depositing himself on the edge of Teddy's mahogany desk. "Faked his death, didn't he?"
Teddy stared and he wasn't alone. Exclamations of surprise rose from all corners of the room.
"Never!" The exclamation came from Rose Zeller, a friendly, auburn-haired witch in her early thirties who had taken Teddy under her wing when he had joined the Department as an apprentice straight out of school. "How? I mean he fell dead out of the Floo on his way to the corruption hearing didn't he? Most of the Ministry saw his body! There were pictures in the Prophet!"
"Wasn't his body, was it?" Bert was wearing the unmistakable smile of a man who had news to share and knew everyone would want to hear it. "Replication charm. One quick Geminio and he'd made himself a fake corpse and shoved it in the fireplace. Then he downed some Polyjuice and hopped a Portkey to South America. He's probably still there."
There were more gasps and exclamations of shock and disgust.
"That filthy weasel!"
"How'd he get away with that?" Teddy heard his own voice cut through the disbelief almost without recognising it. His mind was suddenly spinning. Could this be it, what he needed, could this be…? "I mean, couldn't anyone tell it wasn't really him?"
Bert glanced over his shoulder, smiling fondly at the currently purple haired young man upon whose desk he was resting. Teddy sometimes found it a little irritating the way the older members of the Division tended to look and treat him like a twelve-year-old nephew they had adopted into their work place, particularly the ones that had known his parents. But if playing up to it got him answers, this was one time that the attitude might be bearable.
He smiled with as much fake but innocent sincerity as he could muster and, wincing with disgust within himself, added a hint of rosyness to his cheeks. Bert beamed at him fondly.
"Ah, young Lupin!" he proclaimed, slapping one hand down on Teddy's shoulder in a chummy fashion. "That's the Replication charm for you. Cast it on something and you've made yourself a perfect copy of whatever it is you've just touched. Oh that copy won't last forever and it won't be as pure or carry any magic cast upon it but it'll do for tricking someone in the short term. But cast it on a person…" He sucked his teeth. "You get a copy of that person, a perfect physical copy, right down to the spots on their brow or the frays in their robes. But it'll be lifeless. You can't copy a soul." He shook his head. "And the Replication charm doesn't react well to that. The copy should be perfect but it isn't. It can't be. And so after about a week or so, the copy will dissolve, break down, until you've nothing more than a handful of dust." He shook his head. "No wonder Mrs Fudge was so adamant that we get him in the ground so quick. Didn't want to blow his cover, did she? And then of course, when she moved to Rio to get away from all the memories…" He snorted loudly with disdain.
"Portly git." Dennis proclaimed with feeling and was met with nods of agreement from all around the room. "He'd probably have only got a few months in Azkaban for being a corrupt idiot with a power complex but now he'll be up for perverting the course of justice too. And after all that blather about promising to face his fate with fortitude. If he hadn't been so determined to hide the truth about You-Know-Who…"
"Lord Voldemort." Lucy Brightwell, a blonde witch in her twenties, intervened. It was a running quarrel between the younger and older members of most of the wizarding world about which name exactly it was appropriate to use for a long dead enemy.
"Whatever." Dennis waved the old argument away. "I assume you've shopped him Bert?"
"Sent Rajesh up to Hermione Weasley with a report straight away. I reckon a couple of Aurors may be off to Brazil on a Fudge-hunting expedition in the not too distant. May need to dose them with some Felix Felicis though, it's a big country. Maybe we should send some up from the lab, eh?"
The others had gathered round Bert, clapping him on the shoulder and congratulating him on this belated piece of justice, but by then Teddy hadn't been listening. The Replication charm… A perfect but lifeless copy that lasted a week before dissolving… And his parents had been buried after only three days…
The plan had come together after that. He could not take his wand through the Portal to cast the spell himself for the Portal would not permit anyone to enter the past with a wand or any magical alterations to their person; he still remembered the day Lucy had come in with her hair intricately charmed in place for a date after work and had emerged furious from the Portal when the magic of the gate had undone every last securing charm. But there would be wands available to him on the other side, wouldn't there? His parents had both been holding them…
So that was it. Still settled on the settee, Teddy crinkled his scribbled notes in his hands. All he had to do was enter the past, position himself exactly where his parents were going to die, morph until he broke the field of passiveness, reach out, grab a wand from his parents and pray it worked for him, cast Geminio on both of them and then grab hold of them as he activated his amulet in order to return himself through the Portal to the present.
Not much to go wrong there then…
Harry. God. Luckiest man alive.
None of these was he.
Bert Croaker slouched against his desk, laughing as he received his plaudits for uncovering the cowardice of Fudge. …a couple of Aurors may be off to Brazil on a Fudge-hunting expedition in the not too distant. May need to dose them with some Felix Felicis though, it's a big country. Maybe we should send some up from the lab, eh?
Luckiest man alive.
And they had some in the Department's potions lab. Bert had said so. And Bert would know, Bert talked to everyone, found out everything…
If he could get his hands on one vial, just one…
Then he could do it. He could do it now. He could do it tonight…
Any weeknight, Penny had said, any weeknight he could use the Portal. He'd gone home and come back before now. No one would question his presence…
Teddy breathed deeply, his eyes drifting to that picture on the mantle, his mind rushing through all he had seen of their life. He could do this. Tonight, he could do this.
Was he ready?
He stared at the picture. Smiling, his parents kissed.
Yes. He was.
Dumping his notes back on the table, Teddy pulled himself to his feet and took a deep, steadying breath.
"Pull yourself together, Lupin," he scolded himself firmly. "This is it."
He felt strangely removed from his hand as it reached into the pot over the mantle, grabbed a handful of green powder and hurled it into the fire. Emerald flames leapt high and strong.
And Teddy stepped inside.
"Ministry of Magic!"
And then with a whoosh, he was gone.
No going back.
"Teddy! Teddy Lupin!"
Victoire Weasley was not in the best of moods.
He'd promised her. He'd promised. He'd smiled and assured her that yes, of course he would come over to her parents' house on Monday night, he would be waiting right there as soon as she and her parents got back from their week long Congratulations-On-Graduating-From-Hogwarts trip to see Grandmere and Grandpere in France. And though she'd thought he looked a little pale as he met her briefly off the Hogwarts Express, though she'd been a little concerned about the vague tone his letters had taken in the last month or two and the odd looks her parents and Weasley relatives had exchanged whenever his name was mentioned, she'd never for a moment disbelieved him.
Until he'd failed to show up. He hadn't been waiting. He hadn't come.
Her papa had tried to tell her that he knew Teddy had a lot on his mind right now, though it wasn't his place to explain precisely what. But to Victoire, there was no excuse. He'd promised. And he hadn't done it.
And so, brushing her father aside, she'd grabbed a handful of Floo powder and headed straight over to his house.
He wasn't in the lounge. Glowering furiously, Victoire bellowed his name again, storming into the kitchen and then the old study before hurtling upstairs. By the time she returned, still boyfriend-less to the hall, her temper had been waning and by the time she'd stepped outside to assure herself he wasn't in the garden, she had begun to get slightly concerned. Where was he?
Maybe he was working late or had had to go to his Gran's for some reason. But then, couldn't he have called and let her know? For a moment, the fleeting, horrible thought crossed her mind that he could be out, out on the town with another girl, a girl he liked better than…
No. No. Teddy wasn't like that. She knew him. He wasn't.
And he wouldn't have broken his promise without good reason either.
A lot on his mind, Papa had said. But what? What was distracting enough to make him forget a solemn promise he'd made to his girlfriend?
Well, he wasn't here. And neither was the answer. But she needed to hear from him, she needed to know…
A note. She'd leave a note. After all, he'd have to come back sooner or later.
A pile of scribbled on, scruffy paper lay crumpled on the table by the settee. Scrap then. Maybe if she could just find a blank piece…
Victoire lifted the papers. And froze.
For a few moments, she could only stare, her eyes drinking in the words not believing, not comprehending. Then slowly, disbelievingly, her eyes lifted and fixed upon the framed picture over the fireplace.
Teddy was going to…
"Oh Teddy," Victoire heard herself whisper. "Teddy, you idiot, they'll throw away the key…"
She had to stop him. She had to tell someone, she had to find a way…
Yes. Yes. He'd know what to do.
Stumbling forward, the notes still grasped in her disbelieving hands, Victoire grabbed a handful of Floo powder and hurled it into the fire.
"Number Twelve Grimmauld Place!"