A/N: Many thanks as ever to everyone who reviewed and to my noble gang of plot-helpers (Gilpin, Celtmama, Lady Bracknell, Drumher, Godricgal, Aftertherain and MrsTater) and to fellow helper and beta reader Snorkackcatcher. This chapter was only supposed to be a few paragraphs on the beginning of the next one, but I liked the memorial idea so much, I played a bit instead. :) I should also reiterate that I own nothing - this is JKR's mansion and I'm just a squatter in the attic, playing with her toys. Even if I have inadvertantly made off with her chapter title...;p
6: In Memoriam
It had, Teddy reflected later, been a surprisingly long few hours.
Tidying up had formed a substantial part of it. All the vials of potion he had grabbed from various shelves had had to be carefully replaced according to Elijah Whistler's catalogue. A strange red scorch mark that he hadn't even noticed at first had stained the floor beneath the Portal and needed to be carefully scrubbed away. There was little he could do about the strange, taut, painfully high-pitched hum that seemed to be emanating from the Portal itself, a physical sound that stung his fingertips like static when he brushed them that bit too close. Clearly damage had been done in the course of his field-shattering ride, but since he hadn't the faintest idea what to do about it, all he could do was pocket his damaged amulet and hope that, if questioned, he would be able to bluff his way through with a story about it breaking in transit.
And his parents had helped him, as best they could with his father still weakened by his strange experience, and his mother possessing two left feet and five thumbs on each hand. But no vial had been broken, all damage that could be seen had been repaired, and as they had worked, they had talked.
Or Teddy had. Quietly and as best he could, he had explained everything, explained how they had supposedly died in battle and how Voldemort had fallen, explained how his Gran had raised him, how Harry and the Weasley family and so many friends had helped him, even how he'd thought he didn't really need parents in his life until the moment he had stepped through the Portal and felt how real they had become for him when he had watched them die…
His mum was still pale, shocked, almost in a kind of trance, and hadn't said much as he had talked. His dad had smiled softly, reassuringly, offering comfort wherever it was needed in spite of his own weakness and confusion. It was he who had questioned Teddy once or twice on this or that aspect of what he had done, of why he had done it, quietly, carefully, with neither approval nor disdain, his eyes steady and mostly unreadable. It was a little disconcerting.
And then, once he had checked the coast beyond was clear with a soft Homenum revelio, Teddy quietly asked his parents if they would follow him up to the Floo so they could go home. They had agreed.
"You lied to Harry."
His father's statement came out of nowhere. Teddy bit his lip as he carefully reset the rotation of the Department of Mysteries door chamber and stepped out into the corridor of Level Nine where his parents were silently waiting. His father's steady gaze was fixed upon his face.
Teddy sighed. "I know," he replied softly as he gestured in the direction of the gold grilled lift doors. "And I'm not proud of it. But I had to do it. If he'd have found out you were here…"
"He'd have keeled over with a coronary?" It was the first thing his mum had said in quite some time, and the sarcastic irreverence of it contrasted sharply with her pale face and the firm, thin set of her mouth. Teddy saw his dad glance sharply in her direction, but her eyes were fixed on the lift ahead and she did not meet his stare.
"Probably," Teddy admitted uncomfortably. "But I should tell you that what I did tonight isn't strictly legal… In fact it's about as illegal as anything in this Department can be."
"No," his mum declared mordantly. "Really?"
"Dora…" His father wrapped his fingers gently around her wrist, before turning to Teddy once more. "We guessed that much," he remarked with gentle wryness.
"Otherwise there would probably be a queue of people dropping by to collect dead relatives. But that still doesn't explain why you deceived Harry like that. Were you concerned that he would turn you in?"
"No." Pulling the lift grille open, Teddy ushered his parents inside and pressed the button for the Atrium. "I was concerned he wouldn't. And that's exactly why I couldn't tell him. You see, Harry's the Head of the Auror Department." Both his parents' eyes flicked sharply in his direction although neither looked even remotely surprised. "And he's been so good to me over the years. If he found out what I'd done, he'd want to help me, help you, but how can I let him do that knowing what it could cost him? He loves that job. If anyone found out he knew what I'd done, he'd most likely end up fired, and I can't do that to him after all he's done for me. It's better that he not be involved." He felt himself wince slightly. "And if I can protect him by lying through my teeth to his face, so be it."
"Don't you think that's his decision?" There was a sharpness to his mother's tone that made Teddy feel vaguely uncomfortable. "Do you have the right to make it for him?"
His father's sigh was deep and notably profound. "Dora, at least he acted from the best motives, even if…"
"Oh that's right." As the lift came to a standstill, his mum yanked her wrist out of his father's grasp, crossing her arms across her chest with a distinctly bullish expression. "I should have known. I'm stuck in a lift with Noble Prats United."
Teddy's discomfort was increasing by the minute. True, he hadn't exactly expected his parents to fall weeping into his arms, but he couldn't say that he'd exactly imagined this either. His father's quiet reserve was all well and good, but his mother was becoming outright hostile.
"Aren't we being a bit careless?" she said suddenly, as Teddy reached past to open the lift grille. "If our being here is supposed to be the secret of the century you've made it out to be, shouldn't we be making sure the coast is clear before blundering out into the open?"
Teddy shrugged slightly, trying not to show how worrying and discomforting he found her confrontational tone. One look at his dad as they stepped out of the lift into the Atrium was enough to tell that he was not the only one becoming concerned.
"It's just gone ten," he told his mum quietly. "No one but me and Kenelm and Dougal the night-watchwizards ever stay back after nine; not even Magical Maintenance. And I know how those two work - Kenelm's always quaffing the leftover coffee on Level One by now and Dougal's probably looking for Percy's private stash of chocolate biscuits." Just to be sure, he briefly recast the locator charm and as expected, found only two other people, several floors above. He smiled slightly. "Yep. Drinking coffee and nicking biscuits, I'd bet. I think we're okay."
His mother's eyes were narrowing. "You think?"
It was at that moment that his father finally decided to step in.
"Dora," he said quietly, resting one hand softly against his recalcitrant wife's shoulder. "Are you all right?"
"Fine." The grimace on her face contrasted unpleasantly with the faux-cheer of her declaration. "Absolutely fine and dandy. Not a care in the world, that's me…" She pursed her lips, shifting her crossed arms against her chest in apparent discomfort as she ignored her husband's pointed look of concern. "Look, can we just get out of here? In case you've forgotten, I was fighting for my life a couple of hours ago and I'm not exactly feeling my best."
His dad ran one finger across the vividly blossoming bruise along his jaw-line. "Trust me. I couldn't forget if I tried."
"And neither can anyone else who comes in here." Teddy wasn't entirely sure why he chose that moment to speak, or why he chose this subject to speak of. He knew that this was new to them, that they were struggling to come to terms with the fact that their battle of a few hours before was distant history to everyone else. But perhaps if he could show them, perhaps if they could see and understand, things would be easier…
He found himself pointing, gesturing towards the large golden fountain that dominated the centre of the Atrium. A phoenix in flight rose in graceful gold from a cylindrical plinth, water gushing gently from its open beak and from its feet down to the lapping pool beneath, a dozen easily readable names engraved in silver glimmering in the half-light. Even as he watched, the names shimmered, glistened and were abruptly replaced as the next dozen on the list made their appearance.
No Muggle-like war memorial for wizardkind, Kingsley had said, no lists of names so small and numerous that no one could ever read and acknowledge them all and the sacrifices they made. Large letters, he'd insisted, readable from a distance and ever changing, so the names of those who had given their lives to end Voldemort's reign of terror would shift and rise and catch the eye, a new list of heroes to read every morning as those who owed them everything arrived at the Ministry for work. It was what they all deserved. A moment, however brief, of personal recognition.
Including his parents.
He still remembered the heartfelt jolt of shock the first time he had arrived for work and found their names staring back at him from the fountain's mount - Nymphadora (Tonks) Lupin 1973-1998; Remus Lupin 1960-1998 - two names written clear and bright in shimmering silver. They had glimmered before his eyes before shifting away to leave Marlene McKinnon and Alastor (Mad-Eye) Moody in their place.
He'd always taken more time to read the shifting names after that. By now, he knew them all.
His dad's brow was furrowed, his voice, when it came, so quiet. "It's a memorial?"
Teddy nodded. "Yes. To everyone who fell to Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters, in the First War and the Second."
His father's eyes were scanning over the names; they halted sharply, widening with sudden horror.
"Fred Weasley?" he whispered, sounding stunned. "Oh God no…"
Idiot! Teddy grimaced. Of course. He'd told them a little of the battle but he hadn't exactly provided a casualty list. And it was a few hours to them, these faces still real and fresh in their memories, not twenty years in their graves…
He glanced at his mother. Her eyes were fixed several names higher than Frederick Weasley, lingering above Emmeline Vance, and Teddy knew without looking just what had caught her eye.
Edward (Ted) Tonks 1950-1998.
She'd known he was dead, of course – he had died before Teddy was even born. But to her the loss was still a fresh wound, only a couple of months old…
With a shimmer, the memorial moved on. As and then Bs appeared; Madeline Abbott, Regulus Black, Sirius Black, Broderick Bode, Amelia Bones, Castor Bones, Edgar Bones, Edmund Bones, Miranda Bones, Hadrian Broadhead, Frank Bryce, Charity Burbage…
"You said you recorded the facts of the Battle of Hogwarts as part of your work." His father's voice was low as his eyes raked over the fresh list of names with a hardened jaw. "Do you have a copy of them?"
"At home, yes." Teddy glanced at his father's pallor, made all the more noticeable by his rapidly colouring bruises. "I've got copies of all our histories, year by year, and they update automatically from the base edition in the office as we work. Plus I've got the book Penny Weasley wrote recently on the history of wizarding Britain since the end of the war."
His father nodded, lost in apparent thought. "I'd like to read them. I'd like to know what we've missed. And it still seems strange to say that when it's just been a few hours from my perspective…"
"Are we on it?" His mum's sudden interruption almost made Teddy start. "This memorial. Are two of those names ours?"
"Yes." Teddy turned towards his mum, but she was twisting the sleeve of her tattered Auror robes and did not look in his direction. "It's alphabetical though, so you won't appear for a while. You're next to Frank and Alice Longbottom. They're still alive, poor things, but Minister Shacklebolt insisted they be included." He grinned slightly as a strange thought popped into his head. "It's ironic that the only four living people on the memorial are on the same page of the list…"
But his voice trailed off. His mother was staring at him with suddenly wide eyes. "Minister Shacklebolt? Minister Shacklebolt?" Her voice echoed through the Atrium from ceiling to floor, bouncing, multiplying until it almost seemed to fill the air around them with her words. "As in Kingsley Shacklebolt?"
Teddy stared, bewildered, at his mother's profound disbelief. "Well… yes. He was elected Minister straight after the war and he's held the position ever since. His reforms have done so much for the wizarding world…"
"But… Kingsley?" His mother, it seemed, had finally reached the end of her rapidly diminishing tether. "I worked with Kingsley. I teased him. I kicked him in the shins for calling me Nymphadora one too many times. And now he's Minister for Magic? That can't be… This is all…" Her voice trailed away as she paced abruptly past the side of the fountain, brushing off his father's outstretched hand as she raked her fingers through her limp brown hair, her features suddenly crumpled. "Twenty years in a couple of hours… my baby's grown up… Fred's dead, the war's over, Kingsley is Minister for Magic…" Her fingers tightened across her skull. "This is a dream. It has to be. I'm going to wake up in the Hogwarts Hospital Wing and find this whole crazy business has been in my fevered, delusional imagination."
"If you're dreaming, so am I." His dad's tone was softly wry. "And I don't think that theory will work when it's both of us."
His mother wheeled on him abruptly, dashing one hand against her head. "Well of course you're going to say that. I'm dreaming, Remus, you saying that proves nothing! How do I know I didn't just dream you saying you must be dreaming too?"
The look his dad directed at Teddy was so bizarrely, inappropriately humorous that for a moment it was his turn to wonder if he was hallucinating. "You must excuse your mother, Teddy," he drawled dryly. "She has these occasional disagreements with reality."
"Oi!" His mum marched up to his dad, glaring into his eyes from less than an inch distant. "Watch it, Lupin! Just because I'm dreaming this doesn't mean it won't hurt when I hit you. In fact, since it's my dream, I'll dream that it hurt you more than usual…"
And then, astonishingly, his father gave a half smile. "Now, Dora. Not in front of the baby."
There was a long, echoing silence. His mother stared at his father. His father stared back.
"Do you think this is funny, Remus?" His mother's voice was suddenly deathly cold. "We're twenty years out of our time. Everyone thinks we're dead. Our son has grown up without us. And you're standing there making jokes about it?"
His father never once broke from her gaze. "No, I don't think it's funny," he replied, his voice low, calm, firm and determined. "I think it's deadly serious. But if there's one thing the last couple of years have taught me – that you've taught me - it's that the facts don't change just because a person has a crisisabout it. We need to face this. Together." He smiled, just slightly, just enough. "And we can't do that if you're dreaming, can we? Because if you're dreaming, you can't let me in."
Silence stretched once more, deep and powerful. And then suddenly, his mum was leaning into his dad's chest and his dad was wrapping his arms around her, and planting a kiss in her hair as he pulled her close.
"See?" Teddy heard him whisper.
"I hate it when you're reasonable." His mother's voice was a grudging rumble against his father's robes. "You do know that, don't you?"
"Absolutely. Now come on." Carefully, he pulled away from her and turned to where Teddy was still waiting in silence. "I think we'd all better take this somewhere more private."
His mother was first through the Floo. For a moment, he and his father stood side-by-side, alone in the echoing hallway.
"You goaded her on purpose." Teddy stated softly.
"Of course," his father replied with the same small half-smile. "It was the only way to get through to her. She can't resist a rise, not from me, and she was holding in too much. I should know." His smile faded slightly. "But bear with her, Teddy. I don't think she's quite there yet."
And then with a flash of green, he too was on his way. A moment later, frowning slightly, Teddy moved to follow.
It seemed that having his parents in his life was going to be rather more complicated than he'd imagined.
He was so tired. There wasn't a part of his body that wasn't throbbing, from his battle-earned bruises, from exertion and weariness, from…
Crimson engulfing him like a surging tide, twisting and tossing his body like a rag doll, snatching at his very soul…
No. Don't think about that now. There's too much else to deal with.
He didn't have time to be tired, he couldn't afford to…dwell. After all, this was going to take some getting used to.
It was their house. The house he had shared with Tonks for those glorious early weeks of their marriage and the rollercoaster months of her pregnancy. It had been his childhood home and the home of his new family in turn, and it was much as they'd left it and yet somehow not, some furniture changed, re-covered or replaced entirely, things moved and altered, walls repainted, pictures re-hung, and all scattered with the indelible and rather messy print of a young man living alone.
His son. Teddy.
Less than half a dozen hours ago, he'd held a wriggling baby in his arms and kissed his forehead as farewell. And now…
And now his son had gone to see his girlfriend - Bill Weasley's daughter no less -and didn't seem to be in any doubt that he would be received despite the fact it had gone ten in the evening. When he had mentioned something about a bedroom window catch she regularly left loose for him at night, he had plaintively told Teddy that that was far more than he ever needed to know.
He strongly suspected he wouldn't be seeing Teddy again until the morning.
The thought was downright disturbing. But he didn't choose to mention it.
Because twenty years or not, Teddy was still his son. He would just have to get used to that.
And so would Dora.
But there was so much to take in, too much really. They needed to sit down, all three of them, and have a long talk about what had happened, about the implications that were flashing so emphatically through Remus' brain but seemed to have sidestepped his son's altogether. Perhaps he was wrong, but it seemed to Remus that Teddy had come up with a brilliant, carefully orchestrated plan to rescue them and not given more than half a thought to what to do with them afterwards.
The boy – the man - was just like his mother.
She wasn't coping.
He listened to the tinkling sounds of her shower in the bathroom as he put aside Wizarding Britain: A Recent History and The Ministry of Magic Official Historical Record: 1998 and settled back against the head of their old bed in their old room, prepared for them by Teddy in one piece of advance thinking for which Remus was profoundly grateful. The books, the subtle changes to this, the room that had always been their private sanctuary; they were yet another illustration of the daunting amount of things that had changed in so short – and long – a space of time. Remus was honest enough to admit to himself that if it hadn't been for the necessity of watching over Dora, he probably wouldn't have been coping with all this a quarter as well as he apparently was.
A call, a summons; hints of trees, a flash of so familiar but impossible faces, looking into a pair of determined, terrified green eyes…
Stop it. Enough.
He had to cope. For Dora.
She was suffering somehow. He wasn't sure exactly why, though there were reasons enough to be had. But he knew he had to help her.
How could he step back when the woman he loved was in pain?
He'd done that too often before. He owed her better.This has been the strangest day of my life…
The shower had stopped. He heard the bathroom door click, heard stumbling footsteps, a thud and a mutter of "bugger!" before the bedroom door creaked open and Tonks entered, rubbing her chest uncomfortably as she wrinkled her nose and picked awkwardly at her pyjamas.
"Merlin, these smell musty," she muttered irritably as she slumped down on the side of the bed to his left and pulled herself under the sheets. "Mind you, I suppose they have been in the attic for two decades. I guess we should be grateful that mum was a steaming great sentimentalist and kept most of our old clothes up there after…" Her voice trailed away as she rolled herself into a foetal ball, smothering what looked to Remus like a distinctly forced yawn. "I'm so tired," she murmured into the pillow. "Mind you, it's not every day that lasts twenty years so I guess it's to be expected…"
He felt her muscles tighten with tension as he rested one hand gently against her shoulder. "Dora…"
She did not meet his eyes. "I want to go to sleep, Remus."
"I think we need to talk about this."
"I think I'm knackered and need to sleep."
"You're upset. I want to help."
"You can help by letting me sleep."
Remus sighed. So stubborn… "And how many times in the last three years have you taken me to task for bottling things up?"
"None. We've been dead for twenty years, remember?"
Remus pulled a face, fighting a sudden flash of concerned irritation. "Dora, for goodness sake, after everything that's happened… I'm worried about you!" His voice dropped as he tightened his hand around her shoulder. "I just want to be sure you're okay. And if you won't tell me what's wrong, I can't help you…"
Her eyes lifted briefly from the shelter of her pillow, killing his sentence cold as they met with his and held. "Please, Remus," she whispered softly, her gaze an unspoken plea that pierced straight through his soul. "Not tonight. I can't do this now. It's too soon." Her lips quirked slightly, a little sadly. "How can I tell you what's wrong when I'm not even sure myself?"
Remus could feel himself giving way, falling back, in spite of the fact that the pain he could see in her face was undeniable. "All right. But in the morning…"
"In the morning, I'll see how I feel. If I can work it out." The same sad smile flickered briefly and instinctively Remus slid closer, wrapping his arms around her, pulling her close. He felt her fingers pressing into his back as her hair tickled against his cheek, her body warm against him as her breath rippled against his neck in a soft and soothing breeze. He felt rather than heard her sigh.
"Goodnight. And Dora?"
"I love you."
Her fingers tightened across his back.
"I love you too," she whispered back with an intense sincerity so deep it almost took his breath away. "And if this whole crazy business really isn't a dream…" Her embrace tightened once more. "I'm so glad I've got you with me. When I thought you were gone, Merlin I was so scared…" He felt her shiver against him. "But that doesn't matter now. Whatever else happens, at least we're in this together."
Red light surrounding him, wracking against his skin, filling his world… Dora's hand ripped away from his as he writhed, lost and alone…
Remus felt his own hold upon his wife's warm body intensify. "And that," he murmured sincerely in return, "is something to be grateful for."