To Fight and To Protect
By: Koorino Megumi
Deathly Hallows spoilers warning! I wrote this story because J.K. Rowling is someone I greatly admire, and her characters moved me so much that I wanted to write about some of their untold moments. I hope you enjoy!
"We need to talk."
Lupin, Tonks, and her mother Andromeda had all been in the sitting room together when the message came in, the couple's purple-haired son Teddy lying on a blanket on the floor at their feet, surrounded by toys. Their calm afternoon changed in an instant with the message's arrival, and the urgency in Lupin's voice was unmistakable as he beckoned to his wife.
Andromeda nodded her assent at the two. "Go ahead." Standing up from her chair, she moved to sit on the sofa directly in front of the boy just as soon as his parents vacated it.
Tonks also stood immediately, stubbing her toe on a rattle as she did so. The toy rolled under the sofa, rattling as it went. She winced at the pain, giving an apologetic glance to her baby boy, but by then her husband was already headed into the next room, so the young mother quickly followed him. She'd known that this was coming the second the message had been delivered, and she knew that, the faster they got the talk over with, the faster they could go.
Both of them could go.
"You're not going." "I'm going, too."
They spoke simultaneously, the very second Tonks had closed the door to the kitchen behind her. Lupin's jaw dropped as he finished, but she looked at him with a determined glint in her dark eyes.
"I'm a member of the Order, Remus! If the Order is going, so am I."
"But you've just had a baby..." her husband protested, stepping away from where he stood by the cabinets and reaching his arms out to her, as if to hug her.
"Not that recently! I'm perfectly fine!" She backed away quickly, avoiding his touch by rounding the corner of the table in the center of the room. The spiky tips of her hair were turning red, and the color was spreading quickly. She forced herself to take a deep breath and calm down. "Remus, I know how you feel," she said, looking straight into his eyes as she spoke. "I worry, too." She couldn't help giving an involuntary glance toward the next room over, where they could hear her mother starting to play peek-a-boo with their son. The red in the Metamorphmagus' hair disappeared as abruptly as it had come. "But you haven't forgotten what I said the last time you ran off, have you?" She spoke these last words softly to avoid having them overheard, but her tone was every bit as intense as before.
Lupin winced, still ashamed of what he'd done all those months ago. "I'm not planning to leave you, Dora. You know how much has changed since then."
She nodded, understanding. "But that's what I mean--I don't want to leave either. Neither of us does, but we both know that we want to fight if we can. Isn't that who we are?"
"But...Teddy..." protested her husband, glancing at the closed door to the next room himself now.
"It would be the same for Teddy if it were just you instead of just me," she said, her expression daring him to contradict her. "But I won't ask you to stay."
"But it wouldn't be the same!" he cried, coming over to her in a few short strides and putting his hands on her shoulders this time, staring at her desperately. "Dora, our son needs you. I don't want to leave, but if I don't come back, someone has to be here!"
She couldn't keep the hysteria from her voice. "But I can't watch you leave again, Remus! I can't!"
They were both silent for a moment after her outburst. Then Lupin drew his wife into his arms, holding her tightly. She buried her face in his chest as he rubbed her back. "I will do everything I can to be with you again soon, Dora. I promise you. But I don't want Teddy to grow up without his parents. There are too many children these days who have to do that already."
Tonks cried into him as he continued to hold her, whispering soft reassurances. Eventually she pulled back, looking up at him with eyes that still glistened. "Be careful, Remus. Please, please, be careful. I'll...stay. For Teddy. But I can't...I can't wait days for word from you again."
"You won't have to," Lupin assured her. "Harry's back, remember? He'll win this fight--tonight."
Tonks nodded, although the gesture seemed to be more of an attempt to reassure herself than anything else. "You'd better...say good-bye to Teddy then," she choked out. "For now, I mean."
Lupin nodded back at her, letting her go but taking her hand into his and leading the way back into the sitting room.
Andromeda looked up as they entered, knowing enough not to say a word until they'd told her what they had decided to do. Teddy was sitting on her lap on the sofa now, and he turned curiously to his parents, sucking on his knuckle. His hair was dark blue now, although it seemed to be slowly shifting toward green.
Lupin cleared his throat. "I'm going now."
Andromeda had the sense not to argue. "Take care of yourself, Remus."
The man nodded, stepping forward a bit awkwardly and extending his arms. His mother-in-law understood and offered Teddy to him, staying where she was on the sofa.
Taking a step back, Lupin held his son against him, bouncing him in his arms. The boy smiled up at his father, giggling as he reached out a hand to grab at the man's graying hair. Lupin caught the hand, giving it a squeeze. "You will grow up in a world that's safe for you--for everyone," he promised. "I hope you can forgive me for wanting to fight for that." He let go of his son's hand then, but Teddy swung his tiny fist at his father's hair again, laughing at the new game that he thought they were playing. The man couldn't help smiling at the child, batting at his hand a few times so that the laughter wouldn't fade. But he knew time was of the essence, so after just a moment, he lowered his hand and offered the boy to his wife, who was standing behind him.
Teddy let out an annoyed cry at the end of the game, but as Tonks took him, she offered her pointer finger to him, allowing him to take it in one chubby fist and stuff it into his mouth, sucking contentedly on it. "Hurry back," she said to her husband.
He nodded and bent down to give her one last kiss. She leaned into it, but he only let it last for a few seconds before breaking away. He could see the pain in her eyes as she let him go, but he knew that this had to happen, both for her sake and for the sake of their son. He gave Teddy a kiss on the top of the head and then stepped away from them both. "I'll be home as soon as I can." He forced a smile, as if that could somehow lighten this moment. "Daddy's off to make the world a better place," he announced. "Good-bye for now."
Then he turned, forcing himself to keep his gaze focused forward as he crossed the room and unlocked the front door, heading outside. But just after he had crossed into the yard, he was brought up short by a voice calling from behind.
He wasn't surprised to find his wife opening the front door that he had just closed. Their green-haired son was still held securely in her arms, looking around curiously as he was being jostled about for no apparent reason. Tonks herself was shaking slightly.
"I swear to you, if I could go with you, I'd be careful." Her expression was desperate as she stood in the doorway, her eyes pleading with her husband. "I'm an Auror, Remus, and a member of the Order. Don't leave me here like this."
Lupin's heart broke at the look on Tonks' face. He did the only thing he could think of, going back to her and giving her a kiss on the forehead before putting an arm around them both. "I have to," he whispered, "I'm sorry."
He could still see the anguished look on his wife's face and just barely hear their son start crying as he took a step back. He disapparated without another word.
Tonks tried to do as her husband had asked. She paced the house after he had left, carrying Teddy around with her. She rocked the baby as he took a short nap, then warmed a bottle for him when he woke crying. She fed him, tapping her feet listlessly as she was forced to stay in one position. She played with him, doing the tricks with her nose that he always loved so much and Lupin always said he'd be doing himself soon if she kept it up.
None of it helped. Her mother's admonitions didn't help, reminding herself that her husband had promised to be careful and come back soon didn't help, placing her trust in Harry to finish this as quickly as he could didn't help. It didn't take long for her to decide that this was far worse than when Lupin had walked out on her the last time. The last time, she'd at least known that he wasn't walking directly into a battle--she'd known that Harry had been keeping himself safe somehow and would definitely look out for him, regardless of what Lupin might have tried to do. This time...
She'd known since the moment she'd watched him go that it was only a matter of time before she followed. The only question had been whether she'd be able to wait for the battle to end or not. And now she'd done everything she could think of to tear her mind away, throwing herself into the best distraction in the world, who at this moment was laughing up at her as she tickled his stomach, giving a smile that made her heart melt. But none of it was working in the least to soothe her troubled mind, and she knew that she couldn't wait anymore.
It wasn't just because she needed to see Lupin. That was most of it, but if that had been all, maybe she could have stayed waiting a little longer. As it was, not only did she need to see that he was okay, but she, personally, had to help make sure he came home all right. Her need to protect her husband was too strong to ignore. As she had told him, she was a member of the Order, too. If he was going to fight, then she couldn't rest. She needed to be with him, fighting by his side.
She picked Teddy up very gently as she stood up from the blanket spread on the floor of the sitting room where they had been playing. For a moment, she savored the feeling of his warmth against her. All she could think of was what it meant to be alive--to touch, to hold, to love.
But she wasn't leaving to die. Just because she was leaving to fight--to protect--didn't mean that she was going to die.
"I have to go with him," she stated.
Andromeda was sitting in her chair at the time, reading--the woman had long since given up trying to calm down her daughter. But the book fell from her hands to the floor as Tonks spoke, and she immediately stood, opening her mouth to protest. "Dora, you-"
Tonks brought her up short. "I've decided. And I'll be careful, Mum. I just...I have to fight, too!" she declared. Her expression wavered, and softly, she added, "And I have to make sure he comes home all right."
For a moment, her mother still looked ready to protest, but the woman finally bit her lip, holding the words back. She reached out her arms instead. "Then I'll watch him while you're gone." Her voice shook.
Tonks' eyes filled with tears. "Thanks, Mum." She looked down at her son then. He had gone back to sucking on her finger, and she gave him a warm smile at the sight. "You'll be good for your gran, won't you? I know you will." She kissed him on the top of his head. "And your mummy and daddy will be back as soon as we can. I promise."
"He's always wonderful," Andromeda assured her. "He'll be fine."
Tonks nodded, but she hesitated then. Knowing that there could be no more delays, however, she gently extricated her finger from his hand. Teddy gave a cry of protest, reaching for her. She shushed him softly, bringing him over to his grandmother. "I love you so much, Teddy," she whispered. "But I have to go. I have to fight beside Daddy."
The boy gave another yell of protest as his mother handed him to Andromeda. He began to cry then, reaching out for her, wanting his mother.
Tonks' eyes glistened. "Later, Teddy. I'll be back later, and Daddy will, too."
"Take care--both of you," Andromeda said, bouncing the baby in her arms as he continued to cry.
"We will," Tonks promised. "Good-bye."
And with that, she began walking backwards out of the house. She waved as she went, trying to smile for her son, even forcing a laugh when she walked right into the front door before opening it.
Andromeda took one of Teddy's flailing arms into hers as he cried. She waved it, bouncing him with the hand that held him and shushing gently, trying to stop him from crying. He would not be deterred and screamed harder, his hair turning red.
Tonks turned away from them as she began to cry herself, opening the front door and heading over the threshold of the house. She gave one glance back as she moved to close the door behind her, but then she fixed her eyes on her destination. She had a terrible feeling in the pit of her stomach that, even though there was nothing in the world that she wanted more, neither she nor her husband would be coming back. But she couldn't stop now--she wouldn't.
She could still hear her son crying as she disapparated, bound for the Hog's Head. She held the sound in her mind, treasuring it. No matter what happened, she was determined, as she knew her husband was, to make their son proud.
And they would.