Spoilers for HPDH

Candle in the Window

Bursting out of nothingness, Remus ran, wand tightly clenched in his hand, cloak billowing behind him. Swiftly he moved from nameless street to dingy alley with little awareness of where he was or where he was going. Eventually his pace slowed and his heart slowed, but his thoughts sped ever faster, running themselves ragged in circles that gave him no relief and few answers.

At last his restless movement came to an end and he threw himself against the dark brick wall of a building. Sliding down to sit in its shadow amid piles of scattered refuse, unwanted and unneeded, he dropped his face into pale, shaking hands.

He wasn't a coward, but his basic honesty forced him to admit that didn't make him brave. Nor did it mean he wasn't being consumed by his fear, but that fear wasn't for himself. He wasn't just looking for a quick way out. He knew that was true, even if Harry didn't.

Leaning wearily back against the bricks of the wall, he stared up between the sharp, regular outlines of the buildings towards the living sky beyond, where the moon shone cold and clear in the darkness.

He wasn't Sirius, and he didn't want to be. Taking off on a grand adventure held no appeal for him. He'd never looked at life that way and he certainly wasn't now, but he needed to do something! Something that would make a difference. Something that might mean that his child wouldn't have to grow up the way he had… as an object of fear and loathing.

At the very least, he wished he knew what Harry's mission really was. Living with all this ignorance didn't help anything at all. He was so sick of dancing in the dark while the world turned around him and things always got worse. Going with Harry seemed as if it would be the best way to meaningfully contribute…to do something to really help, but maybe he was wrong about that. Maybe by running towards something concrete and real, something he could do, something he could fight…what he really ended up doing was running away from what he felt so inadequate to face.

With a sigh of frustration, Remus pushed himself to his feet once more and began to walk.

How had he ended up in this muddle anyway? Hadn't stepping away from the fantasy of Hogwarts, where so much had seemed possible, and going out into the stark reality of the larger world shown him the truth?

He'd always lived by a set of simple rules. Don't get too close or care too much. Never forget the danger you pose to others. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can have a life like everyone else! He thought he'd learned his lesson, but apparently he hadn't learned as much as he thought. And now he'd made a mess of everything…was there any way to fix it?

As he thought of Tonks, his face softened into a wistful smile. He did love her. More than he'd ever loved anyone. But he never should have given in to those feelings. By doing so he hadn't done her any favor.

No matter how he felt, no matter what he longed for, he shouldn't have married her. The expressions on her parents' faces when they heard the news should have been enough to dissuade him, but no…he'd been swept along on a wave of happiness, unfamiliar and compelling. And he just hadn't allowed himself to really think about what it would ultimately mean.

And now there was a child! His child! And whatever misery he or she would face in life was entirely his fault. How could he have been so irresponsible?

Ruefully, he shook his head. Did it really matter now? The child was a reality. No matter what its ultimate fate would be, it was coming. Since it was too late to change anything…shouldn't he simply face up to what was and make the best of it? Wasn't that a lesson he'd learned, too?

Remus came to a stop and looked up at the single flickering light burning in a familiar window. It seemed that even if his mind was still lost in guilt and uncertainty, his heart had known where to lead him. And maybe that was what really mattered. Perhaps it was time to start listening to his heart and let the rest…let the fear…go…if it wasn't already too late.

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Leaning wearily against the door frame, Remus knocked and held his breath. The window of the small flat had been lit, but did that mean she was home? Before he could wonder too long, the door opened and Tonks stood there framed in warm light.

Joy and relief suffused her face when she saw him, but before she could throw herself into his arms, her training reasserted itself and she aimed her wand at him instead.

Remus smiled in approval and began to recite...

"I'm Remus John Lupin. Werewolf, Order member, wandering husband of the truly amazing Nymphadora Tonks, and a prize idiot who probably doesn't deserve another chance."

Her eyes glistened and her wand wavered, but before she could lower it, he added, "In case you still aren't certain it's me, I probably should mention that you have the most adorable mole right between your…"

He broke off as she threw herself into his arms and kissed him soundly. When they paused for breath, he held her close and whispered softly, "I've been a fool."

She shook her head and hugged him tighter. "No, you haven't! I understand, and I knew you'd come back sooner or later. Come inside so we can talk."

Taking his hand in hers, she led him into the cramped flat where the first thing he noticed were the packed suitcases resting against the far wall.

"You're leaving," he said quietly.

"I was going to go to Mum and Dad's. She's been worrying about me staying here alone. I figured going would keep her off my back for awhile and let me keep an eye on them. I worry about my Dad with everything going on at the Ministry, you know."

She placed her hand under his chin and turned his face away from the packed luggage and back to her.

"But I knew you'd find me, no matter where I was."

There was an awkward moment of silence then they both spoke at the same time…

"I'm sorry!"

Remus shook his head. "You have nothing to be sorry about. I was the one who ran out on you. This is all my fault."

Tonks shook her head vehemently. "No, that's not true. Your leaving forced me to think…to look back at what I'd done."

"What you've done?" Remus was confused.

"Yes! God, Remus. I was so focused on getting you to love me and be with me, and then finally, to marry me, that I never gave you a chance to catch up emotionally. I've always been sort of single minded about what I want, I guess. Determined, you know? I wanted you, and I wouldn't stop until I'd convinced you that you wanted me, too."

Guilt flickered through her eyes. "Ever since Albus died we've been on this huge emotional train ride and everyone we know has been pushing the car along faster and faster. When I thought about it, I wasn't really all that surprised that once we slowed down a bit…you jumped out and ran. You've spent your whole life pleasing others. I feel as if we all took advantage of that. Never giving you a chance to really decide if this was what you wanted."

"I love you, Dora…I do..."

"Oh, I know you do!" She hurried to reassure him. "And I'm the luckiest woman in the world to have your love, but…I know that none of this is what you ever expected from your life. I know how overwhelmed you've been." She lowered her voice. "I know how much you've worried about me…and the baby…"

Remus stiffened slightly and turned away to stare out the window into the darkness. "It's not that I don't want…that I didn't feel…" He stopped and took a deep breath.

"I just don't want either of you to be hurt because of me! You simply don't know what it's like to be hated and feared by virtually everyone you come into contact with. And there's nothing you can do about it! It doesn't even matter than you'd never willingly do anyone any harm. Once a month, for a few hours, you're dangerous, and even though it's completely outside your control, you're demonized because of it… an outcast. No one should have to live like that, especially not an innocent child. And if…if…"

Tonks grabbed Remus by the arm and turned him back to her. "Our child won't be a werewolf, Remus!"

He smiled sadly and shook his head. "You can't know that for sure."

"Well, maybe no one can know anything for sure," she admitted reluctantly, "but I'm as sure as I can be. After you left, I contacted Madam Pomfrey…"

Alarm blazed in his eyes. "You didn't go to Hogwarts?"

"No, of course not. I sent her a message and set up a meeting. I figured she'd be as likely to know as anyone and if she didn't, she'd probably know how to find out. She said that she couldn't find any evidence of even a single case where the curse was passed to an unborn child. In her words: Werewolves aren't born, they're made. She said that anything else was only nasty rumor and unproven fantasy. Only a werewolf under the influence of the full moon can pass on the curse.

"Look at what happened to Bill. If any werewolf could pass on the curse outside the full moon it'd be Greyback, wouldn't it? I mean, no one else would want to that much, but even he couldn't manage it."

"This isn't quite the same…"

Tonks sighed. "Then use the evidence of your own eyes. You spent all that time living with werewolves in very intimate conditions. Were there any affected babies born to any of the women in the group?"

He shook his head. "No."

"See!" she exclaimed.

"None of them had children, Dora."

"Oh..." That disconcerted her for a moment, but only a moment. "Well, I'm willing to trust Madam Pomfrey. But even if she's wrong, and you're right, I'm going to love my baby, because it's mine…and even more, because it's yours."

He smiled faintly and, encouraged, she rushed on.

"I know things haven't been easy. I know everyone sort of pressured you into getting married and then the baby was a surprise. Okay, more of a shock. And I know having my folks not be exactly supportive hasn't helped, not to mention the war and worrying about Harry. I know you haven't really had a chance to sort it all out." She stopped abruptly and simply stared at him for a moment.

"Do you want a divorce?" she asked quietly.

He shook his head and reached out to draw her into his arms. "No. No, I don't," he whispered as he hugged her close and rested his head on hers.

"I went to see Harry. I offered to go with him, wherever he's off to on his mission for Albus. Suddenly I needed so much to do something useful…to fight to change this world that's treated me so harshly and would do the same to you and our child."

He snorted softly. "He accused me of being a coward, of wanting to run off and seek adventure instead of living up to my responsibilities."

Tonks pulled back and looked up at Remus with indignation. "What!? How could he say something like that? You're not a coward! You're the bravest man I know. I'm surprised at Harry."

Remus shook his head. "No, Dora, he was right. Well, not about all of it. I wasn't just looking for a grand adventure, but whether I could have helped him or not, I was wrong to run out on you and our child. I was avoiding my responsibilities because I was afraid. Afraid that I'd already ruined your lives. Afraid that I wouldn't be able to be the husband you deserved…and the father that our child will need."

"You haven't ruined anything, Remus Lupin. You're exactly the husband I want. The only one I'll ever want, and you'll be a wonderful father to our child. We're both really lucky to have you in our lives."

Doubt still shadowed Lupin's eyes as he looked at her and seeing it caused her to shiver. "I wish I could make you believe that," she added softly.

"I'm still afraid that you and the baby will end up suffering because of me," he said simply. "But I realize now that it's too late to change things. The die is cast, and I have to face up to my responsibilities and do the best I can.

"Yes, there was a lot of pressure from a lot of people pulling us together, but I've resisted pressure before and if I'd really wanted to, I could have again. I married you because I loved you, Dora, not because I was pushed into it. And though we hadn't planned on it, we're having this baby together. Even if the worst happens and it does end up taking after me, I can't just run off and leave the two of you to cope alone.

"As much as I want to be out there doing something to change this world we're forced to live in, to make it a better one for our child than it has been for us, right now, this is where I'm needed. This is where I belong. If you'll have me back…"

"If?" she exclaimed happily as she answered him by throwing herself into his arms and kissing him passionately. "I'll always want you with me, Remus Lupin, and no child could do better than to take after you."