In The Forest Again

Summary: He was scared, he was upset, he was dead. But Remus Lupin saw their faces, and somehow it didn't seem so bad after all.

Remus Lupin opened his eyes and saw himself looking down at...nothing. Plain, white, nothingness.

And then he realised he was naked. He was alone; he was sure of that, but somehow didn't feel like exploring this...nothingness, without clothes. He sat up, looked around at the white, then saw a pile of robes next to him. Without much thought, he pulled them on, vaguely aware that they were brand-new. He hadn't had brand-new robes in a while.

Even as he stood and looked around him, the white-ness changed, slowly darkening, forming, and the floor was earth and plants and twigs and tree roots, the sky was obscured by tall, thick trees and their leaves, and all around him were trees and other plant-life.

Before he realised he was in the forbidden forest, he realised he was dead.

He thought of Tonks, of Teddy.

And emotions grabbed at him, choked him. He'd left them, his wife, his son, left them,

He was scared, he was upset, he was dead.

Remus looked around himself, vaguely wondering why he was in the forbidden forest, of all places. And then he saw them.

"Moony!" The cry was loud, and the voice was one he hadn't heard in a long time. His jaw dropped open, and he blinked in surprise and disbelief.

James Potter was walking towards him.

And behind James Potter, he could see Lily and Sirius, walking after him.

James threw his arms around Remus, hugged him, then moved back so Sirius and Lily could do the same.

"We didn't want to see you so soon." Lily said quietly when she released him. "But it's good to see you anyway." Remus saw the worry on her face, despite the way she smiled at him.

"It's still happening, isn't it? The fight?"

Sirius nodded. "You're not the first. And you wont be the last."

"We've been watching." James explained.

"Watching?" Remus repeated.

"You'll see." Lily murmured, glancing over her shoulder. "We'll take you on, and you'll understand."

"Understand what?"

"It's hard to explain." James shrugged. "But, anyway, we've been watching the fight. And before that..." James smirked. "You, Remus, a dad. And married, huh?"

"Dora." Remus murmured. "She followed me, didn't she?"

"Yes." Sirius replied, nodding. Remus swallowed, closed his eyes.

"Hey, we want to thank you." James said, touching Remus's arm. It was clearly to distract him, but Remus didn't care. He wanted to be distracted.

"What for?"

"Watching out for Harry." Lily told him. "Thanks. Really."

"He's a great kid, isn't he?" James said, his face lighting up with pride.

"Yeah, he is." Remus murmured. "Is he...OK...?"

"Yes." James said, and put his arm around Lily. "He's still alive."

"He's going to stay that way, too." Lily murmured. "He's going to win, going to kill Voldemort and live."

And Remus saw that she only half-believed what she was saying.

"Are we going, then?" He asked, curious about where they were heading, and desperate to make sure everyone else was OK.

"Not yet." Sirius said, and looked at James, who shook his head, and jerked his head at little in Sirius's direction. Sirius shook his head, looked at Lily, who simply stared at him.

"What? What is it?" Remus said, although he thought he might have a good idea.

"Fine." Sirius snapped, glaring at James and Lily. Then he turned back to Remus, sighed. "Moony...we have to wait."

"For Dora." Remus murmured, as his heart sank.

"I'm sorry." James said. "She should be here in a few minutes."

Remus wanted to sit; conveniently he saw a tree stump barely a foot away, and lowered himself to it, lifted a hand to his face.

"Teddy." He sighed.

"I know." Lily murmured, and squeezed his shoulder. She did, Remus realised. Lily and James did understand.

"Harry'll look after him." Sirius assured him. "Harry and Andromeda. He'll be OK."

"It's not the same." Remus replied.

"We know." James said quietly. He, too, was worried. They'd be told Remus would be on his way, and they'd come to meet him. They'd been told Nymphadora would follow, and they were going to wait for her.

But no one seemed to know about Harry.

"Fred Weasley's died as well." Sirius said, to break the silence. Remus looked up.

"What? Oh, no." He stood, with some idea of going to Molly and Arthur, before remembering that he couldn't.

"She's here." Lily murmured, looking behind Remus. He turned, and saw her.

His Dora, looking just as terrified and sad as he'd felt. Then she saw him, and ran, threw herself at him.

"No, no, I didn't want you to be dead, no." She said, even as she clung to him and buried her face in his shoulder.

"You were supposed to stay with Teddy. Stay safe." Remus murmured.

"I couldn't." Tonks replied. "I left him, I left Teddy with my mum. And now..."

"I know. I knew you would. I told myself you'd stay home, safe, but I knew you wouldn't."

"I'm sorry." Tonks murmured. She drew back, and then realised they weren't alone. She'd seen Remus, only Remus. "Sirius." She said, looking at him carefully. Younger, she thought. And different...as if he'd never seen Azkaban.

"Hiya." Sirius replied, raising a hand in greeting. Tonks shifted her gaze, looked at James and Lily.

"Oh. You...You're Harry's parents, right?"

"Yep." James said. "Hi. Nice to meet you." It occurred to Tonks that she'd rather have met him under different circumstances, but she forced a smile.

"You too. Ah...Lily."

Lily Potter was studying Tonks carefully, and Tonks was a little nervous because of it.

Then Lily smiled.

"I couldn't believe it when Remus kept pushing you away." She said softly. "You're good for him, and he was the only one who didn't see it."

"Oh. Thanks."

"And you've been good to Harry." Lily added. "Helped look out for him. I'm sorry you've had to leave Teddy."

"Yeah. Me too." Tonks murmured.

"Try not to worry, OK?" Lily said, and then laughed a little. "That's stupid. You're going to worry, no matter how hard you try. It's hard, leaving him alone..."

"Come on, let's go." James said finally. "We have to make sure..."

"Yes." Lily murmured, and smiled a little at Tonks before turning, taking James's hand.

James and Lily lead the group, Sirius behind them, and Tonks and Remus behind him.

"Go where?" Tonks murmured.

"I don't know." Remus replied, looking at the people, his best friends, who he'd missed, so much. "But I don't think it's going to be so bad."