A Wolf Always Knows
A Parents' Sacrifice
Animals—wolves, a lot of the time—tend to know when their mate is expecting young. There are certain physical and emotional differences that one can sense before the mother herself. You know almost from a week after what must have been the conception, on the full moon. You and Nymphadora are lying in bed. You are a harmless wolf, under the influence of Wolfsbane potion.
Quite suddenly, a new smell from Nymphadora's usual shampoo meets your senses. This is one you have never experienced before, throwing your suspicion to intruders in the house. You leap from the bed and run to the main room, your wife at your heels—well, paws—asking what is wrong. Quite foolish of her, seeing as you cannot respond. Instead you shake your head and go back to the bedroom, trying to identify this new smell.
All you know is that, refreshing though this new scent is, it leaves a feeling of unease in your stomach. You can hardly sleep at all that night. It is quite unnerving, to think you know what the smell is in the back of your mind, you are just unable to place it on anything you have ever experienced. Or, at least not experienced for a very long time.
The next morning while Nymphadora is still asleep and you dress, you decide to associate the new smell with flowers, for some odd reason. It did not smell like any sort of flower you have ever heard of. Nymphadora wakes just as you finish dressing, complaining that she has been robbed of a strip-tease in reverse (or something along those lines), before getting out of bed and wrapping her arms around you from behind.
Again, something is different that you can't place a finger on when you feel her body against yours. You catch another whiff of the flower smell as you note a difference in the way she looks. If you at all believe in Divination, you would probably say her aura is making itself pronounced today. It is as if Nymphadora is radiating some sort of energy about her.
You ask her if she has some sort of new shampoo as you both try to make breakfast in the tiny kitchen later on that morning. She looked at you as if you had asked if she had seen a duck in the pantry. She asks if she should have bought a new shampoo, looking confused. You merely shake your head and blame the flower scent on the breeze drifting through the window that night.
When you venture out to retrieve Harry from his aunt and uncle's house two weeks later, you have nearly forgotten about the changes. You smile very slightly when Nymphadora shows off her ring to Harry. As if he were interested in marriage, he probably has enough on his mind as it is. You still apologize for being unable to invite him; you have been feeling guilty about that.
For a very brief moment you are amused by how worried Ron is about putting his hands on Nymphadora's waist. He keeps looking at you as if you are going to dive for his throat. Now, if his grimy little hands venture any further, the boy will have to worry. You like not to see yourself as the jealous type.
You think your heart is going to stop upon hearing that Nymphadora and Ron missed their Portkey. You will never forgive yourself if she gets hurt in any way. Luckily, she seems only shaken by her aunt's attempts on her life, but uninjured.
When she stumbles into your arms, you remember the smell and the feel again, because they are now stronger than before. You are too worried by your fellows' absence and relieved by your wife's safe return to really take them into account.
Another three days later, you're looking through a few things that you have been keeping packed up over the years. There's a photograph of Lily and James, the night Lily told them all she was expecting Harry. It is almost impossible to imagine Harry as an infant now, even though you were there to witness it. It all feels as though it was someone else's life, over several millennia ago. That was a different man then, and you know this as Nymphadora comes up behind you. There's a baby carrot sticking out of her mouth, another odd change. She usually detests any sort of vegetable.
You freeze suddenly as you catch another whiff of the flower smell, and realize what it is as you gaze at Lily and James. The night before you took this photograph had been full moon. You had experienced the same scent on Lily Potter as you hugged her in congratulations that night. That was why you associated flowers with the smell.
You turn around and gaze at your wife, who is totally oblivious to this new change in herself. It is…completely unthinkable, for Nymphadora to be expecting a baby. It was absolutely terrifying to imagine. She smiles at you and wraps her arms around your waist. You place a hand on each of her hips, and feel a difference. The change is only very slight, but it is there nonetheless. Her hips are wider than usual. Only slightly again, but it is different enough for you to tell.
Nymphadora asks if you're alright, that you're looking pale. Of course you feel unable to answer her; your mind is reeling with fear. You choke out that you're fine before excusing yourself to the bathroom. You sit on the edge of the tub with your face in your hands, pondering the full impact of what was happening to you and your wife. You've been in love for two years, but only married for about a month.
What are you supposed to do? Your wife is alright with living in a world of prejudice, but what about the child? The child won't even have a chance at a normal life with you as a father. You tell yourself this and don't realize you're moaning until Nymphadora, your beautiful wife, knocks on the door and asks if you're feeling okay. You say you're fine, trying to brush her off, but she won't take no for an answer. Begrudgingly, you allow her to open the door.
Now you ask her if she is feeling alright. She furrows her brow and says she's fine, wondering why you ask. You stare at the floor as you tell her of your suspicions. By the time you finish she is sitting beside you, but her reaction is much different from yours. She looks shocked but happy. The smile on her face is wider than a Quidditch pitch, more beautiful than life-giving air. You love seeing her happy, but you know that her happiness must be limited.
You tell her that she will go to her mother's, which is the only way she can be safe.
You convince yourself that this is so as you tell her to leave you.
It is much easier than forcing yourself to leave her.
She is, of course, livid at you for thinking so lowly of yourself, but you take no notice. If she won't pack you will do it for her, you think as you walk to the bedroom. She storms and rages and shouts at you as you take her clothes out of the wardrobe and put them in a rucksack.
Nymphadora pulls it from your hands and shouts at you to listen to her, that nothing is definite yet. There is still a chance that she is not going to have a baby. You notice that she visibly wilts at the thought. In your fear and anger you become reckless, and say she doesn't seem like the kind of person to want children. She rolls her eyes at you and says that's why she had never been in a serious relationship before you. All the men thought that, by her appearance, she would be all for a nice fling and nothing else. The moment she would talk about getting serious, they would leave.
It only makes you feel worse when she says she's always wanted a huge family, seeing that her own family was so small. There had never been room for more children, seeing that their extended family was either Muggles or Dark Wizards. You have never had the heart to tell her you had four sisters who died in the first war.
She says that you will both go to Harry's birthday tomorrow, and avoid the subject of children until there has been enough time to tell. You completely forgot about Harry's birthday until now. He would understand if you didn't get him anything, he isn't a very materialistic boy. Man, you correct yourself. Harry is now, and probably has been since Sirius's death, a man. You agree to her terms.
You can tell that she has been thinking about the child all night and part of morning. She looks simply radiant as she greets Harry at the party. You try to look happy, but you know that Harry can see right through your façade.
You never truly thought your heart could jump so high as between your eyes until you hear Arthur saying that the Minister was on his way. Before you have time to think, you have apologized to Harry and are pulling Nymphadora away from the group. If the Minister were to see you and your wife there, it would make things very awkward. The moment you are over the fence, you find yourself asking Nymphadora if she's alright. She looks at you as if to say "You see? You do care!"
Immediately after you and Nymphadora are allowed to leave the Burrow after Bill and Fleur's wedding, you Side-Along Apparate to Nymphadora's parents' house. She looks completely dumbfounded as you pull a miniature suitcase out of your pocket, return it to full size, and give it to her. She weakly tries to protest, but knows it will do no good against you. You watch her go up the front steps and practically fall into her mother's arms. Andromeda looks as if she would like no better than to feed you to the giant squid, but is too busy helping her daughter inside.
You have no choice. The worry and fear inside you had been building over the past two weeks and reached its peak, until you succumbed to packing your wife's things and keeping them in your pocket.
The row with Harry shakes you to your very core. You never imagine he would say such things to you. But you cannot help but know he is right. You truly are a coward. You would rather see yourself and your wife miserable and your child wondering what it had done wrong to make its father leave, than just let yourself be happy for once. You want to go back to her, but you are worried about how she will receive you. You are worried that she now hates you.
So you wait, for a very long time. You try to write her letters, but you always end up saying the same things over and over. By the time you build up your courage to go to her parents' house and just talk to her, she's four and a half months along.
Andromeda stares at you with that feed-you-to-the-squid look again when you ask to speak to your wife. She opens her mouth, most likely to curse you, when you see Nymphadora behind her. She doesn't look angry, more like relieved. She asks you if you've had your head screwed back on straight again. Andromeda looks at her and backs away, still watching you. You tell her that you were a coward, she smiles and agrees.
When your wife wraps her arms around you and says she wants to go back home, your eyes fall closed. You can feel the tiny being moving inside of her. It fills you with regret for how much pain she must have felt in your absence. You promise to never do anything so foolish again.
Bill and Fleur come around your small house once in a while for a visit. You see Bill's face light up whenever he hugs Dora, and you know he can feel the baby moving. She and Fleur always talk in quiet voices in the kitchen, discussing plans for the child. You can hear them laughing and debating on baby names. Bill asks you in the sitting room if you're excited about being a father. You admit that you're more terrified than excited. You confide that you're worried about the war, and being a good enough father. Bill simply smiles and says that the fact that you worry means you'll be fine.
In the final days of her pregnancy, you receive the news of Nymphadora's father's murder. You know you have to tell her, but you have to find a way to do it without too much emotional strain. Both Andromeda and Molly Weasley warn you that she can't be too strained or it could cause serious health problems. You finally decide to just stay as near to her as possible as you tell her, to make sure she'll be alright. She cried for a long time, then asks that if the baby were a boy, to name him after her father. You find this decision more than fitting and honorable to her father's memory. She has trouble sleeping, but is otherwise alright.
A few days after her father's death, when you come home, you know something is wrong. There is more than one person in the house. There are at least three people beside yourself inside. You drop your cloak on the floor and draw your wand. Whoever is inside isn't trying very hard to remain stealthy. They are speaking in clear voices and moving around. You hear Nymphadora's voice ring out; it sounds as if she's in pain.
She is now panting and asking where you are. You pick up your pace to the bedroom, your wand aloft. When you open the door, you wife is lying down on the bed, looking scared and exhausted. You see two people in the corner and turn your wand on them, but it's only Andromeda and Molly. Now you realize what's going on, and begin to panic. You are not ready for this! Molly sees you and ushers you out into the sitting room quickly. Apparently, you're supposed to wait. You can't even hear your rational thoughts anymore. They're still there, but your terror and anxiety are screaming, making rationality inaudible.
Your wife is having a baby. Right now, while you're sitting on the couch like a frightened child. She is in pain, probably cursing you directly to You-Know-Who's doorstep as he's stepping out and feeling particularly murderous. Your respect for mothers everywhere reaches a paramount as you hear Nymphadora scream.
You feel like an ass.
A big one.
A really huge, fat ass.
A really huge, fat dumbass.
Yes, that's what you feel like.
A really huge, fat dumbass.
You sit with your head in your hands, concentrating on this thought, until all noise suddenly stops, and Nymphadora's cries of pain are replaced by the cries of a baby. Molly rushes in and pulls you into the bedroom by your arm. Nymphadora looks positively radiant, albeit exhausted as well. She has the baby in her arms, tears falling down her beautiful face.
You cross the room in very few strides and are immediately beside her, kissing her hair and staring down at the infant that you have helped create. Nymphadora tells you that little Teddy wants to see his daddy. You can't fight the grin and the tears as you hold your firstborn child in your arms. His hair is soft and black, and his eyes remain yet unopened. Molly and Andromeda leave the room to give you and your family privacy.
You never thought you would hear those words put together until now. You have a wife and a son, and your heart couldn't be more full with love.
You're going to do things right this time. You're going to be there for your son. You're going to be the great father James was, the role model Sirius was, and the friend Harry is. You're going to be the husband Arthur is. You're going to be the teacher you once were.
The possibility of Lycanthropy in your son is the farthest thing from your mind as you sit with your family.
"Stop. Now. Please," Remus begged James as he stared though the window at his own life, tears cascading down his face. He would never see his son's first steps, hear his first words. He had broken his wife's heart by leaving her alone in the world. His oldest friends placed their hands on his shoulders as he completely lost control. He fell to his knees with his face buried in his hands.
"Remus…" James said bracingly. "He's going to be fine, you know that. He's got his mother, and his grandmother, and his godfather. He's going to be alright."
"Subtract the mother from that equation," Sirius said. Remus looked up to see his wife, his wonderful, strong, beautiful wife, striding toward him with tears in her eyes. Remus stood and stared at her with tears building again.
"What have you done?" Remus asked, the tears falling freely down both of their faces.
"Do you really think I could have stayed cooped up at home while you were…d-dying?" Dora asked you, placing a hand on Remus's cheek. Remus wrapped his arms around her tightly, feeling her love, but not her touch. Neither of them would ever feel physically again. "I'm s-so sorry. I didn't mean t-to."
"I kn-know," Remus choked out, holding her close, "I don't think anyone means to be murdered." Dora chuckled weakly at his poor attempt at humor.
"We've left our baby behind," Dora cries into your chest, returning to her somber demeanor.
"Would you rather he came with us?" Remus asked as he stroked her hair.
"N-no! No, never!" she sobbed into him. Remus kissed the top of her head.
"Like James said before, he's got your mother, he's got Harry…he'll be okay without us," Remus said, starting out composed, but his voice shook dangerously toward the end. "He's a good boy, a strong boy." He continued to whisper comforting words until his wife calmed down. She backed away from his chest and dried her eyes.
"We'll be okay," she said weakly, more as a question to James and Sirius.
"You'll be fine," Sirius said, placing his hands on her shoulders comfortingly. "It's time to let go, you're bodies are suffering." Remus and Tonks both looked through the window, seeing their broken bodies, barely clinging to life and in immeasurable pain. Tonks nodded and clung to Remus's hand tightly, blinking back more tears.
"Where do we go?" Remus asked for instruction. James pointed down the corridor of the place they were in.
"We'll be with you the whole time," James said comfortingly as Remus and Tonks began to walk. They looked at one another and managed to smile.
"I love you," Tonks whispered.
"I love you too," Remus replied in equal tones.
If anyone looked through the window one last time, they would see Remus and Tonks lying beside one another on the ground, whispering the same words of comfort to one another before finally giving in to the pull of eternal rest.