Chapter 34.

The End of the Beginning.

Elena felt an icy chill grab at her heart, pushing back some of the glorious warmth it had been suffused with only seconds before.  She allowed herself to be led back toward her desk.  Remus noticed her scribblings and research notes strewn over the desk top.

"What's all this?" he asked, his tone astonished.

"It doesn't matter right now," Elena replied faintly, "Tell me what you have to say first."  She looked and felt grey and hollowed.  She did not think she would breathe again until she had heard Remus's news.

He looked slightly pained, which did nothing for her state of mind.  "Please - sit down," he said gently, guiding her into her chair and pulling one up to sit beside her.  He kept hold of her hand, and took a deep breath.

"I still hardly know myself whether the things I have discovered are good news or bad," he began, "Both, I suppose.  But all that I can do is tell you what has happened.  I traced a werewolf by the name of Jack Harrington.  Jack is somewhat unique amongst the few werewolves I have known in that he married a witch, a Miss Benita Upworth, a little over thirty years ago."  He heard Elena's sharp intake of breath.

"And is she - ?"

Remus shook his head.  "No," he said carefully, "She has never shown any sign of contracting the Curse herself."

Elena felt intensely light headed.  "Then she -  Then we - "

Remus winced slightly and held up one hand.  "There is more that you should know.  Even though Mrs Harrington assures me that she is very happy in her marriage, their life has not been easy.  There have been several close calls on nights of the full moon.  There has been prejudice, sometimes to the point of victimisation, in every wizarding community they have tried to settle in.  It has been difficult for her to watch her husband suffer and know that during all the darkest moments of his life, she can not be there with him.  But most of all … there has been the issue of children."

Remus paused to let that sink in.  Elena stared straight ahead, but he had the feeling she wasn't really seeing him.  "Children," she repeated numbly.  She hadn't even considered that difficulty.  She had just assumed, somehow, that…  that what?  That they were a given?  That once she and Remus found a way to be together themselves, all other aspects of their life would just follow naturally?  Easily?  She should have known better.  When had anything in this life ever come to her easily?

"You want children, don't you Elena."  It was more of a statement than a question, and the words seemed to squeeze from his throat as though he had difficultly speaking them aloud.

Elena closed her eyes.  What point was there in lying?

"Yes.  Yes, I would like children."  It hurt to say it.  Of course she wanted children.  Her family had been taken from her.  She knew what it meant to be alone in the world.  She wanted half a dozen children, little girls that looked like Dawne or her mother, and boys to echo her father and Remus.

Remus nodded, his head slightly bowed.  It was a confirmation of what he already knew.  Not only knew, but understood.  Some deep part of him was forever dictated by the instincts of the Wolf, and the urge to create a family, a pack of his own to raise and protect, was a powerful force.

"Benita and Jack wanted children, too," he said heavily.  "Lots of children.  Benita told me that in the end, she began no less than eleven pregnancies.  Nine times, she miscarried before the fourth month.  Always on nights when the moon was full.  According to the Mediwizards, the babies that died had inherited their father's Curse, and were affected by the Change even from within the womb.  They were too fragile to bear it, though, and died before full term."  He swallowed hard, and forced himself to meet Elena's gaze.  "A dead baby isn't an easy thing to cope with," he said roughly, "And Benita endured it nine times.  Could you endure it, Elena?  Could I endure watching you go through it?  Could we survive it?"

Elena blinked slowly, causing an overflow of tears to spill down her cheeks.  She raised her hand to Remus's face placed her palm on his check, stroking a thumb beneath his eye.  It came away damp.  "You said… eleven pregnancies?"  She managed to ask, her voice almost as hoarse as his.

He nodded, raising his head slightly.  "Two children did survive.  Two boys.  Grown up now, and moved away.  They show no sign of any Curse… although Jack says they do have an unusually good sense of smell."

In spite of herself, Elena grinned weakly at his joke.  "Oh Remus…" she whispered, half in sadness, half in joy.  Unhappy with the distance between them, she got to her feet and climbed into his lap, huddling as close as she could against the comfort of his body.  His arms wrapped around her and he rocked her gently, as though she were a child herself.

An interminable measure of time passed, during which they heard nothing but the slow, soft sounds of one another's breaths and heart beats.  Finally Elena pulled her wand from her sleeve and summoned the red rose he had given her not more than an hour before, although it felt like days.  It flew into her hands with a little too much force, and she pricked her palm on one of its many thorns.  A speck of red blood welled up, and she licked it quickly away.

Then she simply stared at it.  It was beautiful.  The wonderful bittersweet scent of it drifted up to her, and she breathed deeply.  It smelt alive.  It smelt like hope.  And she smiled very faintly through her drying tears.

"That rose won't ever die, you know," came Remus's soft voice from just above her.  "For as long as I live, it will endure.  I'm not sure what will happen when I die.  I can't imagine it fading even then."  She looked up, leaning back slightly so that she could meet his gaze directly.  He looked very serious, as though reading her face for signs that she understood.

She did.

She kissed him, very softly.

"I know," she replied quietly, a small smile in her voice.  "I intend to take very good care of it."

He took her hand in his and turned it over to expose the short streak of blood on her palm.  "You know it has thorns," he said gravely.

She smiled again, more widely this time.  "Thorns, yes it does.  But it also has beautiful beautiful petals," she pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth, "And it smells divine," she buried her face in the crook of his neck and happily inhaled all the heady scents that she associated with him.  Finally she lifted his own hand to her lips, and kissed his palm.  "And I love it," she concluded matter-of-factly, "And I couldn't give it up even if you asked me to."  Her voice softened, "So please Remus - don't ask me to."

He stared at her for a moment, as though gauging the depth of her sincerity.  She held his gaze without wavering.

Suddenly, as though something had finally been decided for good, he caught her chin in his hand and kissed her deeply and fiercely.  When he broke away, Elena had the dizzying impression that she had just been irrecoverably marked, and claimed for life.

"I love you," he said, with such certainty and force that she felt a little overwhelmed.

"I know," she answered quietly, even though she felt like weeping for the joy of it.  "I know."

With a calmness she did not feel, she laid her head back down on his chest, and linked her hands around his neck.  Both were still for a very long time.

Outside, through the thick glass of the library windows, a cold silver half-moon was setting over the craggy peaks of distant mountains.  But of the two embracing forms within the castle tower, neither the Werewolf nor the Charmer noticed it at all.

THE END.

Author's Final Note: …how sad to write that – 'final note'.  I quite liked Elena, even though I was getting pretty jealous of her toward the end there.  Well, I hope you enjoyed this story.  If you did or you didn't, I'd sincerely love to hear about it, so go on and review – if it helps, I dare you to.  I'm working on two other Harry Potter fics, but I'm trying to hold on to them til they're finished this time, rather than posting in fits and starts.  I'm afraid they won't be about Remus and Elena though.  I wouldn't like to put them through anything more than what they have already been through.  I imagine their future will have some tragedies left in it, but they will always have each other now, I'm certain of that.  And Remus will never be alone, ever again.  The End.  Really the end, now.  See ya, and thanks for reading.