D/C: I don't own Harry Potter.

Well...I've been wanting to write this little one-shot for a while now, but for some reason it was tossed back into my pile of pending plot bunnies. So, I went back to that little dark corner in the back of my head and rummaged through the pile because I wanted something to write and this one bunny jumped out at me! It latched itself to my leg and wouldn't let go no matter how hard I tried to shake it off! So, here is that bunny now, in the form of a story, which I sincerely hope you'll like. Happy Reading!

Welcome Home

Silence.

It was strange. He could distinctly hear the screams and crashes and curses in his head, but all around him there was silence. Peaceful and tranquil silence. But it didn't have a calming effect on him. Rather, it left him feeling restless and wary. He was almost afraid to open his eyes and see why everything had gone silent.

Remus Lupin let his hands roam. He seemed to be lying on a smooth and cool surface. It was also apparently very clean and spotless, because nothing coarse came underneath his palms. Where was he? The last he remembered he was definitely outside Hogwarts, duelling with Dolohov...and the Grounds were anything but smooth. There was grass and dirt and rubble. Had he been captured and moved somewhere else?

He debated the idea of sitting upright and taking a look around. He was probably going to find it painful to move because the Death Eater had probably inflicted a lot of wounds upon him, and he doubted he'd see anything because wherever the Death Eaters were keeping him, it wasn't going to be well-lit. On the other hand, it might be a good idea to explore his surroundings.

Taking in a deep, shuddering breath, Remus opened his eyes. But he closed them almost immediately when he was struck by how bright the place was. His heart pounded; that didn't feel or look remotely right. He took in another gulp of air and paused - he hadn't noticed until now, but the air he was breathing was so fresh and sweet-smelling. That was odd; the air back in the Hogwarts Grounds wasn't remotely fresh, and the odour it carried had made his stomach lurch due to its staleness. It was the odour of death.

Slowly, he pried his eyes open. He let them adjust to the brightness of the place by opening them little by little. He blinked a few times. He frowned. Everywhere he looked was white. The ceiling was entirely white. He turned his head sideways to the left and saw white. He turned it to the right and saw pure white. He propped himself up on his elbows and looked ahead of him - all white.

His chest constricted with fear. Where am I?

Remus sat upright, letting his eyes wander. He wondered what this white place was. He wondered if his mind was playing games with him. Either way, he really didn't like it. He tried to recall what had last happened. He was duelling with Dolohov. Spells and curses were shooting left and right. People were running, scampering, fleeing for their lives. Giants thrashed their long arms and destroyed trees and walls, sending people flying. Bodies everywhere. Death Eaters marching like they owned the place. Remus fought. He wanted to take Dolohov down and move on to the next Death Eater. He wanted this war to be over.

"Remus!!"

He knew that voice. He recognized it well. It registered itself in his mind, picture and shape. It took the form of a heart-shaped face, big and bright eyes, small button-like nose, pouty pink lips, and bright purple hair. It took the form of his wife's face. Dora. It was Dora.

He looked sideways, and there she was. Tonks was just stepping out through the Main Gate. She looked frantic, terrified. What was she doing here? He had ordered her to stay back. He made to move towards her. His eyes widened when a figure with long, straggly black hair stepped before his wife, wand brandished. Bellatrix. It was Bellatrix.

"Tonks!"

And then...then what happened? Remus blinked once. Twice. He shook himself out of his reverie. He looked down at his hands. They were white and clean. Funny, he vaguely remembered that they'd been coarse and scratched those past few months. Dora was always complaining about how coarse they were, especially when they were in bed.

"I should get you some hand lotion, Remus, honestly!" she used to tell him.

A smile touched his lips at that memory, but it faded just as quickly as it had appeared. Tonks. His beloved Dora, where was she? What had Bellatrix done with her? All thoughts concerning this strange white place he was in vanished as he scrambled up to his feet. He looked around wildly, looking for some sort of exit. He had to go back. He had to go back and help her out.

He ran across the white room, his footsteps echoing loudly against the emptiness of the place. He ran on and on. He thought he was going to run out of breath soon, but strangely he wasn't. He imagined his knees might start to ache but they didn't. And still he didn't reach an exit. He turned and ran in another direction.

Tears well blurring his vision but he fought them back. He wanted to call out for her but his throat was tight. He felt a rising sense of panic building up inside him. What was this endless whiteness? Who brought him here?

He collapsed to his knees and gave free reign to his tears. They flowed down his cheeks and made little puddles on the white floor, making it look dirty. His hands balled into fists and he banged them against the white floor, willing it to break and let him pass through.

He thought he heard something.

Footsteps?

Two pairs of footsteps, actually.

He slowly got up to his feet. He reached aimlessly into the folds of his robes for his wand, but it wasn't anywhere to be found. He thought of hiding but immediately banished that idea with a low snort; and where was he to hide in this bloody emptiness? He stood on his guard, wondering who it was that was coming towards him. The footsteps became louder and he looked left and right for the source of those footsteps but he couldn't see anyone or anything.

When someone tapped him on the shoulder he jumped out of his skin. He scrambled forward and only halted when he heard laughter.

"Told you he was going to be scared."

"You're such an arse. Can't you see the state he's in, and you still scare him?"

Remus couldn't believe his ears. He recognized those two voices. He hadn't heard them in quite a while but he would still recognize them anywhere. However, that knowledge wasn't comforting in the least. Was he hallucinating? Had he lost his mind? He turned around so slowly you would've thought his hinges needed oiling. His jaw nearly dropped.

There they stood, two fully-grown men who looked exactly like James and Sirius. But those two looked well. The last he'd seen them James needed a shave, new glasses and tonnes of sleep to get rid of those bags underneath his eyes, and Sirius needed a haircut, a shave, a trimmed moustache, new and clean clothes and a huge appetite to fill up those sallow cheeks of his.

The Sirius and James standing before him were in their Hogwarts' glory. They looked exactly how they were when they graduated - two tall, strong and good-looking men who gave off the impression of elegance and proud arrogance. They looked young. They looked happy. Remus didn't remember the last time he'd seen either of them happy.

"You...you..." he whispered.

James smiled warmly at him and held out his arms, pulling Remus close and embracing him like a brother. Remus was stunned. James felt real. He felt his arms around him, his hands resting on his back, he felt the warmth of his body and his breath on his neck. He was real. Remus wasn't hallucinating. At least he didn't think he was.

"Welcome home, Moony," James murmured.

And it clicked. All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and formed a clear picture. Remus was dead. Dolohov had killed him during that battle. He had taken advantage of his moment of distraction and killed him off. Remus was dead. He had died and moved on to the afterlife where James and Sirius were.

His mind was momentarily blank.

He let out a howl of anguish and buried his face in James's shoulder, clutching the back of his sweet-smelling clothes as he did. He was dead. He was never going to see Dora or Teddy again. He had hoped to grow old with her, he had hoped to see his son going to school, he had hoped to have many other kids with his wife and...

Oh, how he wished he'd told her how much he loved her more. She was always telling him, "I love you, Remus," to which he'd respond with a quick smile before darting out on Order business. How he wished he'd held her between his arms and kissed her often. He would do anything to see her again, to hold her again, to kiss her again...

"I'm dead?" he croaked.

"Yep," Sirius said cheerfully.

"I don't wish to be dead," he said stubbornly. He sounded like such a child, a stubborn child who didn't want to be sent up to his room, or didn't want to finish his homework.

"Join the club, mate," Sirius said dryly. "None of us wished to die."

Remus snorted despite his tears. "At least I died a hero's death; you were killed by drapery," he mused.

"I did not get...!" Sirius exploded. He threw up his arms and looked imploringly at James. "Jamie, tell him! I wasn't killed by drapery! That realm was terrifying...oy! Stop laughing! I wasn't killed by drapery, I tell you! I died a hero's death, too!"

Remus was bent over as he laughed. His chest hurt and tears still flowed freely down his cheeks. He was torn between joy and misery. He was in a situation where he found that he was happy to die because death meant that he could be between his friends again, while another part of him was feeling wretched because he wouldn't be able to hold his wife and kid again for an eternity. Such a sardonic thing, death was.

"Listen..." James said suddenly.

The voice seemed so faraway and tiny, but it rang in Remus's ears. It rang and rang until it was magnified to triple its amplitude. He was able to hear it clearly. The voice was flat...but he was able to sense that it was broken.

"I'm about to die."

It echoed around the room. It echoed until the room seemed to shake. And amidst the words Remus heard thundering footsteps and he looked up to see Lily, ablaze with anger, striding forward with her red her streaming down her back, her green eyes flashing, her cheeks flushed. She looked young. She looked beautiful. She hugged him briefly when she arrived, kissing him twice on the cheek before turning to clutch at James's arm.

"It's Harry," she said hoarsely.

James sighed heavily. "I know, sweetheart," he replied.

Sirius shifted his weight to his other leg. "I was hoping this moment would never come," he said gloomily. He rubbed the back of his neck. "Shall we go and fetch him?"

As one, James and Lily nodded their heads. Lily looked around at Remus and smiled warmly at him. "You deserve a better welcome, Remus, but it's Harry," she said, her eyes gleaming with suppressed tears. "It's Harry."

"Don't be stupid, Lily. You know I'm coming with you," Remus said firmly.

Lily beamed at him. She held out her hand for him and he reached out to grasp it. "Nymphadora told me to say hello to you, by the way," she said softly.

Remus stared at her, shocked. She didn't need to elaborate, he understood what she meant right away. He didn't know what to think of that at the moment, and he only reacted by tightening his grip around her hand and giving her a lopsided grin. "Don't call her Nymphadora, Lily, she'd hate you for it," he chided her. "It's Tonks."

-

A/N: There we go! All done! I had trouble figuring out where to stop, but Tearlit helped me decide, so a round of thanks should go to her! I don't know if I did the scene justice but it should do, I guess. Please let me know what you thought of it! Thank you!

- S. N. B.