A/N: Written for the March 2008 rt_challenge on LJ to the prompts: whole (Part One) and "There will come a time when believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning." – Louis L'Amour (Part Two). This two-part story is set within the Portalverse established in my previous story A Little More Time, a couple of years after the events in the Department of Mysteries. For anyone who hasn't read ALMT, the salient but SPOILERY facts you'll probably need to know for this story to make sense are that a year after the DH epilogue, Teddy Lupin, whilst employed as an Unspeakable in the Department of Mysteries, used a time Portal to rescue his parents an instant before their deaths and replaced their bodies in the past with fakes so that history (and canon ;p) would play out as it should. After much faff, the upshot was that Remus and Tonks, both technically still the same age they were when they "died", were able to pick up their lives twenty in the future. And that meant that Remus went back to teach at Hogwarts because that's where he belongs and Tonks returned to the Auror Department. Teddy, who was very much fired from the Ministry, was also employed as a teacher, in his case for History of Magic. That all sorted, off we go…
Family Ties by Jess Pallas
There was something oddly relaxing about the Easter holidays at Hogwarts.
Several of the other teachers had thought Remus mad when he'd ventured that opinion in the staff room a few days before. After all, Easter was the holiday when most students failed to go home, choosing to remain and, reputedly, study for their imminent exams and, aside from the absence of lessons, it was much like term-time, full of bustle and laughter and barely concealed flouting of the rules. But Remus had long been of the opinion that Hogwarts without students might as well not be Hogwarts at all – the castle was too eerie, too silent, too lifeless to feel comfortable in the summer and even Christmas, he recalled from his year as a live-in teacher, was just that touch too quiet. But Easter was a break without boredom, a paired down version of the job he loved that meant he could help the students and prepare for future classes while still having time to see plenty of his family in between. It formed a happy medium between the two parts of life he loved the most.
Neville Longbottom had nodded his agreement at that and even Headmaster Flitwick had conceded that he could see his point. But the other teachers had banded together and roundly concluded that he was barking.
The look on Alice Spindleshaft's face when she realised that yes, she had just used that term out loud to address a werewolf, had been worth the concession of the argument. It had taken him ten minutes of fending off stammered apologies to convince the Muggle Studies professor that he hadn't been the slightest bit offended. Five of those had been needed so he could stop laughing.
And it had been so easy to laugh. Years ago, before Dora, and before a trip through a temporal Portal had thrust him away from his own death and into a whole new life, he would never have been able to laugh so long, the laughter consumed by worries that he was making people uncomfortable, that the apology was motivated by fear, that they were wondering about his motives in wanting to stay with the children, that they and the children were watching him nervously behind his back. Or he'd have swallowed his laughter for fear they thought he was mocking them or even that he might be giving himself away. Concern about his condition, about people finding out what he was or people knowing and watching him with sharp, suspicious eyes had dogged every step of his life back then, for whether he'd wanted it to or not, he'd somehow always seemed to let it. And he'd said it didn't bother him and he'd smiled and joined in with the jokes but it had nagged at him right up until the day that a slightly pregnant Nymphadora Tonks had looked him in the eye after he'd returned, shamefaced, from Grimmauld Place and told him he was getting downright neurotic about his condition and that he needed to stop worrying about other people's opinions and start finding some of his own, for his child's sake if nothing else. Being a werewolf would only ruin his life if he decided to let it. And he'd known then that she had been right.
It had been easier to laugh after that. And easier still when he'd found himself twenty years away from the memory of Greyback and the war, with his wonderful wife and a brilliant and emphatically not lycanthropic grown-up son, given back the job he loved and surrounded by people who insisted on treating him like either a friend or some kind of war hero. With the memory of his strange reappearance fading with the passing of fresh years, he'd started to feel almost ordinary. Days, almost weeks at certain phases of the moon, would go by when he wouldn't even think about his condition. He knew that he could have no greater gift and every evening spent around a dinner table, chatting with Teddy about the latest shenanigans at Hogwarts or listening to Dora's updates on her latest investigations, left him feeling more like a human being than he'd ever thought was possible.
He felt whole. And the Easter holidays and all it represented, the merging of work and family and all the ordinary little things that made his life so extraordinarily wonderful, was relaxing. He didn't care if that made him figuratively barking or not.
With his Easter office hours tailored to match Dora's schedule, he'd had a wonderful few days so far. Half had been spent tutoring a few of his uncertain students and one or two of his more conscientious – Rose Weasley really could be alarmingly like her mother – and fending off the latest gambits in James Potter's unsuccessful but ongoing prank campaign to get one over on the last of the Marauders. The other half he'd spent with Dora, picnicking in the sunshine, shopping in Diagon Alley or just curled up together at home, enjoying the warmth and feel of each other and the comfort and passion of their love. It would have been nice if Teddy could have joined them, but his son had opted to whisk his girlfriend Victoire away to the magical quarter of Bruges for a few days to celebrate the rapid approach of his twenty-fourth birthday. It wasn't often that Teddy's Hogwarts commitments and Victoire's apprenticeship at St Mungo's fell so nicely into line and the young couple had been unashamedly eager for some private time.
Remus couldn't blame them. Much as he loved his son, it was nice sometimes to have a little more time alone with his wife. And although he was looking forward to Teddy's return that evening, he could also feel a strong tug of anticipation regarding his pending afternoon alone with Dora. Her annual Auror Department physical had thwarted their plans of a whole day together but she'd promised him that on the stroke of midday, she would be waiting in the Three Broomsticks and most emphatically all his. The possibilities that had danced in her dark eyes as she'd winked over her shoulder and headed out of the door had occupied his thoughts for most of the rest of the morning.
But his last batch of unmarked essays were calling and, with noon still over an hour away, Remus had felt compelled to answer. It was mostly uneventful; he'd noted that Columbine McMillan would most likely need an extra tutoring session on Dark Artefacts before her OWLs and James Potter's essay had leapt up, folded itself into a paintbrush and made an emphatic but ultimately futile attempt to paint paisley patterns on his robes. Remus had Charmed it down without breaking a sweat and, with a small smile, wrote the words must try harder in red ink at the bottom. He'd always tried to encourage innovation and James was nothing if not imaginative. Remus rather looked forward to the day when he would actually be caught out. He strongly suspected Harry would be quite proud.
The pile went down quickly. His OWL students were a fairly competent bunch and their handwriting was only moderately challenging to interpret. The clock on the mantle of his fireplace marked the passing of minutes as the final hour before midday and whatever delights his wife had in store for him slipped away, quarter past, what would she be wearing – Sebastian Hardcastle, good understanding of curse breaking theory – half past, where would they go - Agrippina Gamp, a little too focussed on the placing of curses, rather than their detection or removal – quarter to, what would they do - Isis Forest, excellent work, well thought out – and so it was that he was just rounding off his final comments on June Boot's missive – well written but lacking a little in detail – and wondering what shade his wife's hair was likely to be when he rather abruptly got an answer.
The door to his office burst open. There stood Dora, her eyes wide, her face pale and her hair limp and alarmingly brown. She stared at him in mute horror for a moment, before launching herself abruptly into the room. He barely had time to get up and out from behind his desk before she flung herself into his arms.
"Oh, Remus!" she exclaimed, burying her head into his shoulder as her brown locks ticked his cheek and nose. "Oh Remus, I've really messed up!"
Alarm was coursing through Remus in chilly waves as he tightened his grasp upon his wife. Was it about this afternoon? Did she have to work after all? But surely she wouldn't be so upset about a scheduling mix up…
Well, all he could do was ask. "Messed up what?" he said gently, if a little urgently against the top of her head. "What on earth's the matter?" The cold turned abruptly glacial. "Is this about your physical? Did they find something wrong? Dora!"
"It's not wrong, exactly." Her tone of voice, muffled as it was by her face being pressed against his neck, nonetheless offered no comfort. "But it's stupid and my fault and it'll affect everything and I'll have to stop work again and I know we talked about it and said that we probably would someday but we'd have to talk to Teddy, but we haven't and no matter what he says I know he'll be upset and…" She huffed sharply against his skin before launching herself back into babble. "Oh, this is all my fault! I thought that potion tasted a bit funny when I drank it, do you remember, I said! But you were sat there looking so bloody sexy and it was the last bottle I had and I convinced myself it would all be fine…"
"Dora!" Remus' sharp exclamation was enough to lift his wife's head, her dark eyes meeting his and spilling out such a vivid confusion of emotions that it almost made his head spin. "For goodness sake, please tell me what's wrong!"
He saw it. He saw the answer in her eyes an instant before her lips parted and softly said again the words that had once rocked his world to its core.