A/N. Oh my, I am so sorry this has taken so long. This is the last chapter of this tale, I hope that you enjoy it. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed, added to favourites or alerts or just read and enjoyed. Especial thanks, as always, to my lovely beta LoveHGSS without whom this wouldn't be what it is.
Hermione walked up to the gate of the neat little grey stone cottage in Yorkshire that Andromeda and Ted Tonks had called home before they died in the war. There were roses growing up and around the door, the gravel path from the green painted gated twisted between flowerbeds in full bloom. It was a picture perfect little house, somehow too precise for the chaotic metamorphmagus who was currently living there.
She paused, one hand on the gate as she took in the house. For a moment she could see the picture Tonks had dreamt of, a small child playing on the grass, the windows open and laughter drifting out, the warmth and peace that would surely accompany such a scene almost tangible in the air. For a second, the image was so clear that Hermione was overcome with sorrow for the other witch, for the future she would never have.
She shook her head, knowing that her sympathy was misplaced, that Tonks had put herself in this situation by walking away from Remus, for calling him a monster and chasing after greener grass. Tonks had chosen her future and Hermione had to fight for her own, not to let the other witch take advantage of her kind heart.
With renewed determination, Hermione rapped sharply on the door, her spine straight and her eyes sparkling with righteous indignation.
Tonks sneered as she saw who was stood on her doorstep, her voice mocking as she spoke, making her sound terrifyingly like her mad aunt, Bellatrix.
"I suppose you've come to beg me to change my mind? To tell me that I'm not really like this, and I don't want to do this, and all the other nonsense people like you spout, assuming that I'm a bleeding heart do-gooder deep down inside? Well forget it, sweetie. I am going to do this. I meant what I said; you're not playing happy families with my baby. If I can't have Remus, neither can you."
Hermione just looked at the older woman, no trace of any pity she may have felt visible on her face or in her eyes. "Are you finished?" she asked coldly. "Because I'm not here to beg or anything of the sort. I'm here to tell you that Remus and I can and will make our own decisions regarding our relationship, because you have no grounds to object to me being in the child's life, and you can't carry out your threat."
"Oh, really, I can."
Hermione sighed. "I don't mean you are incapable of carrying it out, I mean it's illegal. If there's nothing wrong with you or the baby, and there's someone who will raise it safely, then you can't terminate. If you do, you'll lose your job, and face Azkaban."
The colour drained from Tonks' face as Hermione spoke.
"You're bluffing; you think you can make me change my mind by spouting a load of official sounding crap. Well, nice try but it's not going to work," Tonks sneered.
"Actually, Percy Weasley happens to know a fair bit about this particular set of laws, and he told me how this works."
"Like I believe that. Perfect Percy wouldn't know the ins and outs of abortion laws; what possible need could he have to? You think you can manipulate me the way you manipulate everyone. Strutting around like you're Merlin reincarnated, little Miss Perfect who knows everything about everything, the brains behind Harry Potter, the girl who practically saved the Wizarding World single handed. That's what you let everyone think, isn't it. Well I don't buy it, I never have. You're just a silly little girl trying to play with the big boys, and this time you've lost. You're going to have to play it my way."
"Do you really think I'd make something like this up just to try and stop you? You might lie your way through your life, twisting things round until they suit you without a second thought for anyone else, but I'm not you. I'm nothing like you, and that's why you'll never understand me and it's why you'll never win this fight," Hermione said.
"Alright, suppose you are telling the truth and I won't terminate the pregnancy. I can still state that Remus won't get custody if he's with you."
"On what grounds?" Hermione enquired. "I have a good job, no criminal record, and no history of health problems. Plus, like you just said, I'm the brains of the Golden Trio." Hermione smirked, even though she couldn't believe she was playing on the hated moniker. "Who wouldn't trust me with a child?"
The two women stared at each other, dislike clear in their gazes, Tonks having no response to Hermione's statement. After a long moment, Tonks took a step back and slammed the door, leaving Hermione stood on the step.
"Well, that went well," Hermione murmured to herself before heading back to the alley she had Apparated to.
I suppose you're busy gloating now.
Enjoy your perfect little picture while it lasts, it won't for long. I loved you once too, she'll see who you really are and you'll wish you hadn't turned me away.
"Hermione?" Remus called as he stepped out of the fireplace and into her flat. "Are you here?"
"Remus, what are you doing here?" Hermione asked as she came out of the kitchen.
"I was wondering what this meant," he replied, his voice expressionless as he held out a piece of parchment.
Hermione frowned as she read the note.
"Remus. You can't believe that I'd treat you like she did. I'm not like that, I'm not her." Her voice cracked slightly as she spoke, tears pooling in her eyes. She'd been through too much today to cope with Remus doubting her.
His expression softened as he pulled her into his arms.
"I don't mean that part. I mean where she says I've won. How have I won when she's holding my happiness ransom with my own child?"
"Um, actually, that's sort of thanks to Percy."
"Percy?" Remus asked, confusion clear in his voice.
"Percy happens to be a bigger know it all even than I am. Which means that he knew that Tonks can't hurt the child, or stop us being together, or any of the things she said."
He looked at her for a long moment, his face expressionless. "Are you sure?"
Hermione nodded. "Turns out that Percy has been researching laws around children and things for work, and he was still at the Burrow when I went back after I left your house. He clarified a few points for me."
"And Dora knows this because..?"
"Because I went and told her. Remus, it doesn't matter what happens now. If you and I don't make it to the end of the week, if it turns out that we drive each other crazy and end up being barely civil acquaintances because our relationship ends horribly like in some bad Muggle soap opera, they'll be our mistakes and our choices, and that's what counts."
Remus stared at her for a moment, amusement in his eyes before clutching her to him, spinning her through the air and kissing her hard.
"You wonderful, amazing, beautiful woman. You've given me a chance at life again."
Hermione laughed. "Actually, Percy has. But I don't think he'd appreciate it if you thank him how you just thanked me."
Remus grimaced. "Um, maybe not. I'll buy him a pint sometime."
Hermione laughed, her giggles turning into squeals as Remus swung her into his arms and headed towards her bedroom.
"Remus!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing?"
He looked down at her, his expression angelic as his eyes twinkled. "Showing you how grateful I am."
"Don't you have things to do? For the baby or whatever?"
"I have six months or so for all that. Right now I'm showing you how much I love you."
Hermione froze in his arms, and then twisted until her feet were on the floor. Remus looked away, not sure what her reaction meant.
"How much you love me?" she asked, her voice quiet.
"Yes," Remus breathed, still not meeting her gaze.
"Good." Hermione lifted her fingers to his face and tilted his head so she could look into his eyes. "Because once you're done showing me how much you love me, I can show you how much I love you."
Without giving him a moment to reply, she pressed her lips against his, kissing him fiercely, pressed so tight against him there was no space at all between them.
They stood in her dim hallway, tightly held in each other's arms, knowing, somehow, that their lives had come full circle, and they had finally found the love they had longed for. They knew that people would comment on his lycanthropy, on her age, on how quickly it had come about, but it made no difference.
It that moment everything was glistening. No more shadows for their hearts, no more fear, no more doubt. They had each other, and deep down knew they always would.