Disclaimer: Characters contained within do not belong to me.
Author's Notes: Thank you. It's been my pleasure to tell this story and I so, so hope you've enjoyed reading it. Until next time...
Of Nymphs and Wolves
by Kristen Elizabeth
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his child the richest inheritance. - Ruth E. Renkel
On the day of his parents' funeral, Teddy Lupin met Harry Potter for the first time.
From the moment Harry woke up at the Burrow on that dreary morning, he wasn't sure he could make it through another burial, especially a double one. Fred Weasley had been laid to rest the day before and the service had nearly ripped out his heart.
And now it was time to say goodbye to Tonks and Lupin, two of Harry's favorite people in the world. Not only had they taught him invaluable lessons and come to his aid in battle more than once, but they had made him godfather to their baby boy. It was going to be an excruciating day.
After a very quiet breakfast, Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys caught a Portkey to the cemetery where so many other heroes of Hogwarts had been buried in the week following Voldemort's defeat. Chairs were already set up and mostly filled with mourners. The remainder of the Order of the Phoenix, Professor McGonagall and Professor Sprout, the unmistakable bulk of Hagrid, Bill and Fleur, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom...Harry was grateful to see them all, but wondered if there would ever come a day when they weren't all gathered for a funeral.
A tent hung suspended in the air as a precaution against the cloudy grey sky. Twin coffins lay side by side beneath it, just as Harry had seen their occupants lying in the Great Hall. One was covered with pink peonies; the other bore a simple, but elegant arrangement of white lilies. In between the coffins stood a large, moving portrait of Tonks holding a tiny infant with a tuft of blue hair. Lupin's arm was around her as he smiled down at them both.
Harry swallowed back a lump in his throat. Just then, like she knew he needed a distraction, Ginny came up behind him and slipped her hand into his. "Isn't that Mrs. Tonks over there?" she asked.
He followed her eyes and saw Andromeda sitting in the first row of chairs. She wore all black, except for her hat which was pink. There was a baby carrier in the seat next to hers; she was rocking it gently, but mechanically.
"Yeah. And that must be Teddy." Harry was surprised at the dullness of his voice. Shouldn't he be eager to see his godson? Why was his stomach so suddenly unsettled?
Hermione approached them with Ron trailing closely behind. Her eyes were already red with unshed tears. "I think they're getting ready to start, Harry."
"You okay, mate?" Ron asked.
Harry tore his hand away from Ginny's in order to shove his fists into his pockets. He could feel the crumpled piece of parchment that had kept him awake until the early hours of dawn against his knuckles. "Fine." He nodded to a few empty seats in the second row. "Shall we?"
Hermione gave Ginny a sad smile of encouragement after Harry strode off. "Professor Lupin was his first real link to his parents," she reminded Ginny. "And I think...maybe it's hard for him that he couldn't stop Voldemort before he made someone else an orphan."
Ginny sniffed delicately. "I just want to be there for him. Like he was for me yesterday."
Ron patted his sister's shoulder. "He'll come 'round, sis. Trust us."
After taking a moment to collect herself, Ginny nodded. Together, the three of them followed Harry and took their seats for the funeral.
When Kingsley Shacklebot asked Charlie Weasley to come to the podium, Harry was puzzled. He hadn't realized the second oldest Weasley knew either Tonks or Lupin all that well.
Ginny, seeming to sense his confusion, leaned closer to him. "Did you know they dated in school? Charlie and Tonks?" When Harry shook his head, she added, "It wasn't for long. Mum always thought she'd be better for Bill, anyway."
"So did we for a long time," Hermione confessed.
"Well, we didn't know she fancied Lupin, did we?"
At the podium, Charlie cleared his throat and the girls quickly hushed up.
"I met Tonks on the Hogwarts Express when we were eleven. She bet me a Sickle that she could turn her nose into an elephant's trunk. Needless to say, I lost."
A ripple of amusement ran through the rows.
"But my loss turned into a profitable enterprise. Sorry, Mum, but we spent the rest of the term tricking older students out of their parents' hard-earned money. No one believed that a first year could pull off a spell like that."
Charlie paused for a second, as if gathering his thoughts. "Tonks was always extraordinary. Funny. Brave. Fearless. She could have been with me in Gryffindor, but I think the Sorting Hat knew that underneath everything else, Tonks was fantastically loyal. I wasn't all surprised to learn that she'd joined the Order. It just was so...well, so Tonks. Doing what her heart told her was right, while thoroughly enjoying thumbing her nose at the Ministry."
"The last time I spoke with her was at my brother's wedding. I asked if she was happy and she told me..." He expelled a pent-up breath. "She told me she didn't want to change her face anymore...because she'd finally realized exactly who she was always meant to be. I thought she meant a wife, which I never would have expected I'd hear her say. But then I learned she was going to be a mother."
Charlie glanced at the picture of Tonks and Lupin. "I loved Tonks...but I loved dragons more. I used to wonder if I'd made the right choice between the two, but I figure everything ended up as it should...because look at her." He gestured to the photograph just as Tonks proudly beamed up at Lupin when Teddy waved his little fists. "Just look at her..."
Blinking, he refocused. "I will never forget that tiny, pink-haired girl with an elephant's nose. And like a lot of you out there, I will be so grateful that not only was she my friend, but that she gave her life for all of ours." Charlie lifted his shoulders. "So like a Hufflepuff."
If Harry hadn't been staring straight forward, fighting with the lump in his throat, he would have seen Hermione and Ginny leaning on each other as they quietly cried. Ron's eyes were lowered, but from the way his Adam's apple was bobbing, he was fighting the same battle as Harry.
As Charlie walked back to his seat, he paused at the caskets just long enough to tuck a silver Sickle underneath the peonies.
It started raining as Kingsley turned his attention to Harry. With a nod of encouragement from Ginny and a wobbly smile from Hermione, Harry stood up on weak knees and slowly walked to the podium.
His hands shook as he unfolded the bit of parchment from his pocket. It was barely even legible; there were ink blots and countless spelling errors. After staring at it for a long minute, Harry finally gave up and looked out at the mourners. Breathing deeply to gather courage, he began to speak.
"It's funny, but I met Lupin on the Hogwarts Express, too." His eyes shifted to Ron and Hermione. "I expect a lot of the best friendships start there." Harry could see Hermione's lower lip start to tremble, so he rushed on, "But Lupin was my teacher and he was brilliant. When he came to Hogwarts, we'd gone two years without learning much in Defense class. He changed all of that."
Harry refused to look at the baby carrier next to Andromeda as he continued. He just wasn't ready yet.
"Lupin had this fantastic way of teaching. He made class fun. All of us...we couldn't wait to see what he'd come up with every week. But Lupin taught me so much more than how to fight a boggart or a grindylow. He got me to face my greatest fear and showed me how to conquer it."
Harry looked back down at his notes, but he could barely see the words through a film of hot tears. "In a way, he also gave me my parents. Where everyone else just seemed to revere them, Lupin actually knew them. He made them more real for me. If that makes any sense, at all."
After momentarily removing his glasses in order to scrub his sleeve across his eyes, Harry went on, "One of the things I want to see change after all of this is the way we look at people who are different. Lupin was a werewolf, through absolutely no fault of his own, and very few people ever gave him a chance because of it. If they didn't fear him outright, they did everything they could to make things difficult for him." Harry could feel anger bubbling up in his chest, hot and acidic. "He should have been an Auror or at least had a permanent post at Hogwarts. Instead, he..."
Out in the chairs, Hermione gave a slight shake of her head. It wasn't the time or the place. With that one gesture, Harry stopped and collected himself.
"Sirius Black told me once that it wasn't fair that he got to spend so much time with my parents and I never did. I guess someday I'll say the same thing to Lupin's son. Because it isn't fair. It really isn't." He paused for a long moment. "But I think...I mean, I'm only guessing, of course...but maybe he didn't mind dying as much because he knew the world was going to be better. Happier."
After another long pause, Harry finished, "I just wish he and Tonks were here to see it."
He didn't remember walking back to his seat, but once he was there, Ginny reached for his hand again. This time, he let her take it and he didn't let go through the rest of the service.
With a wave of his wand, Kingsley lowered the caskets into the ground. Another flick sent a gentle cascade of damp earth raining into each grave until they were filled. This seemed to be a signal that the funeral was over; the mourners started to disperse, either Disapparating or heading for the Portkeys that would take them to the reception.
Harry, however, had one last thing to do.
"Go on without me," Harry told Ginny. To reassure her, he gave her a kiss. "I won't be long."
Still, Ginny hesitated until Hermione and Ron urged her towards the Portkey. She glanced over her shoulder all the way there, though, until Harry was out of her sight.
Back at the graves, Harry wasn't the only one who had stayed behind. Andromeda was still sitting in the front row, practically in the exact same position, like she hadn't moved through the entire service.
Harry approached her carefully. "Mrs. Tonks?"
She spoke without ever looking away from the mound of dirt under which her daughter now rested. "Hello, Harry. Lovely to see you again."
Coming around in front of her, Harry got his first look at Tonks and Lupin's son. Teddy had fallen asleep during the funeral; his head was covered with a knitted cap and matching miniscule mittens and socks kept his hands and feet warm.
"I think he looks like his dad."
"Time will tell." Andromeda blinked and swung the full weight of her stare onto the boy. "I intend to raise him, Harry. You are his godfather...it's what they both wanted...but you're also seventeen. You're not prepared to care for an infant."
"Oh, I know that." Harry pushed his hand through his unruly hair. "I don't even know how to be a godfather! I mean..." He lifted his slumped shoulders. "What should I do?"
"You tell him, Harry." When he glanced at her, Andromeda continued, "You tell him everything. You make sure he knows his parents as if he'd grown up with them."
Teddy opened and closed his fists in his sleep. Unconsciously, Harry reached out to touch the baby's tiny fist. Even through a layer of knitted wool, Teddy grabbed his godfather's finger in a tight grip.
Andromeda watched the Boy Who Lived Again as the beginnings of a smile touched his eyes, turning them into emeralds.
"When he's ready, Harry...when he can handle it, you tell him that what they did...it was for him." She reached out and touched a tiny curl of dark hair that had escaped Teddy's cap. "Help him understand that they would do it all again if it meant his safety and happiness."
After a moment of silence, Harry nodded.
Teddy yawned, blinked and flexed his palm, releasing Harry's finger. Andromeda lifted him out of the carrier and offered him to Harry.
"Oh...I've never..." he started to protest.
"You'll have to get used to holding him if you intend to visit him. You will visit him," she said, looking him straight in the eye. "Won't you?"
Harry hesitated another second before gingerly taking Teddy from his grandmother. It was all the answer she needed.
"Support his head," Andromeda advised. "Like that, yes."
He couldn't believe how light the baby was or how terrifying something so small and cute could be, but with Andromeda's help, Harry settled Teddy into the crook of his arm. Teddy's gleeful smile rounded his chubby cheeks. He showed absolutely no signs of discomfort or stranger anxiety or fear. He just seemed happy, even in this place, with his parents buried beneath the ground.
"Do you think..." Harry's throat stuck, so he tried again. "Do you think he knows they're gone?"
Andromeda closed her eyes, like the question hurt. When she opened them again, her lashes were wet. "I think maybe part of him does, or at least feels that things are different now. But babies this young...they forget so quickly." She busied herself with tugging Teddy's right sock back into place, but Harry heard her murmur, "Not like us."
"I won't let him forget," Harry vowed.
Tonks' mother smiled softly. "They didn't know this when they decided, but they couldn't have made a better choice than you, Harry. You, of all people, know how important it is to remember."
The rain had stopped while they talked; just then, a single beam of sunlight shot through the clouds and illuminated the stone marker that flanked the graves.
In Loving Memory
Remus John Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks Lupin
May 2, 1998
Those things which are precious are only saved by sacrifice.
"Remus?" She took a burning gulp of Firewhiskey and leveled him with her question again. "Tell me...is it all right if I fancy you?"
"Is it...?" He stared at her in disbelief. "Why would you ever want to, Tonks?"
Her eyes sparkled. "Why wouldn't I want to?"
"I could hurt you," he said after a long time. "In more than one way."
"I'm tough. I'm an Auror," she reminded him.
Lupin shook his head with regret. "Sirius told me to be careful with you."
"Oh, you great prat!" Tonks laughed. "Don't you realize...it wasn't me he was worried about..."