It has been a while, hasn't it? Well, I was rereading DH and I began to wonder what happpened after Harry turned down Lupin's request to join them on their mission. He eventually went back to Tonks and made amends, but how and what was said? And from those questions came this short story.
Remus Lupin trembled from head to foot as he stormed down the hall. He threw open the front door and slammed it shut, but he caught himself just before he stepped off the top step. He leaned against the door and took a few deep, cleansing breaths. He couldn't just step off the stoop, he couldn't chance being seen leaving 12 Grimmauld Place.
"I think you're feeling a bit of a daredevil. You fancy stepping into Sirius's shoes-"
Harry's words echoed in his mind.
"I'd never believed this. The man who taught me to fight dementors – a coward."
Feeling steady enough to disapparate, Lupin took himself to the Shrieking Shack. It was dark and deserted, eerily quiet. Hogsmeade was practically deserted and the school year had not yet started, so Hogwarts was silent.
"A daredevil," Lupin muttered as he quickly paced the floor. "A coward. You have no idea what you're talking about."
Flinging out his right arm, he used his wand to set a blaze in the fireplace. His voice rose as he continued to pace.
"He thinks this has been easy for me? He thinks I'm out for some kind of glory? What right does he have to call me such names?"
With a groan, he fell back onto the sunken old sofa. Burying his face in his hands, his breath came out in short angry bursts and his entire body shook as he tried to collect himself. He was lost and angry with himself. A part of him had thought that if he could just help Harry in whatever his mission was, it would make up for the mess he had made of Tonks' life. It would give his wife and child something to be proud of. Maybe, just maybe, he could make things a little better for the two of them. He knew that they would both be better off without him.
Pushing to his feet, Lupin began pacing again. He knew her parents hadn't been happy when she married him. Not happy? They had been disgusted. Andromeda and Ted had been pleasant to his face, but he could tell they were disappointed. When Tonks told them she was pregnant, her parents had looked at each other, an expression of fear and panic on their faces. They didn't want this child any more than he did.
And what about the child? Would he or she be all right? Would they be a werewolf or half-werewolf? What did that mean? A partial transformation each month? He knew how difficult it had been for him to transform, but what would it mean to a newborn baby? How could it survive?
"I knew we should never have married," he groaned, falling to his knees. "All I've done is ruined her life."
Holding his left hand up in front of him, Lupin glared at the simple band that circled his third finger. "I tried to leave her, Merlin knows I tried to leave her. But she wouldn't leave me. I was weak. I let myself fall for her when I had no right to. I fell in love with a woman too good for me."
Dora. His Dora.
The thought of her brought tremendous pain to his chest. He rubbed his hand over his heart. He did love her. With all his heart, soul, and mind, he loved her. But marrying her had been a mistake. He could survive with the pain of having to live without her because he knew it was for the best. But he had weakened and allowed their friends to convince him it could be.
When she had called him out on it in the infirmary, it had broken him. He saw what his rejection had done to her, both physically and emotionally, and it had devastated him. He loved her too much to watch her suffer. So he had stupidly, blindly allowed himself to think they could be together.
The members of the Order had supported them. Molly was so pleased, she had offered to bake the wedding cake. With so much friendship, love, and support, he had thought it would work. They would make it work.
"What have I done?"
Tonks sat beside the front parlor window and watched the darkness outside.
When she had found out she was pregnant, she could barely contain her excitement. She knew that the midst of a war was not the best time to bring a baby into the world, but the idea of having Remus' filled her with so much happiness.
No one really seemed to know what would happen with a baby whose father was a werewolf. Tonks had read every article and book she could find on lycanthropy and it's affects on children. It would be a lie to say she wasn't scared, she was terrified.
But, Tonks chose to look on the bright side. Nothing they had found indicated their baby would be a werewolf. She was healthy and the healer could find no problems with the pregnancy so far. From her reading, she had found instances of problems when the mother was a werewolf because the baby was in the womb for several monthly transformations.
Laying her hand on her stomach, Tonks shuddered at the thought of a woman in wolf form carrying a baby. What it had meant to the baby and the mother. Most of those children, if they even made it to full term, were born with serious physical problems.
But when the mother wasn't a werewolf, most of the children came out normal, maybe with a little more hair, but normal all the same.
Remus, on the other hand, was taking this very hard. He wasn't ready to be a father.
No, Tonks thought, it wasn't that he wasn't ready, he didn't think he could ever be a father.
Their relationship had been a rocky, complicated one. Tonks had fallen hard for Remus, long before she knew how he felt about her.
When she had joined the Order, finding love had been the last thing on her mind. She wanted to fight the good fight and help defeat Voldemort. While she did that, she had found the best friends she had ever had and the love of her life.
Remus Lupin was not the kind of man she had dreamed about as a child. He was several years older than her, introverted and convinced he could never be in a relationship. Oh, and he was a werewolf, or a dark creature, as he referred to himself.
He loved her. Tonks had no doubt in her mind that he loved her. She saw it when he looked at her, felt it when he held her, and heard it when he whispered to her.
She could see how it was tearing him apart. Remus loved her and wanted to be with her, but at the same time he didn't want to ruin her life and make her an outcast. It was this internal battle that had her worried about him. Tonks was trying to be patient and reassuring, but she was beginning to feel it was a losing battle.
Before he left, they had fought. Remus didn't think they should have the baby. It was an unsafe time to bring a child into the world, especially a child that might be…
Tonks tore her gaze from the dark window to see her father standing in the doorway to the room. "Yes, Dad?"
"How are you? Can I get you anything?"
She smiled softly. Her parents were not at all sure how to handle her and her pregnancy. "I'm fine. Thanks."
"No word from Remus?"
"Not yet." Not wanting to upset her parents, Tonks had told them that he had gone on a mission for the Order. If they had known about the fight and Remus leaving, they would have pitied her and their already low opinion of Remus would have gone even lower.
Ted crossed to her and laid a hand on her shoulder, squeezing reassuringly. "I'm sure he's fine."
Biting her lip, Tonks turned to look out the window again before he could see the tears that filled her eyes.
Lupin sat on the floor facing the fire. It had taken a couple of hours for him to stop shaking and calm himself enough to think clearly. Harry's words still stung.
Was he a coward?
Lupin had never thought of himself that way. He thought he had been doing the right thing. Harry just didn't realize how difficult it was for him to leave Tonks. She would be safe with her parents, safer than she would be with him.
Sighing, he watched the flames dance before him.
"I'm pretty sure my father would have wanted to know why you aren't sticking with your own kid, actually."
What Harry said had cut deep.
Lupin liked to think James would have supported him, James would have understood. In the short time he had had with Harry, James had been a devoted father. He had given his life in order to save his son. James had understood what needed to be done to keep his child safe.
With a heavy sigh, Lupin ran his hands through his hair. No, this was different. James would not have left Lily and Harry as he had left Tonks. James would have stayed by them no matter what.
"I am a coward."
For two days, Tonks moved through her parent's house like a ghost. She hadn't heard from Remus, but then there hadn't been word about him being injured or…or worse, which meant he was still out there, alive.
He had said he was going to find Harry and offer to help, that had been his excuse to leave after the fight. If he had joined Harry, then he was traveling with the most wanted wizard in the world and that did not help calm her fears.
On the third night, Tonks took up her nightly ritual of sitting by the front parlor window and watching for any sign of him.
"Dora, have you eaten today?" Andromeda asked, worriedly.
"How're you feeling? You're looking a bit peaky."
Andromeda gently ran her hand over her daughter's mousy brown hair. "Try not to get too upset, dear, it isn't good for the baby. I'm sure Remus is fine."
"I know," Tonks whispered. "But he should be here. With me."
"His work with the Order is important…"
"He isn't working with the Order!" Tonks jumped to her feet and paced in front of her mother. "I lied. I didn't want you guys to hate him."
"Where is he, Nymphadora?"
"He…he left me, Mum." Large tears raced down her cheeks as she finally looked up at her mother. "He left."
Andromeda stiffened. "I knew it. I knew a werewolf…"
"No!" Tonks shouted. "I won't have you talking badly about him. You have no idea what he's gone through, how he feels. He loves me. He does! He's…he's just scared. He doesn't think we should have the baby. He thinks he's ruined my life."
"Darling, I know you don't want to hear this, but maybe this is for the best. For you and the baby."
"Now you sound just like him. Why don't you understand? You and Remus. I know what's good for me. He's good for me! He's the best thing to ever happen to me!"
"How can you say that? I've watched over the past few years , the way he has hurt you, over and over."
Tonks wiped the sleeve of her shirt over her wet eyes. "You just don't understand. He isn't trying to hurt me, there's not a mean bone in his body. He's scared and confused. He's never had someone love him, he never thought he could have a wife and a family. He doesn't want to hurt me or the baby."
Andromeda stepped close and pulled her daughter into a tight hug.
"I love him so much." Tonks whispered into her mother's shoulder.
"I know you do, love, I know you do."
"I wish you could see him the way I do. I wish you knew him like I do. There is so much more to him than being a werewolf. He's so good and so kind. He's just a little…mixed up with his emotions."
Andromeda stepped back and held Tonks at arm's length. "I do know my daughter and if you can see so much good in him and love him as you do, than he has to be a good person."
They both jumped at the knock on the door.
Ted rushed down the hall from the kitchen, wand in his hand.
"It's Remus." Tonks said quietly.
"How do you know?" Ted whispered.
"I just do." She went to the door. "Who is it?"
"It's me," Remus replied, hoarsely.
Tonks leaned against the door, pressing her cheek to the wood. "Prove it."
He cleared his throat and spoke a bit louder. "I am Remus John Lupin, werewolf, sometimes known as Moony. I am a member of the Order of the Phoenix and one of the Marauders. I am married to you, Nymphadora, when I…when I left your hair was purple and you were wearing a Holyhead Harpies shirt. You're…you're pregnant with our child. I am an old fool and a coward who doesn't deserve you."
"Why should I let you in?" She asked, so quietly she wasn't sure he'd hear the question.
"Because I love you," he whispered back.
Tonks didn't bother to hide the tears as she opened the door.
He stood on the stoop, his head down. A few days growth of beard covered his chin and dark shadows circled his eyes. Slowly, he lifted his wet eyes to hers. "Dora…"
Without a word, she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him as tightly as she could. After a moment's hesitation, Lupin brought his arms up around her.
Remus quickly got over the initial shock of having her in his arms. He was afraid he would never hold her again. With both arms wrapped tightly around her, he buried his face in her mousy hair.
"I'm so sorry," he whispered. "So, so sorry."
Ted cleared his throat.
Lupin lifted his head and looked down at his wife's tear-stained face. "Dora?"
"We, uh, we need to talk," she said, wiping her cheeks with her sleeves.
"Yes, we do."
Tonks turned, lacing her fingers with his. "Excuse us."
Her parents both stood, wands in hand, and watched as they entered the house. Remus' face colored. He knew his actions had not endeared him to his in-laws.
She shook her head. "Its fine, Mum, we're going upstairs to talk."
"We're here if you need us," Ted said as they walked up the stairs.
Remus wanted to say something. He felt as though he should apologize to them as well, but, he knew, before he made amends with them, he had to clear things with Dora.
She didn't say a word as she led him up the stairs and into her bedroom. The walls were still decorated with posters of the Holyhead Harpies and the Weird Sisters. Clothes were strewn over furniture and the bed was unmade.
Once inside the room, Tonks shut and locked the door. She turned on the lamp next to the bed and sat down, using the edge of the bed sheet to wipe the tears from her eyes.
Without a word, Remus picked up the box of tissues on her bureau and handed them to her.
"I don't know where to start," she sniffled. "I want to hug you and hold you and never let you go. I also want to hex you into next year. What happened, Remus?"
Taking a moment to try and collect his thoughts, Lupin removed his traveling cloak and laid it over the back of her desk chair before taking the chair and setting it in front of her. He sat down and fought back the overwhelming urge to reach out and touch her, caress her hand, stroke her cheek, just feel her.
"I'm sorry, Dora, so sorry. I know that's not enough, but I have to say it. I am sorry."
"I know you are, but we're still married and I'm still pregnant. You left me, Remus! You left me! How could you? Not just me, you left our baby!" Tears coursed down her cheeks.
"What I did was wrong, inexcusable. I panicked and I behaved like a coward. I don't want to ruin your life, or the baby's life. I never wanted to drag you down to this life. You're an outcast, we couldn't even stay at Harry's birthday party!" He rose and began pacing the room. "We had to marry in secret. Dora, you should have had a real wedding, with guests and a dress and a cake and flowers. Like Bill and Fleur had. You should have a husband who can take you out on real dates without being asked to leave restaurants or stores…"
"Remus, listen to me, please." Tonks rose and stood in front of him. "You have to believe me when I tell you none of that matters to me. I'm not Fleur, I didn't want a flouncy dress or flowers. You should know me better than that. The only wedding I ever wanted was the one where I married you."
Lupin lowered his chin to his chest.
Tonks cupped his face in his hands and forced him to look at her. "I'm sorry we had to leave Harry's party early, I really am. But we have to believe that this will not go on forever. When You-Know-Who is defeated, things will get better. "
"This is what my life was like before this war started, I find it hard to believe it will change afterwards."
"But it will, I believe it will."
With an exasperated sigh, he stepped away from her. "Oh, Dora, you are so young! So naive! You have no idea what it's like for me!"
"Are you serious? I have watched for over two years as you've struggled to deal with what life has dealt you. I have seen how you're treated, I have heard your stories and I have loved you. You are a stronger man for what you've had to deal with. "
"I can deal with it because it's just me! I never wanted to drag anyone else into this life with me, and certainly never a child."
Tonks chewed on her lip. "Are you…are you sorry you married me?"
Lupin ran his hands through his hair, taking his time to formulate his response. "Dora, I love you. For the rest of my life I will love you with all my heart. I am not sorry for that and I am not sorry for marrying you. But I am sorry that as long as you're my wife, you will be an outcast. You will miss out on so much and you will be hurt because of who I am."
"Since becoming involved with you, the only pain I've had has been caused by you. If I've missed out on anything or been treated as an outcast, it's been by you."
Her words cut him deeply, hurting enough to make his knees buckle and he sat on the edge of her bed.
Tonks sat beside him, taking his hand in both of hers. "Remus, we are so blessed. We have our friends, the members of the Order. They love us and treat us as equals. You have a family now, a wife who loves you very much and a baby who will be so proud of their father."
"The baby," he whispered. "Think about what his life will be like. Parents won't let their children play with the child of a werewolf. He won't be invited to play quidditch or to go to other children's houses. I lived that life, I know what it's like and how lonely it can be."
"And then you went to Hogwarts and met James and Sirius."
Lupin nodded slowly.
Tonks squeezed his hand. "Not everyone is afraid of you and not everyone is prejudiced."
"I…I'm so afraid that you're going to wake up one day, five…ten years from now and realize that marrying a werewolf was the worst possible thing to happen to you. You'll regret marrying me and you'll regret having this baby with me."
"Remus, look at me."
With trepidation, he lifted his eyes to meet hers.
"I don't know what's going to happen in five, ten, or twenty years. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. But what I do know is that I will love you forever, no matter what. I fell in love with you knowing you're a werewolf, I married you and made a baby with you, knowing you're a werewolf, and I will continue to love you, knowing you're a werewolf."
"But the baby…"
"Will have two completely devoted parents who will love him. Or her."
Lupin rested his forehead against hers and closed his eyes. "I've spent most of my life in solitude, I never really had to worry about other people or take care of anyone else. Now, I'm terrified I'm going to let you down."
"You can't let me down."
"I've put you through hell."
"Yes, you have."
"I can't ask you take me back after I have behaved so cowardly, so thoughtlessly."
"But I will."
A choked sob tore from his throat as he slid his arms around her and pulled her close.
"We need each other now more than ever," she whispered, tearfully. "I need you, Remus."
"I don't deserve you."
"No, you don't."
The chuckle burned his raw throat. "Oh, Dora, I love you, so much."
"I know you do." She leaned back so she could look him in the eye. "I know you're feelings, that's why I knew you'd come back to me."
Lupin cleared his throat. "How are you?"
"Now that you're back, I'm fine."
"And…and the baby."
"Dr. Dahlrimple says everything is progressing nicely."
"That's the healer Kingsley found for you?"
"Yeah, he's safe."
"Does he know…"
"Yes. He recognized the name Lupin."
He tensed. "How?"
"You taught his daughter when you were at Hogwarts. She thought very highly of you. You're welcome to come to my appointments with me if you like."
Lupin swallowed hard around the lump that grew in his throat. "I'd like that."
"I, uh, I got a couple of books on lycanthropy." Tonks rose and picked up the two books she had left on the bedside table. "Minerva got them out of the Hogwarts library for me. And Hagrid gave me a few articles he had collected. I can't find anything that makes me think this baby could be a werewolf. There just aren't any cases of that happening."
"But there can't be that many cases of werewolves having children."
"No, there aren't."
"We don't breed for a reason."
"Breed? Did you just say breed?"
Lupin watched as her cheeks darkened and her eyes narrowed. "Y-yes."
"You are not a dog and I am not your bitch! We did not breed! We made love and now we're going to have a baby. A human baby. Maybe he'll have a bit more hair or maybe she'll be a metamorphmagus, but our baby won't be an animal."
"That's not what I meant."
"Remus, you need to stop thinking of yourself as an animal. You are a man, a good, smart man."
He nodded, ashamed.
Tonks stood in front of him and lifted her shirt to expose her stomach. "I'm starting to show."
From his seat on the bed, Tonks' belly was directly in front of him. There was just a slight swelling of her normally flat stomach.
"Give me your hand."
His hand shook as he held it up for her.
Cupping his hand in hers, Tonks laid them both on her abdomen. "That's our baby growing in there. Our beautiful, healthy baby."
"Oh, Dora," he whispered, rising to his feet, his hands pressed over her stomach. "I don't know what to say."
"Just say you won't leave us again."
"I won't leave you again, I promise."
"You can't break a promise."
Tonks threw her arms around his neck and hugged him close. "Welcome home, Remus."
Together, they lowered themselves to the bed and held each other tightly, watching the sun come up through the window above her desk.
"Where have you been?" Tonks asked, her head on his shoulder.
"I went to Harry."
She lifted her head to look down on him. "How is he? Where is he?"
"He…he was safe when I left him. They all were. He seems to know his mission and he's lucky to have Ron and Hermione with him."
"I offered to go with them, to help."
"He didn't want you?"
Blushing, Lupin shook his head. "He made me see, in a very humbling way, that my place was with you and the baby, not with him."
Leaning over to gently brush her lips over his, Tonks whispered, "Remind me to thank him."
"He's wise beyond his years."
"Did it take you three days to find him?"
"No." He toyed with her hair and avoided her eyes. "I went to the Shrieking Shack. I was angry and…well, humiliated. I couldn't face you. I was so ashamed of my behavior."
"But you did come back."
He lifted his eyes to hers. "I can't stay away from you."
"I'm glad for that," she murmured, rising to sit up.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm thirsty, I'm going to run downstairs for some pumpkin juice."
Lupin pushed himself up. "No, I'll get it. You stay here."
"Remus, I can…"
"Let me go. I want to take care of you."
She smiled and stretched back on the bed. "I think there are some Chocolate Frogs in the cupboard over the sink."
He glanced back at her, his eyebrow raised. "Chocolate Frogs?"
"It's become a craving of mine," she explained, resting a hand on her stomach.
"It was a craving of yours before you were pregnant."
"I didn't say it wasn't."
Chuckling, Lupin slipped into the hall. The house was quiet, as it was too early for Ted or Andromeda to be up. He crept down the stairs and into the cozy kitchen in the back of the house.
Andromeda sat at the kitchen table, a cup of tea at her elbow, and her wand in hand when Lupin entered.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know anyone was up," he muttered, embarrassed.
"How is she?" She asked, slowly laying her wand back on the table.
"Dora's fine. I came down to get her some juice and a snack."
"She hasn't been eating well."
He nodded, not sure how to respond to that.
"Here," Andromeda rose and went to a cupboard. "Let me. I'm sure she asked for Chocolate Frogs, she needs something healthier."
"Sirius wrote to me," she said as she put together a sandwich. "When he was at Hogwarts. We were close when we were younger, he was the little brother I never had. His letters were full of stories about you and James. He never told me you were a werewolf." She got out the pumpkin juice and poured a glass. "I was so glad he had found you boys. His life had not been easy. And when he went to live with the Potters, I was so happy. He deserved to be loved and to have a family."
"He was and he did." Lupin said quietly.
"I think about the good friend Sirius talked about in his letters and then I compare him to the man my daughter married."
Lupin waited, not sure what to say and wanting to know where she was headed with this.
"I know you've had a hard time at it and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about Nymphadora."
"I love her."
"I know you do. But if you hurt her again, I will personally hex you into next year."
Lupin's eyes widened. "Dora, uh, made a similar threat."
"My daughter can take care of herself, I know that, but she will always be my little girl." Picking up a tray laden with a sandwich, pumpkin juice, and a Chocolate Frog, Andromeda held it out for him to take. "I'm just waiting for you to live up to the reputation Sirius and Nymphadora have given you."
Shame colored his face.
"I don't hate you, Remus. I can't dislike anyone my daughter loves as much as she loves you. Here." She forced the tray into his hands. "Make sure she eats it all. Take care of my girl."
"I will," he promised.