Disclaimer: Nope, still not mine.
A/N: For those of you who have me on Author Alert, I am so sorry for spamming up your inboxes. I told a lie. I said the next re-vamp would be I Attempt From Love's Sickness To Fly. Obviously, I didn't stick to that. Thing is, it's only the grammar there that needs sorting. I'm going to shut up now.
Oh, one more thing, I know this has been done to death, but I just wanted to rewrite it.
"And now to our popular segment, Pals of Potter. Romulus?"
The radio crackled and Tonks sat back in her chair, her hand resting on her bump. She took a deep breath and attempted a smile directed toward her stony-faced mother who was knitting furiously.
"What's it going to be?" she asked, eyeing the primrose yellow wool.
Andromeda did not look up from her needles. "A nice little jumper. I thought white was a little too bland, but since you insist on keeping the sex from me, I've had to go with yellow. It looks hideous."
Tonks rolled her eyes. "Well I like it. Besides, I don't know the sex either. It's not a conspiracy, Mum." She frowned. "Shh. We're missing it and Bump likes to listen to Dad."
Andromeda pursed her lips but kept her thoughts to herself, knowing all too well that one badly timed comment could send her fraught daughter over the edge.
"Know your friends. I hate to say this, but trust nobody lightly. We know that several Death Eater sympathisers are under the Imperius Curse. This does not make them any less dangerous and you are advised to approach with extreme caution or not at all."
"I'd be inclined to go for that last one, wouldn't you, Rodent?"
"How many times? It's Rapier!"
"Well, quite." 'Romulus' cleared his throat. "On a more positive note, we have had news from several people who are currently in hiding, reporting that they have escaped the eyes of Snatchers, Dementors and Death Eaters. As always, this must be taken with a pinch of salt. Do not believe you are safe, remain constantly on your guard and remember that a Patronus is a very useful thing."
"More news from the King of the Patroni."
"Every time, Romulus."
Tonks smiled sadly.
"He'll be needing one if I ever catch sight of him," Andromeda assured nobody in particular. "Nymphadora, really, I don't know why you upset yourself."
Tonks sighed irritably. "Because Bump likes to listen. He kicks. He knows the voice."
Andromeda's eyes narrowed, glinting with pleasure. "Ah, so it's a he!"
Tonks gave her a half-smile. "Mum, you're obsessed. I don't know. I don't like referring to the baby as 'It'."
Her mother's face fell. "Oh well. Primrose it is. Do you want me to knit something blue just in case? I've got a lovely powdery shade upstairs."
Andromeda beamed. "Oh, it's much nicer, darling. Though I do wish you hadn't let me get halfway through the jumper. A boy! Have you thought of any names?"
Tonks shook her head. "And Bump's not a boy! Well, might not be."
Andromeda got to her feet and, seemingly reluctantly, put down her knitting just as the quiet and polite knock caused her to jump.
"Stay here, Nymphadora. I won't be long."
"Mum, I'm a trained-"
"As I recall, you were not trained when pregnant. Besides, if Death Eaters were about to burst into my living room, I highly doubt they would indulge in etiquette. Now, stay there."
Tonks listened to her soft steps along the hallway and the quiet creak of the door's hinges. She took a deep breath and listened intently.
"What the hell do you want?"
Tonks got to her feet, pulling out her wand and creeping toward the living room door.
"I'd like a word with your daughter." He paused. "Please."
"What form does her Patronus take?"
"It's a wolf." There was a brief pause. "Your husband spoke to me not long ago. He says that he's safe and traveling with a friend named Cresswell. Do you know him?"
Tonks gasped and was unable to stop the broad smile that broke out, though she knew she ought to at least make some attempt at disdain.
Andromeda's tone softened. "Wait here. I'll ask her if she wants to see you. Don't just stand there, man. Come in. I want to shut the door." She frowned at him. "Take your shoes off. I only got round to cleaning the carpet this afternoon. I don't care if you're not staying long, you can take them off."
Tonks couldn't help but laugh under her breath and thanked God her mother hated him so. She knew as soon as she met Remus Lupin's eyes, she would be barely capable of speech, let alone anger.
"Nymphadora? Your husband is in the hall."
He stood behind her mother, not daring to look at her. His hair had grown longer and greyer. His fringe hung in his eyes.
His head shot up and his charcoal eyes met hers.
The baby kicked lightly, recognising the voice it remembered from months ago, close at hand once more.
"You'd better come in." She turned to her mother. "Maybe you could try to find that blue wool?" Closing the door, she leaned against it, desperate to almost trap him there, knowing he could Disapparate the moment he saw fit.
Tonks held up her hand. "Don't talk to me. Answer me." She waited for him to comply. He nodded and she continued. "Where have you been?"
"With my mother. She's back at Sleepy Cottage. That's where I grew up."
"I know." Tonks took a deep breath. "Why are you here?"
Lupin averted his eyes. "When I was younger, I heard my parents talking about my disease."
Tonks raised her eyebrows. "Point being?" She placed a soothing hand on her bump, knowing her blood pressure was rapidly rising.
"Will you please let me finish? I'm trying to explain." Lupin sucked in a breath and brushed his fringe out of his eyes. "As you know, my mother was a Muggle. She didn't understand. This was a disease from my father's world, a world she could only ever live on the edges of without fully grasping. I was seriously ill. She knew that. She blamed it on my father, though of course, it wasn't in any way his fault. This was before my first full moon. I heard the things she said to him. She called him a freak. She called him Lucifer. She called him a changeling." His voice cracked. "She was wrong. I was the changeling."
Tonks softened and took a hold of his arm. "Remus, your mother was afraid. She adores you. She didn't mean-"
"I know. I know full well that she loves me. She loves me when no-one else does; when I don't even care much for myself." He swallowed and seemed to be on the verge of tears. "I didn't want the child to think that of me. I didn't want it to have questions I couldn't answer. You don't know the pain I go through. You don't know what it's like. I made you an outcast, but you were a grown woman. You made your own decisions. How could I inflict that on an innocent child? All my life, I have striven to be harmless. I have never infected another human being. I'll admit there were near misses, but no-one suffered this because of me. Now I find there is a baby who might never know what it's like to be normal, and that is my fault."
Tonks frowned and thought for a moment. "I see your point. Define normal for me, Remus."
Lupin merely looked at her.
"No, Remus. Define normal."
Lupin smiled grimly. "Human, for starters."
Tonks nodded. "Voldemort is human."
"Bellatrix is human."
Lupin sighed irritably. "Healthy then. Neither of them are exactly in the bloom of mental health, are they?"
Tonks shrugged. "Some said that about Dumbledore and yet you revere him."
Lupin smiled genuinely. "As much I respect the man, his state of mind was not one I would wish upon my child either."
Tonks laughed lightly. "No. Fair point." She stopped, suddenly solemn. "May I define normal?"
Lupin gestured for her to do so. "Go ahead."
"A child who's loved, growing up without worry and living a happy life. I believe I can give that to our child, Remus. If you can't, there's the door."
A poignant silence engulfed the room. Tonks almost regretted her ultimatum.
Lupin nodded slowly. "It's funny," he said, not a trace of humour evident in his demeanor.
"What is? I don't think there's anything funny about it."
"No, no. You misunderstand me." Lupin sighed. "You ought to physically repel me."
"We're polar opposites. You're vivacious and pretty and lovely. I'm…well, I'm a boring old man. Perhaps rather I ought to physically repel you."
Tonks rolled her eyes. "Not this again. You make yourself sound like some sort of pervert. Who did all the chasing, Remus? Who did all the bloody work?"
He ignored her outburst. "You have pink hair."
Tonks took a deep breath, flaring her nostrils in a manner disturbingly reminiscent of her mother. "What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing," said Lupin, smiling fondly. "I like it. It's just…well, it's not how I pictured you."
"Not you exactly. My wife."
Tonks, now distinctly defensive, threw her chin up in a gesture of defiance. "Well, what did you picture? Who do you want me to be? Let's face it, I can do it. Who did you see as your wife?"
Lupin, realising he had gone about this in entirely the wrong fashion, shifted his weight and frowned deeply. "No, that's not what I meant. I never thought I'd deserve…I mean, I pictured a blind girl, a stupid girl, a girl somehow otherwise impaired, a girl who had to settle for whoever she could get."
"What is this, Remus, a harem?"
For the first time in almost a month, Lupin laughed genuinely.
"It just wasn't what I imagined," he confessed.
"No, instead you ended up with a girl who physically repels you."
"No!" he said, firmly. "That wasn't what I-" He recognised the twinkle in her eye and smiled at her. "What I meant to ask was how you thought any sane man would walk away from you. I wasn't in my right mind that night. I was terrified and I was furious with myself. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me and I had been careless with you. I couldn't understand how you could be happy about it. I couldn't see that you were happy."
"Are you saying that of the choice 'Fit in or fuck off', you have chosen the former?"
He opened his mouth to speak, but Tonks once again held up a hand to silence him.
"Before you say anything else, you should know that if you don't come back now, then you don't ever, but if you do, you don't leave. Do what you like to me, Remus. I bounce back. Make our child feel as inadequate and lonely and frightened and utterly miserable as you have made me feel, and I don't care how much I love you, I will break every bone in your body." She took a deep breath and tried to meet his eyes, but her courage failed her. "So are you coming home or not?"
The intensity of Lupin's gaze made her shudder.
"If you'll have me."
She met his eyes. "Come here."
Lupin strode across the room in three steps.
"Good. Give me your hand."
She placed it on the bump that had developed in his absence, recognising the familiar feeling of butterflies in her stomach.
Lupin beamed, his face lighting up. He looked ten years younger. Fascinated by this, he bit his lip, but the muscles still jumped in his jaw in perfect time with the tiny kicks beneath his hand.
"Um…hello," he croaked.
Tonks grinned at him. "Welcome home."