The best thing about muggle bars in London was that they didn't care. The only wizarding pub was the Leaky Cauldron and the gossip in there spread like the plague. The last thing he needed was the whole of the wizarding community talking about him even more than they would be after the news of his trial came out. Tom was also rather strict when it came to limits. He was rather adamant that his patrons be able to walk out of his bar – he refused to deal with passed out drunks.
Muggle bars – at least in the seedier parts of London – didn't care. Remus walked in still in wizarding robes and no one gave him a second glance. He had a wad of muggle money that Hermione always insisted he carry. He knew how much each was, but he had no idea how much a drink cost in muggle bars compared to the Leaky Cauldron. He just handed the bills to the bartender who slid him a glass.
"Rough day? This can buy you damn near the 'ole place."
Remus raised the glass slightly. "Just get me started."
It wasn't the smartest decision he'd ever made. He knew he shouldn't be drinking. He just didn't know what else to do.
Hermione was sitting on the couch, nervously nursing her second cup of coffee when she decided to look for Remus. She had no idea where he would be, but her best guess was – as "un-Remus" as it was – would be a pub. Not only a pub, but most likely a sketchy muggle one at that. Sighing, she turned on her computer and pulled up the list of all muggle bars near the Ministry of Magic. Printing out the list, she sighed again before grabbing her car keys and heading out the door.
It took her three hours and seventeen bars and by that point Remus was beyond drunk when she found him.
He turned to look at her and almost slipped off his stool.
" 'e's 'ad a lot, this one. You 'is daughter?"
The bartender looked surprised but didn't comment. "Well, 'e's one of the most serious drunks I've ever seen. Downright depressin'. Man can't even seem to get drunk and 'e's had so much I lost count."
"Remus, let's go."
Hermione held his arm as he stumbled away from the bar. He was weaving and tripping but she finally got him into the backseat off the car.
" 'ermione, why are you here?"
She stared at him. His words were slurred and the tone fluctuated, but he talked far more sober than he was walking.
"I'm making sure you don't splinch yourself trying to get home."
"Would you really care if I did?"
"What kind of question is that? Of course I would."
"Shhhhh. Shhhh. Not your turn to talk. S'my turn. You might care. You might care that poor Remus gets torn into itty, bitty pieces. But I don't care. Don't you care that Remus' doesn't care? I tried to kill m'self. Loads of times. Couldn't do it. Have to mean it you know. Have to mean it. Guess I didn't mean it. Tried to mean it…"
Hermione almost swerved into the oncoming lane of traffic.
"You tried to kill yourself?"
Remus looked like he was trying to wave her comment aside, although he ended up flailing his arms wildly.
"S'not easy. You'd think I'd 'ave practice. No one needs me, 'ermione. Werewolves should all be killed. Shot in the neck or hung in the head. No – wait…maybe it's the other way."
"So you think I don't need you?"
"Don't need me. Want me. M'like a dog. Cute and nice but just take up food and money and get in the bed and hog the covers…always wanted a dog. Daddy said no. Said I'd eat it….I don't eat dogs, 'ermione. Promise."
"I know you don't, darling. I know."
"I thought – if I was better, if
There was silence. She cast a quick glance into the backseat; Remus had passed out.
Remus woke up the next morning with the worst hangover he had ever experienced. Moaning, he unsteadily pushed himself into a sitting position. He was in his bed and mercifully the blinds had been shut tight against the sun.
He groaned, "Not so loud, Hermione."
She held out the small vial again. His stomach protested violently at the sight of it, but he swallowed it. His hangover immediately vanished.
"You are a lifesaver, Hermione."
"Funny you should mention that. Want to explain your comments last night?"
Remus racked his brains for what he had told her. "Oh…..Hermione, I haven't….not for awhile. Only three times – when I almost killed Severus, when I was fired from Hogwarts, and when…when Tonks cheated on me."
"So nothing….nothing I could have – "
" – Hermione, you saved my life. I don't know what I would have done without you. I just don't know what you're going to do with me."
"Look, I know you're upset. But the Ministry has always been prejudiced. You're just lucky you avoided Azkaban. We could go live in muggle London if you'd rather."
"Hermione, we don't need to move. I'm sure the hate mail will stop eventually…besides, it adds mystery. This morning's paper dubbed us "Beast and his Captive Beauty."
Hermione laughed and leaned back against him. He wrapped her arms around her and pulled her down unto the bed.
"I can think of worse things than being your "captive beauty."
"Well, a beauty I grant you. I think I'm the captive one."
She lightly smacked his arm. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"If I left you'd hunt me down and I'd end up back here. Not that there's anywhere else I'd rather be."
They lay there in contented silence for a few minutes.
"How would you feel about starting a bookstore?"
"Frequented by children."
"Oh. Right. You could start an adult book store….."
Remus shifted slightly to look at her. "Romance novels and porn? Why don't we just start a strip club?"
"You could stay at home with the children."
Remus stiffened and took his arms away, twisting her around. "The children?"
"Well….just – just one. I would have told you sooner but with the trial and everything I didn't want to worry you."
"Six weeks. I'm sorry I didn't tell you as soon as I found out. I told Molly and Ginny but we didn't want Tonks or Skeeter to find out and then..."
"And then I was banned from being near our children."
"From working near children. Not our child. The Ministry laws will change and we can file an appeal. You're the perfect father."
"Which I displayed by getting drunk. I make my pregnant wife hunt me down in a bar. That's a good start."
She kissed him. "You didn't know. You'll be a fantastic father."
"I – Hermione – you – you really…."
She stared at him intently. "You are…happy? Aren't you?"
"Happy? Hermione….this is – this is the best thing that has happened to me since you agreed to marry me. This is amazing – I couldn't –I never imagined I would have a child…have a family…." Remus pulled Hermione into his embrace and just held her tightly against him. A family. He had a loving, beautiful wife and now he was going to be a father.
"You might regret it if your child ends up being a troublesome Marauder like its father."
"I would love to have a little bushy-haired, bookworm Marauder running around."
"Hogwarts may feel differently."
Remus held her even tighter. "As long as you don't."
She gently kissed his forehead. "Never. Any child of yours will be perfect."
A/N: That's it! I hope you've enjoyed it! Thank you so much for all the reviews! The ending is a bit brief and leaves things open; I'm thinking about writing about a sequal.