Remus was absolutely, utterly devastated. He had collapsed onto the floor of Emmeline Vance's flat, curled into a ball, and sobbed violently for over an hour. Now his tears were dried up and all that remained was a sense of total emptiness. A week ago he had walked out of this flat, cursing Sirius for leaving her pregnant and alone, pitying himself as nothing but her backup lover, her comfort fuck. And now she was dead.
How could it be that Emma was dead? Even when he'd lost everyone else, she had always been there. Emma and Remus. After James and Lily died, after Peter was thought dead, after Sirius was in Azkaban. It was Emma and Remus. And after Sirius's death in the Department of Mysteries, it had still been Emma and Remus. How could it be just Remus now?
And her death hadn't been a peaceful one. The Death Eaters murdered her violently, brutally, painfully. His stomach knotted as he imagined the scene. Had she been afraid? Had she cried? Had she wished in silence that someone would appear to save her? How much had she suffered?
A wave a fury washed up in him at the injustice of it all.
"REDUCTO," he shouted, slashing his wand haphazardly at the wall, sending every shelf crashing to the ground, the glass in the photo frames shattering and the potting soil from that one plant that refused to die scattering across the floor.
Remus dropped his face into his hands and felt tears leaking from his eyes again. He didn't want to be Remus anymore. He wanted to be in a world where it didn't hurt, where he didn't lose everyone he loved.
The door opened and Albus Dumbledore entered, pushing the broken remnants of Emmeline's shelves out of his way with his foot. He stood in the entrance in silence for a few moments, Remus unable to even meet his eyes.
"I'm so sorry," said Albus.
Remus let out a scoff, unwilling to accept such sympathy. It was so trite, not even remotely enough to acknowledge the tragedy that was Remus's life, the trauma he had endured.
"Did you know she was pregnant?" spat Remus, looking up at his old Headmaster.
Albus's eyes closed momentarily, pain crossing his usually serene face.
"I did not," he said quietly.
The calm returned to his old Headmaster's expression as he looked down at him.
"It wasn't mine," spat Remus bitterly.
"Ah," said Albus. "So the House of Black will truly have no heir."
Remus gave a hollow laugh. Albus was silent for a moment before he spoke softly.
"You've had a very sad life, Remus," he said.
Remus just buried his faced in his hands and grunted. He heard the door open and shut and knew he was alone, and he relished the solitude. Alone, he couldn't lose anyone. Or hurt anyone. Yet the solitude didn't last as a knock on the door interrupted him. Who would be knocking on Emmeline Vance's door?
He didn't even bother to ready his wand. If it were a Dark Wizard, he'd just take the death that would come, swiftly or not. He didn't even care anymore.
But it was no Dark Wizard. It was Nymphadora Tonks, standing on the doorstep and biting her lip with a distressed expression.
"Remus, I'm so sorry," she said.
"Go away," he said.
"You can't just ignore this!" she insisted.
"I said go away."
She didn't move.
"Remus, we're all that's left-"
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN 'WE'?" he shouted. "There is no 'we!' I barely even know you! I knew James and Sirius and Emma since I was eleven years old, and I've known you for, what, ten minutes? There is no 'we,' Nymphadora, and there will never be a 'we.' I'M all that's left. I'M what's left. You aren't part of this and you never will be."
There was a moment of silence.
"There is no we," he repeated.
Glancing up at her, he saw that her normally vibrant hair had faded to a muted brown. She looked crushed.
"Remus, I love you," she said with a trembling voice, and he closed his eyes, trying to block out her words and her emotions. "I love you, and I want to be with you. To get through all of this with you. I need you!"
"You don't need me," he spat quietly, though his voice rose as he spoke. "Nymphadora, I am old. I am poor. I am a bloody WEREWOLF."
"I don't care about that!" she cried.
"You think you don't!" he roared. "You think you don't care, but really, you just don't understand! You don't know the reality of who I am!"
"Then tell me!"
"THE ONLY PERSON WHO KNEW ME IS DEAD!" he shouted, amber eyes blazing furiously at her. Remus knew it wasn't Nymphadora Tonks's fault. She had done nothing wrong, save develop a schoolgirl crush on him. Yet, he had to be angry at someone.
"She's dead," he continued. "And now, I'd like to be alone."
Tears streaked her face. She opened and closed her mouth, searching for words that would reach him, change his mind, but he watched her expression fall when she realized there were none.
Perhaps now she would be just as miserable as he was.
Remus opened the front door and looked pointedly at it, and Tonks got the hint. He heard the pop of her Apparition and slunk back to the couch to wallow in misery.
It would be many months before he spoke a kind word to her again. The other members of the Order didn't seem to understand. They focused on his excuses: poor, old, werewolf. They didn't seem to recognize the real reason he had pushed Nymphadora Tonks away. The ache he felt for his very best friend; not Sirius, but Emmeline. No one in the Order understood.
Except Snape. Remus caught Snape staring at him one evening, his expression absent the contempt that it normally bore when looking at one of the Marauders. Remus had blinked and looked away quickly, knowing Snape's skill for Legilimency and unwilling to let him see weakness. Snape never said anything, but he gave Remus an uncharacteristic clap on the shoulder as he left, and that same evening, an old picture of Emmeline and Remus and Lily Potter mysteriously appeared in Remus's bedroom. In it, Remus had his arms casually around both of them. Lily kept glancing off to one side, probably looking at James making an arse of himself, while Emmeline smiled brilliantly at the camera, most likely at Sirius who was taking the picture. And Remus saw the picture version of himself gazing surreptitiously at Emma every few moments, and he wondered how on earth no one had noticed how much in love with her he'd been even then.
Remus tried to remember the day it was taken, but couldn't. He kept that photo. Even on the day he finally married Nymphadora Tonks, that photo was in his shabby, hole-ridden pocket. For even though Remus slowly grew to love Nymphadora, he never fell out of love with Emmeline Vance. And even when he felt his heart nearly burst with love for his newborn son, he couldn't help but wonder what his child would look like had Emmeline been his mother.
And on the last day of his life, when he stared into the wands of countless Death Eaters, he felt no guilt at the ones he killed, for in his mind, he only continually wondered whether he had just killed the witch or wizard who had killed Emma.
Remus did not have to endure the misery of watching his young wife killed at the hands of a Death Eater. His life ended swiftly and with no pain or fear. He saw Harry, one last time, in the Forbidden Forest, and then was lost to eternity.
But his life and memory lived on in his son Teddy, who one day, while looking through his father's old possessions, found that photo of Emmeline and Remus and Lily, and had a very long and lovely afternoon wondering with Victoire about the woman at whom his father had stared so adoringly.