There were visible reminders everywhere Remus looked. On the nightstand, where her hairbrush lay, tangled with hairs of pink and purple and a shocking, electric blue. In the loo, where her toothbrush sat haphazardly next to his, the cap never replaced on the toothpaste. In the kitchen, where the broken teapot still littered the countertop; a physical reminder of the clumsiness that is intrinsic to her very being. Lying there in their bed, all Remus could think about was her. Think about, dream about, feel.
His entire life was wrapped up in one Nymphadora Tonks.
Remus admired order in his life; Tonks was the very opposite of order. Remus enjoyed a comfortable existence (well, twenty-nine days out of the month, anyway); Tonks made it a point to stir things up. Remus listened to classical music, prepared classic meals, read classic books; Tonks listened to the Weird Sisters, made a holy mess in the kitchen and considered reading to be the latest copy of Witch Weekly.
And yet, they just worked.
He hadn’t always feel that way, hadn’t always reckon they would. To hear Tonks tell the tale, you’d think that Remus had been a giant prat about the entire thing from the beginning. Well, ok, maybe he had been, but he’d had his reasons. Living your entire life with the burning secret of lycanthropy, you learn not to let people too close… for their safety, and for your own. His friends had been different; Padfoot and Prongs, and even Wormtail before he’d turned to the Dark, had gone above and beyond in order to be able to handle his “furry little problem” as James liked to call it. They’d transformed themselves into creatures able to stand their ground in the face of his fury.
But love? How could love survive when faced with such ugliness and anger?
He’d fought her. Merlin, how he’d fought her. Pushed her away until he bloody well broke her spirit. Oi, how Molly Weasley had berated him for that; it made Remus blush even to this day to think of her dressing-downs. God, how that woman could fuss! Now he knew why the Weasley children dreaded her Howlers so much. It wasn’t until Greyback had attacked Bill Weasley, and Tonks had seen how Fleur Delacour had stood by her fiancé and he had let her that Tonks had finally got through Remus’ seemingly thick skull.
It hadn’t been easy for them. When Tonks wanted a mile, Remus gave an inch. He simply wasn’t willing to compromise her safety for his feelings, no matter how many times she begged him to let her in. No matter how many times it ripped at his sodding heart to hear her crying over him. But little by little, she wore him down. Little by little, he let her in. And now, nearly four years later, here they were. Here they were.
Remus rolled over in the bed, finding Tonks’ side cold; she’d been gone longer than he’d realised. He could still smell her, however… that gentle scent of lavender and woman. For the tough exterior that Tonks put up on the outside, she was still a frilly thing underneath it all. That was quite a discovery for Remus to make once upon a time. He still chuckled when he recalled the first time he caught her red-handed in Lady K’s Lingerie (for the discriminating witch) when they were shopping in Diagon Alley one day. He had separated from her so that he could purchase her birthday gift, a rather lovely leather wand strap to replace her standard Auror-issue one, and when he had found her, she was poking around the unmentionables shop with longing in her gaze. That was the day he found out his Tonks had a soft side after all – she wasn’t all pink hair and ripped t-shirts – and he made it a point to treat that side of her as much as he could.
A leather wand strap and a frothy, silk robe for her birthday. They had cost him nearly all of his savings, but they were well worth it to see her smile. A bottle of lavender scented perfume one day “just because.” Flowers out of the blue for no apparent reason. A small bauble of jewellery on their anniversary… something he could afford on his poor werewolf’s salary… even if she didn’t wear it every day. After everything he put her through before he came to his senses and let her in, it was the least he could do for her. So he did it… and then some.
Who knew Remus Lupin was a closet romantic?
And it wasn’t as if Tonks didn’t give back to him, either. Every smile from her was reciprocation enough. Every laugh. Every touch of her hand to his. The day he and Tonks wed had been one of the happiest days of his life; a reaffirmation of all that he’d wanted but never thought he’d have. He had love, gave love, was loved. Tonks’ love was her greatest gift.
He knew exactly where she was and exactly why she had crept from their bed at such an early hour of the morn. Smiling to himself, he pushed the duvet back and slipped from the bed, pulling on his dressing gown and shoving his feet into a pair of warm slippers he kept by the foot of the bed. He tied the sash around his waist and set off down the hall. He knew just where his wife would be.
Near-silent footsteps carried him two doors down the second floor hallway of their small cottage to where a dim light shone from beneath the partly-closed door. Putting his hand upon the door, he slowly pushed it open; the sight he was faced with catching him somewhere in the vicinity of the solar plexus. God, he thought to himself, it gets me every time. This, this is my greatest gift.
His wife sat, her pink hair standing up in messy spikes and valleys much as Prongs’ had once upon a time, wearing her tattered and torn “Like Change? Marry a Metamorph” t-shirt and a pair of Remus’ boxers, in the rocking chair, their son cradled to her chest as she sung a low, hypnotic lullaby. The baby, soothed by his mum’s soft voice, lay there snuggled close and happy as a lark, cooing the gentle sounds of the very young.
Remus felt his heart contract and expand all in the same breath. To think that he could have missed out on this, all of this, because of his foolish pride; it so often grabbed him by the throat and hung on with all its might. Sometimes still, in the dark of night as Tonks and his son slept silently, he thought and wondered and worried what the future would hold for them having to deal with his lifelong lycanthropy sentence… but he knew that if he thought that way, he would never experience the beauty of the now.
And the now was so very, very beautiful. The proof was sitting right there, bathed in a ray of light with dust motes dancing all around her, as she held their cooing son, singing him an old wizarding lullaby.
“You couldn’t resist, could you?”
Remus’ voice pierced the near-silence, and Tonks looked up, her eyes, a piercing blue today, smiled at him even as her lips curled.
“I know, I know, I’m a terrible mother. I can’t even let him lie in his own cot. I can’t help it, Remus. My arms just ache to hold him.”
Remus smiled and stepped into the room, pausing to crouch in front of his wife and son, his own calloused hand coming to rest atop his son’s downy head. “That doesn’t make you a bad mum, Tonks,” he murmured. “Just a loving one.”
Tonks continued to rock back and forth in the chair, gently enough so that she didn’t hit Remus’ knees as he knelt in front of her. As he looked up from his son’s cherubic face, he reached up to brush a lock of vibrant pink away from hers.
“Knut for your thoughts.”
Tonks grinned. “Do you remember what you were thinking seven years and two hours ago?”
Remus cocked an eyebrow at her, leaning back a titch so he could look at her fully. Seven years and two hours ago? Where did she come up with things like this? It was just one more reason he loved her so much. Uncapped toothpaste, broken teapots, and incoherent thought patterns; they were all just such a part of his Tonks.
She was grinning at him like a Cheshire cat, so he quite simply sat back on his heels and made absolutely no pretence of answering her anytime soon. It was a game they played often; she asked, he answered in his own sweet time. And the baby wasn’t complaining at the mo’, so he drew out the moment as long as he could.
Seven years ago? Seven years ago, Remus had just stepped back into Harry’s life after so many years without him by taking the position as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. Seven years ago, he had discovered how wonderful James and Lily’s son had turned out, even with those rotten Muggles as his guardians. Seven years ago, he had discovered that Sirius was innocent of the horrid crimes Remus had thought him guilty of, that everyone had thought him guilty of, for so, so long. Seven years ago, he had gained back so much. So much, and yet, he had so little.
He didn’t have love.
In the years that ensued, Voldemort resurfaced, making Harry’s life even more complicated and painful than it already had been; Sirius had been taken from him yet again, this time for good; the Order formed once more, struggled, fought, and in the end, finally triumphed over the Dark with Harry leading the way. And somewhere, in the midst of it all, there was Tonks. Always Tonks.
Remus’ mouth kicked up in a snarky grin, reaching up to flick one of the many earrings in Tonks’ left ear. He may be an old man in body, but he was still young and vibrant in spirit… it had just taken him a while and a certain younger woman to rediscover it.
“Seven years and,” he paused and cleared his throat purposefully just to annoy his wife, “two hours ago, I was thinking that I was finally going to see the son of two of my best friends again, wondering if he would ever recognise me as the ‘Uncle Remus’ he once knew me as.
“Six years and two hours ago,” he continued, “I was wondering if the Dementors were going to find Sirius and take him back to Azkaban, and me along with him, for helping him hide out after escaping and telling the truth about Wormtail.” His voice fell dangerously low as he spoke of his once-upon-a-time friend, Peter Pettigrew. Pettigrew’s betrayal still haunted Remus to the core, hurting until it went hand in hand with his anger.
But he visibly shook off the pain and anguish as his wife’s hand came to rest along his stubbled cheek, turning his lips to her palm to press a kiss there. “Five years and two hours ago,” Remus paused a moment, to kiss his wife’s palm a second time, “I was thinking about Sirius… watching him fall through the veil in the Department of Mysteries over and over and over again in my mind, wondering if I could have done anything to save him; to save my best friend, to save Harry’s godfather, to keep Harry from losing yet another person in his life.” He paused for a moment, piercing Tonks with his dark gaze. “And then, there was you.
“From five years and one point nine hours ago until just this very moment, I’ve been thinking of you. Thinking about what a stupid, thick dolt I was to push you away for so long. Thinking of how you forced me into admitting I loved you after Greyback attacked Bill Weasley. Thinking of how we’ve lived and laughed and loved from that day onward, from our wedding to the day you told me you were pregnant and I fell off the chair in the kitchen,” he chuckled before continuing, “to the day that you brought Jimmy into the world, kicking and screaming and changing his eye colour so quickly he frightened the mediwitches.”
Tonks snickered at that, glancing down at their now sleeping son. The baby looked so peaceful, she couldn’t help but brush her fingertip along his chubby little cheek… a gesture that Remus found endearing; she did the same to him when she thought he was asleep as well.
“Does that answer your question, my dear?” Remus asked with some cheek, smirking up at his wife in a way that he surely learnt from Sirius.
“Yes, darling, it does. Just goes to show that you recall all the important moments in life, all those little anniversaries that mean so much.” Tonks stood from the rocker, carrying little Jimmy to his cot and laying him down, the baby immediately rolling over and sticking his bum up in the air, his thumb going into his mouth. Remus watched from his crouch on the floor as his wife turned at the cot and took out her wand, staring at him with some sort of mischief in her eyes. Remus knew enough of that look to be wary. He uncurled slowly from the floor and took her vacated spot in the rocking chair.
“So,” Tonks continued, “I reckon I need to give you just one more moment to turn into an anniversary… so when I ask you down the road what you were doing one year and two hours ago, you’ll remember just what happened.”
There was that mischievous grin of hers again, the one that usually meant some sort of trouble was about to occur. Remus narrowed his gaze at her, growling in a low tone, “Tonnnnnks.”
She smirked at him and pointed her wand to towards her belly, murmuring a spell that Remus didn’t think he’d hear again anytime soon, especially not with Jimmy just six months old. “Aperidisum Ingravesco,” she said, a pink light suddenly surrounding her entire body… a light that had nothing to do with the shocking pink of her hair.
“Congratulations Remus,” Tonks said, her voice alight with the glee of the artful and sly. “It’s a girl.”
A girl. A girl?!? Remus’ mouth fell slack even as his eyes flicked back and forth between Tonks’ face and her belly, astounded by the pink glow filling the room.
Remus did the only thing he could do.
He fell off the chair.
A/N: Thanks bunches to my awesome beta. You know who you are.