Remus Lupin had been having a good day. He’d started off the morning with a cup of tea which he’d brewed himself, answered all his correspondence for the day and was now settling down in an armchair to enjoy a book.
“Remus? Remus, are you there?” Harry Potter’s concerned face filled up the fireplace.
Instantly, Remus got up from his armchair and walked over to the fire, still a bit sore and stiff from the full moon a week before. “Yes, Harry, I’m here.”
“Ah, good.” Remus could hear the pure relief in Harry’s voice. “I’m glad I caught you. I was afraid you might be out.”
“I took an evening off,” Remus said with a shrug. “Tonks is a bit concerned about my health. I’ve got a cough and some muscle stiffness.”
“What do the Healers at St. Mungo’s say?” Harry asked, raising his eyebrows in a way that, in one very painful moment, reminded Remus very much of his father
Swallowing to get past the pain that crept up so often now, Remus smiled. “Oh, you know. I’m a werewolf.”
Harry chuckled, and Remus was relieved that Harry let the issue drop. “I’m glad Tonks is there to make you see sense, old man,” he teased.
“You and me both,” Remus agreed.
“I’ve got a favor to ask of you, if you’re not feeling too poorly,” Harry said. “Ginny wants to ask you some questions. She’s been having some dreams lately, and she wants your opinion.” For a moment, Harry disappeared from the screen and when he returned, he was grinning. “She says to be sure to tell you that she’s planning on making soup and bread for lunch tomorrow. Nutritious for werewolves and pregnant women.”
Remus guffawed and ran a hand through his hair. “All right. Lunch it is. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Ruffling the papers around on his desk, Remus eventually gave up when he realized he didn’t even know what he was looking for. He had lost so many things in his life, and gained so many more. He had lost Lily and James, but now Harry and Ginny were in the same position Lily and James had been in 25 years ago.
“Remus, will you pass the butter?” Lily asked as she broke apart her croissant.
“Hmm, what?” Remus looked up from his paper. “Oh… yes.” Wincing a bit as he reached across the table, Remus handed Lily the dish.
“Are you feeling okay?” Lily asked pointedly, pulling down on the newspaper. “Come out of your little world and talk to us.”
Remus put down the paper completely and lifted a brow. “Us? There’s just you and me.”
“And the baby,” Lily insisted. “I’m convinced that the baby can hear every word we say.”
Remus paled a bit. “Really? Even the other night when we were singing that song…?”
“Yes,” Lily said with a soft smile, “but I don’t think it can understand us just yet.”
“Oh, good.” Remus smiled, the action softening some of the lines exhaustion and illness had created on his face.
Lily returned the smile
“I’m worried about James,” Lily said vaguely, looking out the door to the pathway that led to the back of the Godric’s Hollow property.
“He’ll come back,” Remus said, reaching across the table to squeeze Lily’s hand. “He’s got a lot to live for.”
“I know,” Lily said, her eyes far away. “If we… if something was to happen to us, and the baby is left with Sirius, will you promise me something?”
Remus felt the curious pressure on his heart that he got every once in a while when his friends became so serious about the future. “What do you want me to promise?”
Lily grabbed his hand with hers. “If we’re gone, will you help Sirius? I know he’s going to be a great godfather, but I really want you to be there for our child. Please?”
Looking out towards the window himself, Remus found himself nodding. “I will, but I don’t think it will be necessary. You and James will make it through this war. You have to, so the rest of us can have hope.”
Lily’s eyes flashed for a moment, and then she ducked her head, focusing her attention on her belly, where her child was growing. “I think…” Lily raised her head. “I think that no matter what happens, it all will turn out okay in the end.”
Remus nodded, unsure why the conversation was heading in this direction. “Worst comes to worst, you and James will just disappear for a while. That’ll be harder on us than it will be on you.”
“There’s one more thing, Remus. I’ve been doing some reading on ancient protection spells and incantations.”
Remus raised an eyebrow. “Fascinating reading, to be sure.”
Lily tried to chuckle, but failed, forcing a weak smile on her lips. “Try as I might, there’s no spell that will protect us from the Killing Curse.”
“Lily,” Remus said patiently, coming around to the other side of the table to grasp her hand, “we knew that.”
“I know, I know. I just couldn’t give up on this idea that there had to be some way to stop him. It’s just not fair! Magic is supposed to be a balanced scale. For every jinx or hex, there’s an counter, a way to remove the damage. There ought to be something we can do.”
Remus shrugged. “There ought to be. There isn’t anything we can do for now, though.”
At the distressed look on Lily’s face, Remus squeezed her hand. “Lily. Stop. You’re going to be fine. No one’s going to get to you or the baby. You know James has been worrying about this all day and night. No one’s better than James once he’s set his mind to solving a problem.”
Tears slid from Lily’s eyes down her cheeks. “I know, I know. We didn’t want to bring a child into the world when it was like this. I’m so happy this baby is going to be here, and I’m already so much in love. But, oh…what I wouldn’t give to have everything fixed before July. I can clean and clean this house and nothing will ever be tidy enough because it feels like the world is never going to be clean enough for this baby!”
“Lily.” Remus reached out a bit blindly with his hands, finally resting them on her shoulders as she shook with sobs. Lily had been his friend for a long time, longer than she and James had been friends, but he had never seen her like this.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she cried. “The closer we get to my due date, the crazier I get. I just cry at the drop of a hat and I’m so anxious about everything. I didn’t mean to dump everything on your lap, Remus. I know you’ve got a lot to worry about without me blubbering all over you.”
Remus blushed. “Can I get you something? Like a tea or…”
“No. No. I have tea here in front of me. James should be back any minute and then your turn babysitting the crazy lady will be over.”
Chuckling, Remus bent over and kissed the top of Lily’s head. “Crazy you may be, but we love you just the same.”
“Thanks, Remus,” she said, still sniffling. “That’s very nice of you to say.”
“I meant every word.”
At the sound of the front door opening, Remus reached for his wand out of reflex, but Lily pushed herself to her feet and walked as fast as she could to the person who’d just arrived. Remus, muttering to himself, jumped up and hurried after her. However, his concern was unwarranted, for as soon as he got to the door, he saw Lily wrapped in James’s arms.
Still a bit shaky from her dream, Ginny wiped down the table with a washcloth one last time before she set the table, going over her checklist in her head. After a full moon, Remus liked red meat, so she was serving beef soup with vegetables and homemade bread. Remus needed calcium in his bones and so did she, so there was milk to drink. For desert, she’d made her famous treacle fudge. It was a big meal for lunch, but she felt like she was asking a lot of her old professor and she wanted to make it up to him.
Harry had taken the day off of work, expressing concern over the back pain Ginny had been experiencing early in the morning. They were still a few weeks from their due date, though, and Ginny was determined (irrationally, she knew) that the first Potter baby wouldn’t come until she was ready.
“Ginny, why don’t you sit down at the table and let me get things set up?” Harry asked, coming in from the living room, where he’d been reading ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting (The Magic Edition)’.
“I suppose that would be all right,” Ginny agreed, sitting down in the chair with the extra pillow on the back that she’d come to need in order to be even close to comfortable. “Do you suppose Remus will be okay with me asking these questions?”
Harry took down the plates and counted out silverware, remnants of his Muggle upbringing, while he thought that over. “I suppose he’ll be fine with it. He’s always okay with talking about my dad. And… I sort of want to know, too.”
Ginny nodded and stroked the edge of the green placemats Luna had sent them as a wedding present. “When you’re a teenaged boy, I suppose you’re more concerned about your dad.”
Harry shrugged. “It was easier to talk about missing my dad, I think. Missing your mum is… more private, somehow.”
Sensing how uncomfortable Harry was with the topic, Ginny let out a small yelp and then grinned when Harry looked up. “The baby’s kicking! She doesn’t do that often anymore. The mediwitch said that’s normal.”
“He,” Harry corrected absently as he came over to feel the spot Ginny had indicated.
“What are you going to do if you do have a daughter?” Ginny asked. “Do you really want a boy that badly?”
“I would be happy either way,” Harry admitted, and a blush crawled up to his ears. “I’m not really sure how to handle girls, though. I mean, I grew up Dudley and then I spent part of the summers with Ron, and…”
“Oh, it’s about the same as raising boys,” Ginny said airily, and then grinned wickedly, “only there’s the mood swings and the cliques and the crying at the drop of a hat….”
When Harry groaned, she let out a delighted chuckle. Before they could continue the conversation, the doorbell rang. Pushing herself out of her seat, Ginny was still laughing when she answered the door.
“Remus!” she greeted him with a grin. Although Ginny hadn’t been close to him while she was growing up the way that Harry had, she had got to know him quite well after the war with Voldemort ended. He still remained one of her favorite teachers. “It’s great to see you again!”
“You’re looking lovely,” Remus said, returning Ginny’s hug gently. He wasn’t sure if she was being cautious because of her pregnancy or because of the way he looked, but either way, he was glad that Ginny hadn’t greeted him too enthusiastically.
“Nonsense. I look like a beached whale, and feel like one too. It’s only for three more weeks, though,” Ginny said, leading Remus inside. “I thought we’d eat in the kitchen, if that’s okay. It’s getting harder for me to clean the dining room like I’d like to.”
Remus smiled. “That’s fine with me. I’m just happy to be getting a meal I didn’t have to cook. Hello, Harry!”
Harry turned around from setting the table to greet Remus with a careful hug. “Hello, Remus! Thanks for coming on such short notice.”
Remus shrugged. “I don’t mind doing it for you two. It’s always a joy to visit, no matter the subject.”
The rest of lunch passed pleasantly while Harry and Remus talked of acquaintances in the Order and Ginny ate the small amount of food she could handle. The baby was crowding her insides, sitting firmly on her bladder, and she had to leave twice. Harry gave her a teasing grin each time. The second time, when she came back everything was cleaned up from lunch and Harry and Remus had employed a cleaning charm to do the dishes.
Following the sound of voices, she found both men in the Library. Harry was seated on the loveseat, his arm stretched against the back as if he were waiting for her. Remus had chosen an armchair in Gryffindor red with its back to the fire.
“I’m back,” Ginny announced. “Remus, are you warm enough there?”
Remus smiled. “I’m fine, thank you for asking. I must really look terrible.”
Blushing, Ginny sat next to Harry and placed a hand on his knee. “Not terrible. Just not as healthy as we’ve got used to.”
“There was a mistake with the Wolfsbane Potion this month. Luckily, the only side effect seemed to be extreme nausea. In the wolf form and out of it,” Remus said, staring at the floor, seemingly embarrassed. “It’s harder for me to take that sort of thing now that I’m not as young as I used to be. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, though. I’m going to be fine.”
Ginny nodded. “Good.”
Harry leaned forward. “Remus, we want your opinion on something. Ginny’s been having these dreams.”
“Dreams that feel real,” Ginny interjected. “Scarily real.”
“They’re of… my mum. Right before she died.” Harry looked Remus directly in the eyes. “Last night she had a dream about you and mum. You were having breakfast, waiting for my dad to come back from… somewhere.”
“They seem real, you say,” Remus asked, focusing on a point beyond Ginny.
“Yes, very real. I can feel what she feels.”
“Is she always… pregnant?” Remus asked, rubbing a hand over his eyes.
“No. The first one was of the night… well, the night she died,” Ginny admitted
Remus rose from his chair suddenly and paced over to one of the bookshelves, running his fingers through his hair. “That had to be difficult to witness,” he finally said.
“Yes,” Ginny admitted. “I feel a bit like Lily’s trying… like she wants me to know about her.”
“You think she’s communicating with you?” Remus asked, still not looking at either one of them.
Harry shook his head. “We have no idea. I know Mum’s not a ghost.”
“Ghosts are just one manifestation of the echoes of our soul,” Remus said absently, staring off into space. “They’re the only ones formally recognized because they’re the strongest and because they’re a conscious form of the non-acceptance of death. Lily was… very much prepared to die for you, Harry.”
Ginny gripped Harry’s hand. “So you’re saying it’s possible that she’s doing this to me?”
“She wouldn’t be malicious about it,” Remus said, his hand shaking as he formed it into a fist and rested it on the shelf. “She was anything but.”
Ginny shook her head. “I think she wants me to know about her. I think she wants me to know what she went through.”
Remus was silent for a long time. “Family was important to Lily. She didn’t have the greatest one, but she did have James, and that meant the world to her. I think… I think she would have wanted you to know what she was like, because you’re her family now.”
Harry squeezed Ginny’s hand. “Why aren’t I the one having the dreams?”
Remus shrugged his shoulders. “I couldn’t say. My best guess is that Ginny and Lily are very close in age at the moment and in similar states of mind. It would be easier for Ginny to pick up on the ‘echoes’ of Lily’s emotions.”
“How do we make the dreams stop?” Harry asked intently. “If we don’t stop them soon, I’m afraid she’ll see…”
“Yes,” Remus said, interrupting Harry’s train of thought. Saying it out loud would be too painful to contemplate. “Lily did have one friend who survived the war. One female friend. Her name is Kathleen. At the time of James and Lily’s death, Kathleen was abroad in France. She disappeared from the wizarding world. We all assumed she was dead, but…. She’s in St. Mungo’s now, being treated for shock. Sometimes you can understand her and she can understand you. Maybe visiting her might give you some insight into Lily and what’s causing the dreams. I will do more research on my end, of course….”
“Why didn’t you say anything about that to me?” Harry asked, torn between anger and grief.
Remus shrugged and swallowed painfully. “I don’t know, Harry. I just don’t know.”
Author’s Notes: Thanks to Kat Morning for making sure Remus stayed in character and the melodrama stayed at a minimum. DPR helped me avoid comma and ellipse disasters.