Tonks/Remus Backstory Who: Remus Lupin and Tonks When: After Harry Potter's funeral (BACKSTORY- Takes place in 5-years between old plot and reboot) What: Starting anew Where: Tonks' flat Rating: PG
Funerals were the hardest part. Not a day went by when there wasn't another to attend--her father's, Charlie's, and now Harry's. It was an endless parade of mourning and death, and the only thing holding her together was Gabe.
She had to sit in the back for most, with the exception of her father's, just in case the baby started to cry, but for the most part, he was extremely well-behaved.
It wasn't Gabriel's behaviour that concerned her. After they'd discovered Harry was--gone, Remus had disintegrated. He'd been in and out of the flat since they'd heard, and she worried about him excessively while he was gone. Gabe kept her busy, but Remus--after everything he'd gone through, she worried he would do something rash.
She waited for him after the funeral, holding Gabe in one arm and the baby bag in another. The baby began to cry, and she comforted him as best she could while searching the sea of faces for Remus. The crowd was thick, the reporters everywhere, and eventually she gave up on finding him and Apparated home.
"Let's get you changed and in your crib," she murmured, setting the bag down and heading into the nursery.
By now, he'd ought to be used to funerals (especially ones attended by the media) but there was little about attending the funeral of a young adult that Remus would ever be used to. There was a sense of deja-vu back to the funeral for Lily and James, the memories of which Remus had long since buried inside. He sequestered himself in a corner of the huge crowd, hidden in a group of varied Ministry employees that were less likely to point him out than the Order crowd. He stayed only for the service, not wanting to approach the coffin or mingle with the other mourners. He'd made his way quickly to the security perimeter of the memorial and stepped outside the wards to Apparate.
He didn't really think about where he was going but when his feet hit the ground, he was in the cemetery at Godric's Hollow where Lily and James were interred. There were later plans to bury Harry alongside them, but for now there were still two simple stones. He hadn't been to visit in many years and found himself curled up on the grass, head in his hands.
The guilt and grief were so overwhelming he thought for a moment he'd lost the ability to breathe. Taking a huge, shuddering breath, he tried to stop the trembling in his hands and looked at the stones, pained.
"I'm sorry," he said simply.
There wasn't much else to say. He'd failed Lily and James. He'd failed Dumbledore. He'd failed Harry.
And Tonks. Shite, there was Tonks. And his son.
It was getting dark and he was exhausted. He'd been in places like this before; with no place to go home and no desire to go anywhere new.
Well, he could go back to Tonks' flat. He'd drifted in and out over the past week, stopping occasionally to change clothes and shower. The rest of the week he'd floated between pubs, the Shrieking Shack, and whatever bookshop would tolerate him sitting in a corner and reading without buying. It wasn't that he didn't want to see Tonks or talk to her, it was just that he needed time to process everything. It was like living his life seventeen years in the past all over again.
But now it was time to go home, or at least to the place he now considered most like a home. As much as he didn't like admitting to himself that he loved her, Tonks was a bit of sunshine in his life and he needed her right now. He Apparated back to the alley alongside the flat and trudged upstairs, fumbling in his pocket for the key and entering, shutting the door quietly behind him.
The nursery door was ajar and he stepped inside, spotting Tonks leaning over the crib. With a quick stride, he crossed the room and wrapped his arms around her tightly.
Tonks heard the door open, and immediately she was on alert, her hand lingering near her wand. But the war was over now. The Death Eaters were being rounded up, and the dangers were few and far between.
Rabastan Lestrange, for killing Rodolphus? Another Death Eater?
Tonks took a deep breath when she heard the familiar footsteps in the hallway. She hardly dared to believe he would come home, but maybe Harry's funeral had given him the closure he needed.
She set Gabe down, and just as she straightened up, she felt his arms around her. It was a desperate embrace, she thought; not romantic or a greeting, and she hugged him back tightly.
"Wotcher," she whispered, without her usual cheerfulness. That brightness was gone and had been since the end of the battle; only Gabe got brief glimpses of it, and without Remus, she didn't know how long it would be until it came back. Until he did, she supposed.
He didn't speak for a while but just held her. He hadn't held her like this in any recent memory and he felt something inside release and relax just a little. Finally, he slid his arms from around her and reached into the crib to stroke Gabe's head.
"I'm sorry," he said simply. It seemed to be his mantra this month.
He was so incredibly exhausted he was sure he could just lie down alongside the crib and be at peace for a while. Instead, he pressed a hand to his mouth in a kiss and transferred it to the sleeping Gabe before taking Tonks' hand.
"Just come lie with me," he said. "Please."
He was here. He was with her and Gabe. As far as Tonks was concerned, he had nothing to be sorry for. Everyone grieved differently, and if she didn't have Gabe, there was no telling what she would have done in the wake of the battle.
"It's okay," she said. She could have pressed the issue, but there was no point. Rubbing his back when he let go, she couldn't help the sense of relief that washed over her when he greeted Gabe. At least he wasn't so lost that he didn't want to be around his son. That was all she could ask for.
"Of course," she said gently. Gabriel was already half-asleep, worn out from all of the action that day, and with luck, they would have no interruptions. Leading him into the next room, her bedroom--theirs when he wanted--she toed off her shoes and removed her jacket. This was all she wanted today, to be with him and just let the world pass them by.
He followed silently, leaving his shoes by the bedside and stretching out, tucking his feet beneath the quilt and resting his head in the crook of her shoulder.
"I didn't want to be alone," he said. "Not this time."
It wasn't something he'd normally admit to anyone, but this was Tonks and he'd grown to trust her as much as he'd trusted James and Sirius and Peter. He'd been careful, given in history with one of the aforementioned, but he knew now she was trustworthy. And now, he was too worn out to bother with filtering his thoughts.
"I failed him," he added. "Harry. And his parents. I just wanted to come home."
She wrapped her arm around his shoulders and gave him a kiss on the forehead. This was more than she'd thought she'd get for a long time, if he'd ever decided to come back.
"You're not alone," she said. "You always have a place here with me and Gabe, okay? Always." She couldn't stress enough just how much she wanted him to feel at home with her and their son, but it wasn't something either of them could force. With luck, it could come in time.
"You didn't fail him," she said. "None of this is your fault. What happened, happened, and it's terrible, but there's nothing you could have done to change things." Touching his cheek for a moment, she added softly, "Harry was an adult. He made his decision, and he saved the United Kingdom. He's going to live forever in our memories, and the best thing any of us can do is honour him and carry on everything he died for."
He released a sigh that was neither a denial nor an agreement.
"I know," he said numbly. "But I wasn't there for him. I wasn't. And I haven't been here for you either."
Pressing a thumb gently to her cheek, he stroked up to her temple.
"I know I'm not easy. And you've been so patient. I can't think what I did to deserve that."
"You're you," said Tonks simply. "That's what you did to deserve this. And I love you no matter what's going on around us or what we're going through, all right? Don't forget that."
She curled up against him as best she could and ran her fingers through his hair. "None of us were there for Harry the way we should have been. It feels--like we could have done something differently, but I don't think we could have. In the end, it was always going to be You-Know-Who and Harry. None of us were in that equation."
She sighed. No amount of comfort was going to change what had happened, but she hoped that Remus would eventually realise it wasn't his fault. "You're here for me now," she murmured. "And you have the chance to be there for Gabe. You can give him what James couldn't give Harry."
* The thought of that made his chest constrict for a moment. The memory of James holding Harry for the first time became incredibly vivid in his mind and he closed his eyes, allowing himself to remember it fully. James had beamed with excitement unlike anything Remus had ever seen before that day. It was a feeling Remus hadn't understood until he saw Gabriel.
If James hadn't been there for Harry and Remus hadn't either, then the least thing Remus could do was be there for his own son. It was the right thing, penance or no penance.
"Can I stay?" he asked. "I just need to sleep. I'll get up if Gabe cries though. If I sleep through it, kick me."
His question surprised her. "Of course," she said. "This is your home too. If you want, I can sleep on the couch." She paused, and not wanting him to get the wrong idea, she added, "I'd like to stay in here with you. I want you to stay in here with me. But if you would rather be alone, I understand."
She shook her head. "You need sleep. I can handle Gabe for a few hours, but I bet he'll be out for a while. It's been a long day for all of us."
She couldn't put into words how much it warmed her to hear him talking about Gabe and wanting to be part of his life--of their lives. She'd spent countless hours wondering if he would stay or convince himself that he didn't deserve them, and she couldn't stand the thought of him walking away because of that.
"I love you," she said softly. "You know that, right? We both do. Gabe--he's happier when you're here. So am I."
"No, please stay," he said. "Stay. I want nothing more than to have you here."
He tugged up the sheets, nesting alongside her and exhaling a long, deep breath.
"I love you too," he replied. "Even if I'm not always ace at showing it."
His speech was slowly beginning to slur as sleep took over.
"'m really lucky I 'ave you."
"Okay," she said, smoothing the sheets over him and curling up beside him. This felt--right. More right than anything had in a really long time.
Brushing his hair out of his eyes, she watched as he began to fall asleep, and she was determined to wait until he was unconscious before she fell asleep as well. Waking up every few hours to take care of Gabe was taking its toll on her, but having Remus here and with her was more than worth a few minutes of remaining awake.
"You don't have to be ace at showing it," she whispered. "I know you do. And I'm really lucky to have you too. Gabe and I both are."
Remus woke up early, blinking sleep from his eyes and yawning widely. Tonks was still asleep at his side and he slid out from the covers, careful not to disturb her. He put a pot of tea on in the kitchen and was just about to add sugar to his cup when he heard Gabriel begin to fuss. Teacup in hand, he went into his son's room and left the cup on the nightstand, scooping the baby up into his arms and nestling him against his shoulder.
"Good morning," he said, pressing his lips to the top of the boy's head. "Don't fuss too much. You'll wake mummy."
He settled down in the rocking chair by the window after changing Gabe's nappy (which took a good ten minutes. He wasn't quite accustomed to it yet). Outside, birds perched on a wire and the sun was just peeking over the neighboring buildings. He retrieved one of the formula bottles from nearby, tapping it with his wand and heating it instantly. With Gabe happily suckling away, he rocked mindlessly, watching the morning come.
When Gabe was done eating, Remus tucked him against his chest, closing his housecoat around the baby and holding him there gently.
"There," he said. "Cozy, right?"
The child batted a hand against Remus neck and cooed.
Closing his eyes, he leaned back in the chair and just enjoyed the bit of time with his son. He'd been scared that Gabe would cry and not really recognize him, but the child seemed eager to snuggle. Maybe babies could just tell when someone needed them, like animals.
Tonks got up through the night when Gabriel woke up, and she was careful not to rouse Remus when she did so. He certainly deserved a good night's sleep, and she was more than willing to sacrifice some of hers for him.
But by the end of the night, as the morning came, she was exhausted and slept right through his fussing. Underneath the delicious warmth of the blankets, she curled up, her hand drifting over toward Remus's empty pillow like it usually did when she was half-asleep.
It took her a little while, but finally she opened her eyes, realising that for the first morning in a long time, Remus was supposed to be in bed, and he wasn't. Rubbing her eyes, she glanced around the room. No sign of him.
Tonks sighed. Had he left already? One night was better than none, she supposed, but she wished--
She froze halfway out of bed. It was light out, and she hadn't gotten up to tend to Gabe in hours.
Pulling on her dressing gown, she shuffled out of the bedroom and took a deep breath. There was a tea kettle on the stove. Holding her breath, she tiptoed into the nursery and barely held back her sob of relief.
Remus was still here. He was here, and he was holding Gabe. She made a mental note to take a picture that morning just in case.
"Morning," she said softly, not wanting to wake Gabe in case he was asleep. She leaned against the doorjamb and smiled. "Sleep well?"
He looked up with a small smile.
"Well enough," he replied. "Better than I have in a while, at least."
Shifting Gabe to a better spot on his chest, he looked down at the baby and laughed.
"He's so big now," he said. "I remember when Harry was this age. I was so terrified to hold him, but then again, I guess any boy barely in his twenties would be. It's the curse of being only children...no siblings to practice on. I bet Bill and Charlie were experts by the time the twins came along."
"C'mere," he said to Gabe, standing with the child still wrapped in his robe, and walked over to Tonks, giving her a light peck on the cheek. "Let's sit out here where there's a spot for all of us. I need some more tea before I'm fully awake."
Once she realised that Gabe was awake, she straightened and laughed along with Remus. "Bill and Charlie are Weasleys. I think child-rearing is in their blood, and it's hardly fair to yourself to compare. Between the two of us, I say we've done a pretty bloody good job so far."
Returning Remus's peck on the cheek, she peered down at Gabe, pleased he looked so happy. She hadn't been lying when she'd said that Gabriel was a happier baby with Remus around, and seeing the two of them together was almost enough to wash away the black spot the past few weeks had left on their lives, at least for a little while.
"Mm, tea." She led the way to the kitchen and grabbed mugs and the like. "I've been living off the stuff. Has Gabe eaten?" she said. "Have you? I can fix something up, if you'd like. Beans and toast or eggs, or whatever you'd like, really."
"He took some formula," Remus replied. "I haven't had anything but tea. Toast would be lovely, actually. Maybe eggs if you're up for it."
Gabe moved to his hip, he added sugar to his second cup of tea and stirred it while Tonks moved about the kitchen. When they were finally settled with breakfast cooking, he deposited Gabe in his high-chair with a set of toy rubber rings to shake."
"Did you see Ron or Hermione at all yesterday? I bumped into Bill for a second but I mostly managed to avoid everyone."
Tonks in the kitchen was a bit of a danger--more than a bit, really--but she was learning. Toast she could do. It was the part where eggs came in that was tricky, but she couldn't very well order out for breakfast.
"Toast and tea it is," she said, and she went about preparing the stove and the like. Really, she ought to be able to make breakfast. It wasn't that bloody difficult. "I didn't see anyone, really. I sat in the back in case Gabe started to fuss, but he was good." She frowned. "Ron and Hermione must be having a hell of a time of it."
Once the toast was on and the eggs were sizzling in the frying pan, she glanced at Remus again. Seeing him with Gabe like this, like how it should be, hurt. Not because she didn't want this, but because she wanted it so badly and had no idea if Remus was going to stick around or not.
"So," she said hesitantly, not wanting to bring it up, but she couldn't stand the tension and stress of not knowing. Not on top of raising Gabe. "Are you going to...you know. Stay for a while?"
He should have suspected the question would come. After all, he'd been wildly inconsistent up to this point and she had no reason to suspect he'd change. Stirring his tea idly, he stared at the swirling liquid, unsure of what to say.
"I want to," he began slowly. "I do, love. I just...I need you to be patient with me, I guess. And you've done that already, I know. I..."
He bit his lip, considering the next phrase.
"Most things in my life haven't lasted, Tonks. I've been sort of conditioned to expect the worst and to just run from it. Everything I've ever known has been a cycle of good followed by a bad ending and me going off to somewhere new. And I know, I know this isn't like that. I want this to be the end of all these circles. But it's going to take me a while. I can't promise it'll be easy and I'm likely going to need you to keep reminding me that this is where I should be."
She didn't blame him. Whatever he thought about her and her intentions, she honestly didn't blame him for what he was going through and his seeming lack of commitment to their family. He'd lost the final connection he had to what he must have considered to be the best years of his life. He felt like he'd failed his best friends. Of course he was going to have a hard time with a son and a new family, especially at this point in his life--she just wanted to plan. And maybe help him decide if he wasn't sure.
Tonks listened as he spoke, and once he finished, she took a deep breath, slid the fried eggs off the pan, and said gently, "I'll remind you as often as you need me to. And I hope when you look at Gabe and hold him--I hope that'll remind you, too. We're not going anywhere, Remus, I promise. I'm not going anywhere, and that little boy is going to love you unconditionally for the rest of your life. And if you let me, I will too."
Bringing the plate of toast and eggs over to Remus, she set them down in front of him and gave him a kiss on the forehead. "Take as long as you need, and once you're ready, we'll be here waiting."
There was something very sweet about her kisses to the forehead and he found himself grinning a little.
"I don't think I plan on going anywhere anytime soon," he said, taking up his fork and stabbing a mouthful's worth of eggs. "You shouldn't have to wait."
Taking a bite, he added "These are good!" between chews. "I'm rotten at eggs, but I can make decent beans and sausage. Maybe tomorrow morning."
It warmed her to hear that, even if she was wary to believe it just yet. Any number of things could happen in the next few days--hell, in the next few hours--and while she wanted to think that Remus wanted to be with them as much as she wanted him to stay, people were more complicated than that. Remus was more complicated than that.
"Tomorrow morning then," she said with a smile as she sat beside him with her own plate. Brushing her fingers against Gabriel's cheek, she started to eat as well, hoping against hope that he would still be there tomorrow morning. One day at a time--that was all she dared to ask for.