Always By Your Side
None of them seemed to have noticed his presence and simply continued with what was a well-known ritual of their family. Remus was not sure if he really wanted to disturb them. Not only because they were such a peaceful sight, enjoying each other’s presence in silence, with only the occasional loving glance thrown in. Also – and the Marauder part of him hated to admit that – because he was afraid.
So he rather lingered there, frozen between the urge to flee back upstairs where Dora was waiting for him and the desperate wish to just get it over and done with.
“Do you think talking to him will send him running?” Ted suddenly spoke up, tone conversational.
“Maybe coffee will do the trick,” Andromeda answered contemplatively.
“You mean as a bait? Luring him into the supposed safety before we strike?” His wife nodded emphatically, barely managing to hide her smile.
Remus felt heat rushing into his cheeks. Of course they had noticed him. Clearing his throat, he made a small step forward, only to freeze again.
“How about you just sit down?” Andromeda looked at him, eyes filled with amusement.
“Yes, do that,” Ted added, voice filled with mock-concern. “I don’t know how we could explain to Dora that her husband-to-be fainted and knocked himself out before he could bring us the good news.”
Remus’ brain needed a couple of moments to register the older man’s words. Then, however, his head snapped up, surprised. And he was still speechless.
“I do believe you’ve broken him.” Ted only beamed at his wife. “Never thought I’d see him at a loss for words.”
“How?” Remus managed to sputter, as he finally made his way over to the table, to sink into one of the chairs right before he thought his legs would give out.
“Remus, dear,” Andromeda reached out to pat his cheek, “it was only a matter of time.”
“And it took you long enough,” Ted added chastising. Due to him still holding the knife, the smile on his face was not really comforting. When would the storm of protests and disapproving declarations of ‘we trusted you’ come? “Even Sirius knew.”
Remus groaned at that, half in annoyance at being reminded of countless ‘motivating’ speeches by his friend, half in pain at being reminded of said friend’s death.
Both of them were looking at him expectantly, which only made him want to bury his face in his hands to pretend he was anywhere than here. But then, he straightened his back and scolded himself. He had faced worse things than this. Even thinking back on McGonagall’s face when they had turned her – but no, this was definitely not the time for remembering old pranks. Especially while he was about to ask for something as serious as this.
Nodding once to himself, he got up again and looked at his hosts. “Since you already seem to know, I’ll just – I want to ask you for your daughter’s hand.” They stared at him for a moment, faces unmoved. Nervously he added, “Would you consider –“
At his formal tone – and probably the sweat on his forehead, too – Ted started grinning.
“There’s no one I’d rather have as my son-in-law,” he said. And, somehow, Remus believed him.
“Geez, Remus,” Dora’s voice came from the door, “I thought you’d never get it done.”
Sputtering he turned around. “What – How?”
“You took so long, I felt I needed to see if you fainted somewhere,” then she added mockingly, “As an Auror I am supposed to save my fair share of damsels in mistress.”
“You didn’t think we’d do something to him, did you?” Ted asked disbelievingly, carelessly waving around the knife in his hand.
“Nah,” she shook her head, though the small glance towards her mother betrayed her doubts.
“Please,” Andromeda snorted, “As if you have ever listened to me before, even if I had any objections.”
“So you don’t -” Dora and Remus asked, looking at each other sheepishly.
Then Remus ran a hand through his hair. “I mean, thank you. Really. This is –“
“It’s only something to make you officially a part of the family,” Ted declared, voice firm and honest. “Though I am a bit disappointed, that both of you had doubts about our reaction. We’ve known for ages.”
All tension left Remus’ shoulders, and the smile on his lips was wide and real. Funny, really, how worried he had been after fighting this so long himself. He still had his doubts at times, mostly when Dora was out, at work or on some Order mission, when it was easier to ignore how right they felt. But this was usually fast forgotten, when Dora came home tired and weary, and a simple hug or kiss made her face brighten and her back straighten with new energy.
Right now she seemed just as relieved at him, and made her way over to lean into his warmth. His arms wrapped around her of their own accord.
“Look at them,” Ted sighed dramatically. “To be young and in love.”
Andromeda chuckled, and shook her head at her husband’s antics.
“Well,” Dora said quietly, voice serious even while her content smile never wavered. “I do hope we’ll follow your example and stay happy until we’re old and grey.”
No joke followed. Only confident nods. “I have no doubt that you will.”
“You look beautiful, my dear,” Dora blushed at that. She did not seem a day older than four, radiating vitality like she always did when he had taken her on ‘adventures’.
“Dad,” she groaned, caught between embarrassment and utter joy – for the happiness in her father’s eyes and because this day had really come, despite all the obstacles and arguing.
“What,” he exclaimed playfully. “I’m allowed to be sentimental right before I give my daughter over to another man. No matter that I consider him my son already.”
He had said it before, still she threw herself into his arms, whispering a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ into his ear.
During all those month in which they had barely spoken, because Remus refused to ‘condemn her to a life of shame’ due to him being ‘too old and too poor and, oh, don’t forget that small part about him being a werewolf’, Ted had sat down with him, slowly undermining her husband-to-be’s resistance without seeming to do so.
She had never asked how he had done it, but she guessed her mother had thrown in a couple of words, too, so it really was no wonder that Remus had given in eventually.
Dora would have managed that on her own, of course, but the war and their position in it made it easy to let her pride go and hurry the whole process up. Who knew how much time they had left.
“Well then, lets get you in there.”
Both of them pretended not to notice the tears gathering in Ted’s eyes. Instead they smiled and he took her arm, squeezing it once, and then they entered the small church where he and Andromeda had been wed a lifetime ago.
Similar to their wedding, there were few guests. Ted’s mother, almost-blind by now but smiling nonetheless and Kingsley, who had been her mentor during Auror training and one of the few colleagues who could be trusted.
When they had reached their destination at the small altar, Ted found it not at all difficult to lay his daughter’s hand into one of the man awaiting them in impatience and happy disbelief.
“How beautiful you are,” Remus breathed in wonder, the light in his amber eyes rivalling even the sun.
Ted chuckled softly. “That’s what I said.” They did not seem to hear him, but looked at each other intensely, love radiating off them like warmth.
He nodded once at the waiting priest and stepped towards his seat next to Andromeda.
“I am happy for them,” she whispered, contentment written all over her face, a rare sight these days, with their side being slowly driven back. “May they have all the time in the world.”
“Have you put up additional wards around your flat?” Ted asked later, when they sat together enjoying a calm evening before everything went back to business and war. “You can always stay with us. There is more than enough room.”
Remus smiled at him, truly grateful, but shook his head. “I went about it last week with Bill Weasley. He’s brilliant with wards.”
Relieved, but not really satisfied – how could he be with his daughter’s safety on the line? – Ted added, “Is it enough?”
No one knew an answer to that. Would anything be enough if Voldemort decided that he wanted them dead?
“I wish you wouldn’t be in the Auror Corps,” Andromeda spoke up, but waved her words away almost instantly when she saw Dora open her mouth to protest, though she did not look apologetic at all. “I know. I would just be sleeping better if you weren’t in the front line all the time.”
“I’m in the Order, too, Mum. I’ll always –“
Remus laid a hand on her arm. “At least you learned how to protect yourself properly. And you might even get a warning before something major happens. The Ministry does have its information system.”
“If it doesn’t fall like last time.” Grim nods went all around.
Then Ted looked up at his son-in-law. “Will the Order send you out again to treat with the werewolves?” There was more than curiosity in his voice, trepidation maybe.
“They will try, I think,” Remus replied. “Following Dumbledore’s plans and all that. But I will not go. They didn’t listen when there was peace. The situation for Dark Creatures has grown worse since then. So why would their answer change?”
After a sideward glance at his wife – and how giddy the mere thought of that words made him – he continued, “Also I have a reason to stay home now. No one will make me leave if I don’t have to.”
Though Remus’ voice sounded casual, the expression in his eyes was not. Determination lay there, fear for this new-found happiness, love.
Dora smiled at him, his feelings mirrored on her face. “And I wouldn’t let you go.”
Without words they decided to stop talking about the war looming over their heads and souls. Instead they traded stories and jokes like any other family would, rejoicing in their short moment of infinity. And what did it matter, if they clung a bit harder to recalling childhood’s innocence than they might have during more peaceful times.
Right there and then, they were alive.
“Thank you,” Remus said later, when they were home and preparing for bed. “For being so stubborn and for refusing to giving up on making me see sense.”
Dora started laughing, turning to embrace him.
“You make me the happiest man on earth.” It was cheesy, but he just did not care about that.
She kissed him briefly before speaking herself. “Thank you. For seeing reason and being there for me whenever I needed you. You make me the happiest woman on earth.” A playful smile appeared on her lips. “Well, actually, I know how you could make me even happier.”
“Oh, pray tell, my dear wife,” he breathed, drawing circles on her back, letting his hands wander slowly deeper. “How would I do that?”
They kissed again, longer this time, hard and soft and longing, full of promises and happy endings.
“Maybe you should slay the dragon before you run off with the princess?” Dora navigated them over to the bed, taking care to never lose skin contact. “You are, however, very lucky, because this princess is way too impatient to wait.”
When she lowered herself onto the mattress, he refused to be pulled down with her. Instead he looked at her, concerned.
“I don’t know if I can do this.” Dora started pouting, making him grin. “But I guess a bit of encouragement would aid me greatly, so I can continue my quest with new energy.”
“I’m sure it will,” she laughed cheekily. “If you are able to get up afterwards.”
Mock-growling, he jumped at her, catching her lips in another kiss, while long fingers made short work of his shirt buttons. “We’ll see who won’t be able to walk come morning.”
They did not get much sleep that night, for once for all the right reasons. And still, dawn came way too soon, no matter how desperately they clung to the darkness and that chance to be nothing but two souls in love, holding each other close as if that could keep out the world.But morning came, and with it duty and responsibility and all the things they needed to save. And of course they got up without complaining, preparing to fight their battles one by one. They had never been more determined to win – now that they had everything to lose again.