Andromeda’s face was a mask, made of stone and ice and helplessness. Even knowing there was nothing he could possibly do, Remus felt like he should go over to her, promise her bitter-sweet nothings or – anything, really. He did not, however, because her daughter needed him more.
Dora clung to him, fingers digging painfully into his arm while he held her close. She was trembling, though he could not say if it was because of fear, sadness or underlying fury. He was not so sure about his own feelings, either.
On the outside, Ted seemed to be the only one unfazed by the storm that the news from the Ministry had brought into the Tonks’ home.
Muggleborn Registration Act they called it. A simple thing to catalogue Magical Britain’s population.
Dora had found other words for it; barbaric and unfair and not right. She had ranted for hours, angry and impossible to calm, while her parents took one long look at each other and knew without words, what that meant for them.
It did not make it easier.
And now there he was, husband and father and good friend, about to turn into a run-away, hunted by the same law-office his daughter was working for.
Still, Ted smiled at them, small and sad, and his eyes held all the things he dared not say because they would make leaving impossible. Then, one last check to see if he had all the things needed to survive out there in a world torn by war, even while he left the most important ones behind.
“Well, I guess this is it,” his voice was hoarse, full of emotions, and his smile wavered.
Remus softly loosened Dora’s fingers and stepped forward, intent on giving the family time on their own after he had said his good-byes. He was slightly surprised when the older man hugged him, overwhelmed, too, because all of them had become his family, and losing one of them, especially like this, was ripping him apart.
“Keep my girls safe,” Ted whispered into his ear.
“Always,” Remus croaked through his painfully constricted throat, not managing to say anything more.
When he stepped back, Dora rushed in to take his place, throwing herself into her father’s arms, holding him for what might very well be the last time.
He quietly made his way over to the door to the kitchen to give them privacy while finding something – anything – to keep him occupied.
A hand on his arm stopped him and when he snapped up his head, he met Andromeda’s dark grey eyes.
“Stay,” she said simply. “You are family, too.”
Remus smiled, strained and painful, but honest. When he nodded his acceptance, she turned around to her husband.
“Dora,” at any other time that would have elicited laughter. Andromeda using her daughter’s nickname. In this moment, however, it was just another reminder, of impossible things happening. “There is no time.”
Dora sobbed loudly and, for a moment, they held onto each other even closer, before Ted pushed her away softly.
“Don’t cry, darling,” Remus would have loved to feel as confident as Ted’s voice sounded. “I’ll be back in no time.”
After Voldemort is dead. After we have won. If we win.
None of them said that aloud, not while things looked as bad as they did these days. Not with the Ministry run by Death Eaters and Hogwarts turned into a pureblood school, where children were tortured not taught. Not while their only hope had disappeared, on some obscure mission none of them knew about.
“Take care, Dad.” Ted kissed Dora on the forehead, then pushed her towards Remus. She nodded, clearly gathering her courage, and left their parents while returning to her own safe spot in Remus’ arms.
There were tears still running down her cheeks, but she didn’t try to wipe them away, not ashamed for missing her father before he was gone – and she knew they would be replaced by new ones almost instantly.
Remus shushed her while she buried her face in his chest, not willing to actually see the door close behind Ted. He, however, had to see.
The Registration Act did not surprise him at all, having known prejudice for all his life. And, following Voldemort’s goals, this was only to be expected. Ted’s decision to leave was another matter altogether.
In a way, it made sense. Most of all, he would probably be safer on the run, than hiding in one of the Order safe houses – not that there were many left – or actively fighting by their side. Also, it was better for his family, who could then claim truthfully that they did not know where he was and that they had broken off all contact and allegiance with him. That would keep Andromeda out of trouble for siding and “sullying” her blood with a muggleborn, and Dora could keep working at the Ministry, being an inside source.
Which she would not. Despite several protests from other Order members. But he, and Andromeda, were more than happy with that decision. Having her at the front lines was dangerous enough. Sending her into off into the infiltrated Ministry would be even more so. And there, none of them could protect her.
“Stay safe,” Ted’s voice ripped him out of his musings. He had his bag in hand and a determined expression on his face.
This was it, then.
Funny, really, how such a simple act of a door closing and a friend leaving like he had done a thousand times before, could leave them so hollow, so heavy with fear and grief.
How long would it be until they would hear from him again? How long until they could hold him in their arms, and see him smile? How long – if it would happen at all. If there were any of them left a week from now, a month, a year.
They kept standing there in the entrance hall, silent, staring at dark polished wood that did not open again, no matter how hard all of them willed it to. Dora’s face was still against his chest. He could feel warm tears moisten his shirt and her hands clutching at his back.
An eternity later, Andromeda moved. “I’ll make tea,” she sounded as if she was wondering how tea could make any of this better. And she half expected no water to come out of the tap, or their stove to be broken, but everything worked just as fine as it always did.
It seemed wrong, somehow. And she thought, not for the first time, that she’d rather fight off a dozen Death Eaters than face this alone, the silence, the empty house, the not knowing whether Ted was still alive.
Then Remus entered, half-carrying Dora and gently seating her at the table. He took the kettle out of Andromeda’s trembling hands and pushed her, too, to sit down.
None of them said anything while he busied himself with preparing the tea, or for long after. But, somehow, them being there made it just a tiny bit better. Her daughter’s tear-strained face, Remus’ caring glances.
It made her remember that she was not in this alone.
For the time being, they had moved in with Andromeda. The house was big enough to give all the occupants some time alone when needed, but, overall, it helped all of them to have someone around, to keep up some kind of normalcy while outside the walls, their world was slowly burning down.
There had not yet been word of Harry and the Order missions themselves were not going well at all. But as soon as the door closed behind them, they managed to keep up that fragile illusion of peace.
“Stop reading, Remus,” Dora called over from the bed, voice slightly impatient. She never had patience these days when it came to their private time. “I’m waiting for you.”
Throwing her a seemingly uninterested look, he shrugged. “You know, this is rather fascinating. I think I’ll just finish this chapter.” Ignoring her groan, he continued. “And maybe the next one, too. Who knows if I’ll have time tomorrow.”
“Remus?” she asked, word drawn out, but he raised a hand and interrupted whatever she wanted to add, without even so much as looking up again.
“Did you just?” she harrumphed and he had to hide a grin behind his book – only to be caught completely by surprise when a pillow hit him right in the head.
“Oi,” he exclaimed, too busy with not falling off his chair to say anything more coherent. At her giggling, he glared at her. “Do you think this is funny?”
When she merely nodded, he cracked a grin and got up, crossing his arms before walking over to her. “Well, it seems we have to do something about this then,” he announced in his sternest voice.
Dora waggled her eyebrows at him cheekily, but when he dived for her, she squealed and tried to squirm out of the way of his fingers who, after so many years and tickling wars, knew exactly where to go.
“Mercy,” she cried out.
He only laughed at that. “Did you have mercy at me just now?” She nodded. “Did you – what?” At his asking glance she nodded again. “You mean you had mercy?” Remus sounded confused, which elicited another round of giggles.
“Of course I did,” Dora looked at him with wide, innocent eyes. “I decided to give you another chance, instead of just getting up and going downstairs to play chess with my mum.” Grinning, she added, “A very long game. It might have gone on the whole night.”
Remus raised one eyebrow at that. “So, you would have left me all alone up here?” Suddenly he grinned widely. “Great, do just that, so I can go back to my book.”
Upon her incredulous expression, he managed to hold the innocent look on his face for all of three seconds, before he started laughing and bent down to kiss her. When he was mere inches from her, she pushed against his chest.
“You, my dear husband, will pay for that,” shrugging she continued, “Later. Now, we’ve got better things to do.”
She raised her head and her lips met his with longing tenderness. Burying a hand in his hair, she pulled him down on her and he willingly followed her. His fingers moved down her sides, knowing just where she liked them best, causing her to lean into him.
“Do you still want to go and read,” she teased when they parted,
“Do you still want to go and play chess with your mother?”
“Could you just not talk about my mum right now?” Dora groaned, causing him to chuckle.
“As my Lady commands,” he leaned down, trailing kisses across her collarbone. “We could talk about Greagot’s Third Law of Arithmancy instead.”
“Or we could not talk at all.” But, withdrawing slightly, she started nibbling at her lip. “Although, there is something I wanted to tell you.”
Her voice had grown serious, causing Remus to sit up at once, eyeing her with concern. “Did something happen?”
“No,” shaking her head she corrected herself. “I mean, yes, but nothing bad. In fact, I think it is something wonderful.”
It seemed as if her whole being was smiling at him. And that made his own lips curl upward on their own regard. “Did you get news from Ted?”
A shadow flickered through her eyes, but it was almost instantly gone again. They hadn’t heard anything from her father ever since he left, but they tried to stay positive. So it had to be something very good indeed, if it made her forget about their missing family member, even if only for a while.
“No, but – Remus, I’m pregnant.”
He did not smile. He did not kiss her again. In fact, he did not react at all.
“Remus,” Dora repeated after a time filled with only tense silence, now almost uncertain. “We –“
Her words were lost somewhere in the air between them, and he did not hear them, but their meaning was already settling deep into his bones, cold and heavy.
“A child,” Remus rasped, never noticing her hurt expression when he got up from the bed abruptly, turning away from her.
“Yes,” she insisted stubbornly, following him, not willing to be shut out. “Our child.”
“This is impossible,” and the way he desperately glanced around the whole room made it seem like he did not only mean her being pregnant, but the whole situation between them.
“Well, actually,” Dora drawled, good mood vanished completely, but was interrupted.
“You don’t understand,” by now he sounded almost angry. And that was not at all the reaction she had pictured. Of course, this was not the best time. They were in a war, and they found themselves fighting every other day, but they were in love, and it felt right, and she knew they would manage.
“You don’t understand,” he repeated, running a hand through his hair, positively growling.
“What?” Dora snapped. She had enough of this and stepped right in front of him, forcing him to look at her. Though as soon as their eyes met, she wished she hadn’t. His were dark and filled with a right chaos of mixing emotions: desperation, disbelief, a little bit of (forbidden) joy perhaps, but most of all fear.
“Remus,” she tried again, more softly this time, taking his face in between her hands. “We can do this.”
Ripping his head away, he shook his head. “This is not about the very high probability that neither of us will survive this bloody war. Or about me being too old, and this just being ridiculously wrong.” That hurt, but she refused to show him how much.
“Then what is this about, Mr. I’m-Not-Good-Enough?” she had intended her voice to sound more scathing, but she just could not. This was not going at all like she had thought.
Closing his eyes, Remus continued much more quietly than before. “No one knows what – We – My kind doesn’t usually breed.”
His kind? Breed? Anger was rushing through Dora’s veins. Of all the things-
“Are you serious?” she asked in a dangerously low voice. “Do you want to tell me that –“
“I told you you wouldn’t understand,” he all but roared. Then straightened up and turned to the door. Right before he could disappear through it, he spoke up again, tonelessly and somehow detached.
“Don’t wait up for me.”
With that he was gone, hasting down the stairs, trying to calm the storm raging in his mind.A child. A child. What had he done?