How To Be A Hero

This Might Be Heaven

“It is over,“ Remus’ voice was hoarse, just like it was after particularly bad full moons. Now though, there was no pain in it, not much at least. There was joy, disbelief, and that overwhelming thought of all the possibilities ahead of them.

“Yes it is.”

When he had spotted Dora during the battle, his heart had seemed to stop. There had been so many terrible things, children fighting, running, dying, Death Eaters throwing curse after curse without any regard for all the things they destroyed, Hogwarts, his home, in ruins, burning, turned into a place of death.

A strange calmness had filled him ever since he had left home and his family behind, all nervousness and fear pushed down. He knew what he had to do, what was on the line.

So he had fought, shielded his former students as best as he could and tried to buy them time at least when he could not. Determination ruled his mind while he locked away all unnecessary thoughts, fixing his gaze on silver masks, not on what he knew lay behind.

He had fought against a couple persons clad in black with green trimmings. Children, he thought, just like the rest of them.

But that could not stop him. If he allowed his conscience to take over, he had already lost.

And that was something he could not do. Not with Dora and Teddy waiting for him at home. His wife and son.

With that thought echoing in his ears, it was easy to do his part, to stand strong and leave the mourning already singing in his bones for later.

That was until, suddenly, she was there, right in front him, eyes wide and relieved – and nothing else mattered.

Never turn your back to your opponent, he had told his students during duelling lessons. Never take your eyes off him. For then you are vulnerable.

But he did. His arm fell to his side, lifeless, and only years of training and war kept him from loosing his wand as all strength seemed to leave his body.

“Dora,” he mouthed, never seeing Dolohov cast the spell that had already cost so many lives this day, or Lestrange closing in from the side. It was only them, with the storm continuing to rage around them.

Luckily for them, Dora was an Auror through and through.

For a moment she simply stood just as frozen as him, small smile gracing her lips, eyes closed for one eternal moment that he believed would be his last, but then she flared to life with the fire she was so well known for.

Without sparing even a glance behind her, she pointed at her cousin and only the satisfying sound of a small explosion and a pained yelp told her she had hit. Then she was moving, faster and with surer steps than her usual clumsiness would have allowed in any other situation.

Here, however, it was pure instinct driving her.

Not bothering with putting up a shield, she merely bounded into her husband, sending both of them sprawling. The green light shooting over them made her heart stop for a moment before she snapped back into action, jumped to her feet and cast another blast towards Dolohov, taking him out. For good. Not that she minded.

“Remus,” she then offered, sounding more calm than she had any right to be. Though she knew the shock would come later. For now, though, they had a battle to win.

They made sure to stay close together for the rest of this living nightmare, guarding each other’s back, sparing a half-second every now and then to touch each other briefly or to share a look, just to reassure them that their world had not stopped spinning.

And then, it was over.

“We should get back,” Dora suggested half-heartedly, pressing herself deeper into Remus’ side.

With his arms around her, she felt almost safe again, though she knew it would take time to deal with all that had happened around them these past hours.

“It is over,” he merely repeated, prompting her to nod against his chest.

Though both of them knew, it was not.

Healers and nurses from St. Mungo’s had arrived shortly after the main battle had stopped, starting the monstrous task of going through the countless bodies littering Hogwarts’ grounds, separating the dead from the dying and those that could still be helped.

All the while, all those still standing were rounding up the remaining Death Eaters, taking out all those who were resisting with grim faces and a little less mercy than they might have had a day prior.

Remus and Dora had been right there in the Great Hall when Voldemort had fallen, and, after making sure that Harry really was all right, had volunteered to browse the grounds, needing to get out of the rubble of what had once been their holdfast of Light.

Now, seemingly a lifetime later, things had calmed down. People were starting to leave for home and peace.

The two of them were standing close to the Lake, not really willing to move. Home called for them, too, and the thought of their sweet son waiting was enough to help lift the shadow this day had left behind. The only problem was, they could not just disappear. And they really did not want to return to the centre of chaos.

Eventually, Remus sighed and nudged her softly. “Let’s go.”

McGonagall and Kingsley were conversing in the Great Hall with serious faces, a few Aurors were hurrying around, and at the far end a number of strugglers, survivors, helpers were sitting tiredly on what had been the Slytherin table.

Ironic, really, that the victors of this war would sit there, where their enemy had sat once.

Then, of course, there were the bodies. Row on row the lay, neatly aligned. Someone had covered them with blankets, after they had been identified and listed.

Remus did his best not to look at them, not to think about them, really. How close they had come to be one of them, still and dead and gone.

“Remus, Tonks,” Minerva called when she noticed them. She looked older than he had ever seen her. There was blood on her clothes, and her left sleeve was ripped, but she held herself straight as always, not willing to rest before she had sorted out this mess to the best of her abilities.

“Professor, Kingsley,” he nodded.

“You’re leaving, then? Andromeda must be anxious.”

“We sent word when the fighting was done,” Dora answered quietly. Thinking about her mother made ice spread through her again. How stupid she had been. How irresponsible.

Remus put his arm around her, silently transferring his understanding.

“Have you seen Harry?” he asked, only to receive a non-committal shrug.

“He’s still around somewhere. Running himself ragged.”

“Like you,” Remus could not help but say. Minerva did not protest. “If you see him, tell him he knows where to find us.”

The house was quiet, no lights were on, no sign of anyone being awake. But before they had made it even halfway to the entrance, the door flew open and Andromeda bolted out, looking more ruffled and tired than Remus had ever seen her.

“Mum,” Dora called before she was pulled into a bone-crushing hug.

“Oh, my sweet child,” the usually so dignified woman all but sobbed.

“I’m here, Mum,” any attempt at sounding soothing was ruined by the thickness in Dora’s voice, emotion catching up with her.

Remus smiled at them, stepping back to give them more space, only to be fixed by an intense stare out of grey eyes.

“Come here,” Andromeda demanded, one arm extended to him.

And, needing this just as much as them, Remus let himself be pulled into the arms of his family, relishing the warmth of living, breathing human beings, after hours of dealing with death.

“I was so worried.”

“Shh, Mum, we’re here now. We’re not going anywhere.”

They stood there for a small eternity, not caring about anything but them being able to do this at all.

Eventually, though, Dora looked up. “Where’s Teddy?”

Then there was no holding them back, rushing inside to get to their son, who greeted them with bright eyes and a smile, as if to say, What were you so worried about? I knew you wouldn’t leave me alone.

“So it is really over?” Andromeda asked, watching them closely, hopeful where there had been mostly resignation before.

“Yes,” Remus answered, finally allowing himself to relax, to admit this truth to himself.

It was over. And now, the future was full of possibilities again, full of things to change, full of memories to make. To grow old and happy.

“Yes,” he repeated. And they understood.

“Edward Remus Lupin,” a loud voice echoed through the house, making all occupants duck their heads in expectation of the explosion that would surely follow. “Get down here this instant.”

Hurried footsteps could be heard, though clearly getting away from the stairs.

“That was not a smart move,” Remus commented, looking at his wife over the rim of his book.

She grinned at him. “As he is sure to find out.”

Nodding gravely, he chuckled to himself.

“You think this is amusing?” Andromeda spoke up from the doorway, her eyes narrowed. Ever since her hair had turned grey, she seemed to have become even more intimidating.

Thankfully, though, she did not wait for an answer. Instead she turned around and continued shouting. “I’m counting to three, young man. Don’t make me come up.”

“You know, I blame that on you,” Dora looked at him with a serious face, though there was mischief shining in her eyes.

“Me?,” innocence laced his voice. It did not fool anyone.

“Yes you. What were you thinking, telling him all about your glorious Marauder days.”

Remus puffed out his chest. “I’ll have you know, that my Marauder days are far from over. I am still breathing.”

“Merlin help us all,” she snorted, dodging the couch pillow flying right at her head.

“What is that supposed to mean?” He carefully laid aside his book, readying himself for her retaliation that would surely come. In fact, he seemed quite eager for it.

She dearly hoped, they would never change.

“What are you doing?” a young voice piped up from the doorway, amber eyes watching them curiously.

“Honey,” Dora sputtered, letting the pillow in her raised hand fall abruptly, causing her husband to laugh at her when she managed to hit herself.

“Your mother was just reminiscing about how glad she is about my stabilizing influence on your character,” then he mock-shuddered. “Imagine how you would have turned out with just her as role-model.”

“I certainly did not.”

Mira Lupin merely raised an eyebrow at her parents – something she had definitely picked up from her grandmother, and was frighteningly good at.

“Is anyone in this house not crazy?” she drawled.

“Of course not,” Remus exclaimed quite happily. “That would be a shame, wouldn’t it?”

“Anyway,” Dora said, trying in vain to be subtle about rearranging the pillows. “Why are you down here? I thought you were going through your Hogwarts’ books?” She threw a sideward glance at Remus, making it obvious she blamed him for that, too. Really, she had never loved books quite that much.

“Trying to stay out of Gran’s way,” the girl shrugged, before getting comfortable on the couch. “Surely you heard her.”

Her parents snickered at that.

“What did your brother do this time?”

“Remember those fireworks he got from Uncle George?” Her mother nodded warily, imagining to where this would lead. “Well, add to that the cupboard and Gran doing the laundry. And –“

She fell silent, as if suddenly remembering that Teddy and her had promised to never rat each other out. Then again, he had not really been subtle about this. And Gran had definitely noticed.

“And?,” Remus prompted, mirth oozing from his voice.

“And he might have added one of those Finite-triggered dungbombs.”

Her father erupted into laughter while her mother groaned. “Mum will kill him.”

“She already is, from the sound of it.”

“Nah, she’s still screaming. The killing comes later.”

“Well, I won’t argue with you. Getting your mum riled up is your area of expertise.”

Pillows flew. Laughter ensued. Life was good.

Later that night during dinner, Andromeda was still miffed about having to do her laundry again, while Ted did his best to look suitably ruffled about the dressing down he had received.

“And that is why you will not go to your godfather’s house tomorrow, but help me sort out this mess,” though her voice was stern and her face a forbidding mask, there was clearly laughter in her eyes, for everyone to see.

Well, everyone who had years of experience and was not at the receiving end of her latest lecture.

“But Gran, we were going to play Quidditch,” the boy exclaimed. His grandmother, however, was unwavering.

“You should have thought about that before you decided to pull your little stunt.”

Remus could have sworn he heard his daughter add, “Or before you managed to get caught.” Even though she was more studious than her brother, she, too, had inherited the Maurader spirit. But her pranks were usually much more subtle, and much harder to track back to her.

Remus’ snickering unfortunately drew all attention to him. “Dad,” Teddy whined, while Andromeda’s expression dared him to say anything.

“Sorry, son,” he offered, not sounding very apologizing, considering that he had yet to turn serious again. “That really wasn’t a clever thing to do.”

“But –“

“Also, I’m sure you’re glad to be able to spend some more time with your grandmother before you go back to Hogwarts next week.”

His son’s very astute imitation of a fish snapping for air, set him off laughing again. Then he heard him mutter quietly, “It was still worth it.”

Dora’s grin seemed to say, “Well played.”

“But I can still go, right?” Mira was caught between smiling mockingly at her brother and looking concerned. “Aunt Hermione promised to go over the first year curriculum with me.”

“Of course you can,” Dora reassured her. “Though you shouldn’t worry so much about school. You’ve got your intelligence from your Dad.”

That made both of them sit straighter, beaming with pride.

“And me?” Teddy piped up eagerly, forgetting for a second to be miffed about his ruined plans.

“Well,” his mother drew out, seemingly hesitant. “Your OWLs won’t be until next year. I’m sure we’ll figure something out until then.”

“Oi,” the protest came as anticipated. “I’m not –“

“Your mother’s having you on, dear. Most of the time, you are quite smart yourself.” Teddy smiled widely at his grandmother, before remembering that he was supposed to be mad at her. His scowling raised another round of laughter.

Time with their family – all extended family included, of course – was never boring. And now, one week before the next Hogwarts’ term started, they relished in how alive the house was.

It would be the first year that they would send both their children off, and Remus was sure their home would seem awfully quiet – eve though Dora and him were quite capable of rousing chaos themselves.

Regarding his family with the by now well known feeling of warmth and love spreading in his chest – he still wondered at times how he had managed to get this lucky – he leaned over towards his wife and whispered conspiratorial, “I think we should get another one.”

She laughed and that, truly, was the most beautiful sound on earth.
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