Characters: Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks
Timing: during tDH
Notes: Written for prompt “when Remus tells Tonks he's thinking about going off with the trio.”
Nymphadora sat on the edge of the bed, her feet planted on the faded rug, her hands on her pale knees. It was dawn, grey. She could see in her mind, stretching out before her, the obstacle strewn distance between her bed and the lavatory; miles of dimly lit hardwood hallway. She glanced over her shoulder. Remus was sleeping on his stomach, face half buried in the pillow, as was his habit.
"Remus," she said quietly. She knew he was asleep, but this was important. She turned back to the window. The curtains were drawn.
It took a moment, but finally she heard the response from behind her, on the bed; a muffled " `es?"
“What if I fall some time, right, as I do, and it hurts our baby?”
A sigh and a shifting of blankets. His voice was clearer now. “You won’t. It wouldn’t.”
Nymphadora turned to face him, defiant. “I will! And it might. There was this Muggle lady, a friend of Da.”
“The keyword here,” said Remus patiently, propping himself up on one elbow, “is 'Muggle'.” He reached across the mattress with his free hand and pulled her closer, to lay one warm palm over her imperceptibly swollen abdomen. “ Miscarriages are significantly less common among witches. Didn’t your mother say anything?” Then, grimly, after she shook her head, “Your clumsiness is the least of its worries.”
Nymphadora put her hand on top of Remus’. His knuckles were lined with fine, blond hair. Veins stood out beneath her fingers. “My mother doesn’t care about our baby,” Nymphadora said quietly.
Remus withdrew his hand, leaving her own cool palm stranded there against her own belly, pinkie finger curled under. “She does care about the baby, Dora,” said Remus, lying his head back on his pillow. “It’s not the baby that’s the problem.”
“I don’t care what people think of you, or us, Remus! I don’t. I love you,” she exclaimed passionately.
“I’m sure you love your parents, too. And your baby.”
Remus turned back onto his stomach. “Our baby,” he confirmed.
Later they ate breakfast together in the little kitchen. An owl had come with the Prophet. Nymphadora had spread the pages all across the table, and was highlighting – sometimes whole passages, sometimes single words – with her wand, her porridge almost untouched. From the other side of the table Remus sipped at his black tea, solemn and preoccupied.
“I’m thinking of going either blonde like the bride or ginger like the groom,” said Nymphadora idly. “Any preferences?”
Remus’ face surfaced from its brooding expression. “Pardon?”
“Never mind,” she said, going back to the Prophet.
“Could I see the crossword?” Remus asked.
Nymphadora didn’t look up. Her head was angled, her left hand tangled in her short black hair. A smile played at the corner of her mouth. “You don’t do the crossword.”
Remus put down his cup. “What makes you say that?”
She looked up. “I know you, Remus. Just because I didn’t meet you in school doesn’t mean I don’t know you!”
There was a silence at first.
Remus caught and held her gaze. “Is that something you worry about?” he responded at last.
Nymphadora, disarmed, nodded resignedly, inhaling into a shrug. “How could it not be? In the whole of myself there is only one absolute certainty. Scary.” Pause. “Here.” She extracted the crossword, pushed it across the table.
He took it, regarded its gaping squares. “That you love me,” he said.
She nodded, and confirmed. “That I love you.”
Remus shook his head. “It isn’t healthy, Dora.”
Nymphadora snorted, looking back to the article she had been halfway through. “Yes, because you are the lord of healthy. Please, Health Lord, spare my paradigms!”
They stumbled into silence, Remus muttering to his crossword and Nymphadora picking a little at her porridge finally, head bent over the paper.
“This paper is rubbish,” she said, after a stretch.
“What did you expect?” asked Remus.
Nymphadora shrugged. “Hidden messages, I suppose,” she said. She began to reassemble the paper, glancing at the pages as she did so, but not with commitment.
“Any mention of Harry?” Remus inquired.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “But nothing significant.” She paused in her assembly, thoughtful. “I’m awfully curious about that mission.”
Remus nodded. “Myself also.”
He was regarding her very attentively and she blushed with pleasure under the scrutiny. It felt like a long time since she had held his concentration so absolutely. She leaned forward, hands on the table, jaw tilted up to him. “I think,” she said, “it’s too much. Much too much a burden. For one so young.”
He nodded again – three slow, deep nods. He reached out and took her small hand between his two larger ones. “The young should never be asked to shoulder unfair burdens,” he began.
The thrill at his attention faded to be replaced by an unbearable burning; she looked into his clear blue eyes and saw the familiar sadness.
“That is why,” he continued, “I am going to offer my company to the three of them – to Harry. It would lighten his burden, as well as yours. As well as our child’s. Myself and my affliction are only a detriment to you both.”
Nymphadora’s heart began to hammer in her chest. “Stop with this nonsense about our burdens! The issue is not your affliction – it’s you. That you don’t trust me!” The words poured out, her voice rising in volume and pitch. “You don’t believe that anyone could make you happy now, let alone someone like me – someone so young!” This was the great weight inside her, filling her up, overwhelming her. She dropped to a whisper. “You can’t go. You can’t leave us.”
“I have to. I’m the only one left from whom Harry will accept help,” Remus said firmly.
She gripped Remus’ arms with such force that he grunted and tried to pull away. “Maybe you don’t have to.” She looked imploringly into his face. “At least wait. Wait to see what happens next.”
He seemed to consider this, though his expression gave nothing away. “I can wait a few days, at most,” he said finally. “Maybe he will ask the Order for assistance.”
Nymphadora relaxed her grip, fell back into her seat. “I’d better go get ready for the wedding,” she said, getting up slowly, leaving the newspaper and uneaten porridge to Remus.
In front of the mirror, Nymphadora tried first blonde hair, then ginger. She added freckles, took them away again.
Remus had always been reluctant, she reflected, always mistrustful – but they had already come so far; they had wed, and she now carried his child. If he was going to be afraid she would have to be brave enough for the both of them, she resolved.
She faced now a wedding more grand and festive than she had been allowed to have. She mustered a smile and examined it critically in the mirror.