I hate waiting.
I’m sitting on those damn familiar starchy sheets at St. Mungo’s, waiting for the results of my examination.
Did I lose my baby?
I’m too scared to cry. I can’t believe I’m here again. I was here only weeks ago after losing my last baby. I don’t know what to think, or do, or say. I’ve picked all the polish off my nails, I’ve cracked all my knuckles, and I’ve fidgeted, but still the thought hasn’t been driven from my mind…
Have I lost my baby?
It would be all my fault this time; entirely my fault. I never thought, when this evening started, that I’d be in this situation now. I thought I’d help negotiate a hostage situation, keep people safe, and- it would just- end. I never really expected to come face to face with my Aunt, or that Remus would duel Pettigrew. I put my life in horrible danger- I can’t take it if I lose this baby.
Remus is pacing. He’s been pacing for some time now, and it’s making me nervous. He’s not said anything about the battle since we left. I don’t know if he needs space or not, but I can’t stand the silence anymore.
“When we leave here, I want to go to see Harry first, and then go to Mum and Dad’s,” I say, startled at the sound of my own voice, so quiet, and deadened in the large, empty room.
Remus abruptly stops pacing. “Regardless of the outcome,” he prefaces in an ambiguously, placating manner, “Don’t you think you should go home and lay down?”
I shake my head and wrap my arms around my body. “No, I don’t want Harry to find out about- what happened tonight from an Owl, or from the Wireless, or the Prophet. It’s only fair. And I want to see Ella, I just want to bring her home, with us, where she belongs. And-” I pause, almost disbelieving what I’m about to say. “I want to tell my mother that I was partially responsible for the death of her sister.”
Remus expression is steeled. “You haven’t said much, do you want to talk about it?”
“I-” I start, but there’s a knock on the door, immediately interrupting us.
“Mrs. Lupin?” a petite witch asks, pushing the door open and looking down at the clipboard in her hand.
“I have the results of your tests.”
I find that my mouth is parched suddenly, and I doubt that I could utter a word if I tried, so I extend my hand toward Remus, who rushes to my side, and I nod at the medi-witch.
My heart pounds as she flips the pages of my chart. Remus squeezes my hand and mouths the words ‘I love you,’ and I bring my other hand to rest over my stomach.
“The Healer says everything looks fine, the foetus is healthy, and it looks like you should be expecting a baby just after the New Year. You should spend the remainder of the weekend on bed rest, but you may return to work on Monday. We’ll prepare your discharge papers.”
Fat tears roll down my cheeks as Remus squeezes my hand again, and I let my shoulders slump with a relieved sigh.
“Thank you,” Remus replies, watching as the nurse exits the room and closes the door behind her. He sighs and runs his hands through his hair. “Am I greyer than I was a few moments ago? Because I surely feel it. The charm is wearing off your hair too.”
I try to exhale, but it comes out as something of a sob, and a laugh. Remus cups my face in his hands and presses a kiss to my lips. “I love you; we’ll just have to be more careful now.”
“Yes, I promise,” I respond, slouching down into the bed while the Medi-witch readies my discharge papers. Remus sits next to me, gently smoothing his hand over my abdomen. “Our brave baby. I don’t know how I’m going to keep it a secret much longer. Do you want to know what we’re having? We should think about names, don’t you think?”
Remus smirks. “No, I think I rather like surprises. It took you months to name Ella, I’d say we ought to get started as soon as possible, don’t you?”
We Apparate just beyond the wards and our shoes crunch on the dry grass as we approach the house. The light from the Burrow’s kitchen stretches out across the lawn, casting a friendly glow to the rambling old house. I feel a little better knowing we won’t wake the entire household with our announcement. I swallow, reaching up to knock on the door. Momentarily, Molly answers, asking me a security question before I hear the locks clicking.
The door swings open, and we’re met by Molly, Harry, and Ginny, their tea cups abandoned at the wooden table in the kitchen. It’s evident, by their expressions, that they know something has transpired.
“Wotcher,” I offer hesitantly, and I hear Remus mumble ‘Good evening,’ in an apologetic voice, as we are ushered inside.
“Oh my dears, come in, come in,” Molly says inviting Remus and I inside.
We enter the house, closing the door behind us while Molly bustles over to the stove to fetch tea, and Harry and Ginny resume their seats at the table.
Harry speaks up instantly. “Remus- Tonks, what brings you by?”
I clear my throat. “I guess I’m sort of here in an official capacity,” I begin, wishing I didn’t sound so official when their faces went ghostly white, fearing someone they loved was injured. “No, nothing is wrong with anyone in the family, but there was an… incident tonight. I think we’d all best sit down.”
Molly clunked the teapot on the table, sloshing some over the sides of the pot before shakily pouring two more cups.
“I was working late tonight when I was informed of a hostage situation- Dean Thomas was forced by wandpoint into the Ministry tonight to retrieve Peter Pettigrew’s silver hand.”
Remus rubs his hands over his face and looks away uncomfortably.
“And, um, long story short, we ended up at the Riddle house. Peter was there, and so was my Aunt Bellatrix- she was after Jessie, evidently. Remus and I split up. He and Justin dueled with Peter, quite viciously, from what I understand.” I glance quickly over at Remus, and then look directly at Harry before I continue. “And Justin, he, um, killed him- Pettigrew that is. He’s gone.”
Harry visibly swallows. "Good. I should have let you and Sirius kill that dirty rat when you had him years ago."
Ginny reaches across the table, squeezing Harry's hand, "Are you okay Remus?"
Remus folds his hands and looks down at the table. “I was with him- at the end. We spoke briefly, and he asked me to ensure his body went to his mother. I couldn’t help it, I saw the boy I knew so many years ago, not the man he became. I don’t regret that it’s all over though.”
Harry closes his eyes briefly. "I just wish we knew why. What was so tempting that he could turn on those he supposedly loved?"
Remus shakes his head. “Power and greed consume weak people, Harry, and I’m sorry to say I didn’t do as much as I should have all those years ago to curb that hunger.”
Harry shakes his head, "How would you have known? I've seen memories of the four of you. I would have never suspected him."
“No, but maybe the three of us helped push him over the edge. We ignored him and pushed him away-”
Ginny scowls. "Bollocks, that's no excuse." She looks at Harry for a moment, "If that was an excuse I would have ended up snogging Malfoy or something because Harry, Ron, and Hermione never noticed I was around for so long."
“There’s more,” I begin. “We ended up in the basement of the house where we found Jessie and Mr. Ollivander as well, but I don’t know the status of him at this point. Neville Longbottom, the Patil girl, and Susan were there too. Bellatrix arrived to kill Jessie, but we dueled. Naturally, she said some horrible things- erm, about Sirius, and the Longbottoms. Neville and I traded a few hexes with her, and she was killed when a hex was deflected. She was crushed under a collapsed wall, and impaled by a torch that fell. I’m sorry if that’s too much information, or too blunt- I’m not sure either death has really registered yet.”
Harry grips the table with both hands and I can see his knuckles turning white. Ginny reaches up, running her fingers though his hair. "Couldn't have happened to a more deserving pair.”
I nod. “I agree, but I don’t fancy telling my mother that I was a party in her sister’s death.”
“Oh dear, your mother is a sensible woman- she knows the truth. I didn’t spend much time alone with Sirius in conversation, but he always spoke so highly of Andromeda,” Molly offered, patting my hand.
“Thankfully, for the most part, there were minimal injuries,” I say, eagerly changing the subject, and by the look on my former partner’s face- he appears glad too*. “The prisoners were in rough shape, and Justin suffered severe injuries- he- lost a limb. Everyone else just suffered minor wounds.”
Ginny gasps, clapping a hand to her mouth. Molly shakes her head, "Merlin, poor Justin, hasn't he suffered enough?"
“Moody took care of him. Pettigrew’s silver hand attached itself to Justin’s arm, after it was severed, and unfortunately, it attempted to poison him and Susan had to- er, remove the silver hand.”
Molly falls into her seat at the table. "Um... will they be able to help him?"
I shake my head. “I don’t know. I didn’t hear any updates after my examination.”
A smirk stretches across Ginny’s face and her eyes widen. “Tonks, is your hair charmed? Are you-”
Oi. I suppose the blush gives it away. I didn’t want to tell anyone for a while yet, but I don’t mind if Harry and the Weasleys know. “Yeah,” I say, looking over at Remus, who is smiling. “We’re expecting a baby in January.”
A girlish squeal fills the room and Harry simply smiles as Molly and Ginny begin firing questions at us.
"Is it a boy or a girl?"
"Do you have any names picked out?"
"Does Ella know?"
"How do you think she'll react?"
I laugh with nervous excitement. Aside from Remus, I haven’t had anyone to get excited with. “We don’t know if it’s a boy or girl yet.” I look over at my husband and raise an eyebrow. “We haven’t really discussed names yet either. It’s getting difficult, but I’m trying to keep things quiet. With all the goings on at the Ministry- I’m afraid what might happen if I’m ‘inconvenienced’ at this time.” I roll my eyes. “Not even my Mum knows, and my Dad is still being a prat. We haven’t told Ella yet. I don’t know how she’ll take it- that’s my only worry.”
Harry stands up walks over and shakes Remus' hand firmly. He then turns to me and wraps me in a brief hug. "I'm so happy for the both of you. You'll make wonderful parents for the second time over."
Ginny follows suit giving both of us a hug and whispering in my ear, "We need to do some baby clothes shopping once you know if it is a boy or a girl."
Molly gives Remus a rib-cracking hug followed by a softer one for me. "If you two need anything dears, I'm just a floo call away."
Remus puts a hand on my shoulder. “Thank you.”
Tears well up in my eyes from the emotional swell and I fan my face. Remus and I haven’t really discussed this yet, but I look over at him, and raise my eyebrows in expectation, and he gives a slight nod. “Thank you, really. Harry, Ginny, I know it’s early, but we wanted to officially ask you to be godparents for our baby. I know you’ve got so many exciting things going on in your lives, but- please say yes.”
Harry beams at us, looks down at Ginny who nods, "Of course we would."
“Thank you. It means a lot to us. I suppose we’d better let you get some sleep. I- we- just didn’t want you to hear the news about Pettigrew and Bellatrix from an Owl, or over the Wireless. I’m off to tell Mum now, and I want to take Ella home for the night anyhow-”
“And you should be resting,” Remus interrupts.
I try to restrain a grin as Harry smiles at Remus' molly-coddling. I glance at Ginny and wonder if he realises what he's in for when he and Ginny finally start a family.
“Right, so goodnight and I’m sorry we dropped in at such a late hour,” I say, heading for the door, stopping at the threshold.
“Oh pish, it’s nothing dears. Again, congratulations on your happy news, and thank you for letting us know about the attack at the Riddle house. Be safe.”
“Thanks. Goodnight, Harry, Ginny, Molly,” Remus replies, taking my hand as he leads me from the old house.
A chorus of ‘congratulations’ and ‘good night’ sees us off into the night, but I find myself a little nervous about telling my own mother that her sister has been killed…
We Apparate outside Mum and Dad’s house shortly after midnight, and I instantly know they were worried about us- every single light in the house is on.
We’re about to step on the back porch, when Mother flings the door open with an exasperated sigh. “The two of you are going to be the death of me! Where have you been?”
“Don’t Mum me, Nymphadora. I heard about the attacks on the Wireless- are you both all right? What are you doing outside? Get in here!” She tugs on my sleeve, yanking me into the house.
“Mum, we’re fine, just superficial injuries,” I say, entering my childhood home.
“Superficial? What does that mean? Was either of you taken to St. Mungo’s?” Mother demanded, closing the door behind Remus and locking it.
“Just as a precautionary measure,” Remus answers in a calm, even tone.
My mother raises her eyebrow, pursing her lips. “Was either of you hexed?”
“Believe it or not, I think I just got hurt from some falling debris, but Remus took a couple of cutting hexes,” I answer, reaching blindly behind me, taking his hand.
“Are you all right, Remus?” Mum questions, as Dad came into the room, wrapping his dressing gown around himself.
“Yes, thank you, Andromeda,” Remus says, looking first at Mum, and then nodding politely in Dad’s direction.
“Mum,” I interrupt, exhaling. “I think you’d better sit down- I- have to tell you something.”
Mum blanches, and Dad instantly pulls one of the chairs away from the table, indicating to my mother. “What’s going on? Nymphadora, what’s wrong? Is it you? Remus?”
Remus moves to the table and pulls out a chair, giving me a firm look. I know I ought to be home, and in bed, but this is my responsibility. “Do you want a moment?” he asks quietly, leaning down over the chair.
“No!” I say, reaching over my shoulder to take his hand. “Stay- I-”
My mother interrupts. “Nymphadora, you’re scaring me.”
“Nymphadora, maybe you’d best just tell your mother your news,” Dad finally interjects, and I nod.
“Mum- Aunt Bellatrix, she’s- well, she was killed in a duel tonight. I’m sorry.”
I think my Mother has always been proud that she’s been a well-composed woman. There haven’t been many instances when she didn’t know what to say, but clearly this was one of them. After several long moments, where she looked down at the floor, she spoke. “Bella hasn’t been my sister for some time now.”
“Um, Mum, there’s something else,” I say, unable to look in her eyes. “I was, partially responsible for Bellatrix’s death. I was one of the people duelling her when it happened.”
Mum simply nods and continues to look down. She wipes one tear off her cheek and rises from the chair. “Did you do your job, Nymphadora? Did you protect yourself, and innocent people?”
I frown. “Well- yes, but-”
“No buts. It was you, or her. You’re a responsible Auror, Nymphadora. You don’t owe me or anyone else an apology.”
The room was silent, and for a fleeting moment I thought about telling Mum about the baby, to cheer her up, or give her something to look forward to, but I couldn’t risk it. She came closer and put her hand under my chin, tilting my face toward hers. “It’s all right, Nymphadora. It was necessary.”
She pats my shoulder and then Remus’ and goes to stand at the sink, looking out the window into the darkness.
I look between Dad, and Mum, who’s still looking outside, and I stand up from the chair. “Has Ella been asleep long?”
Dad nods. “She was tired; she went right down after her bath.”
I pick at my fingernail. “OK, well, I’ll go get her then.”
Dad turns to gather Ellie’s things, as Remus gently grabs my arm, shaking his head. “No,” he mouths, his eyes dropping to my stomach. “Let me.”
“She can stay if you want to go home and sleep in,” Mum says, finally breaking the silence.
I swallow uncomfortably, feeling sorry for my mother- she’s lost another member of her family, and, while they’re awful- they are family. “Thanks, Mum, I just want to take my little girl home.”
An hour later I’m sitting on the floor at Ella’s bedside, smoothing the fringe off her forehead, thinking how one misplaced hex could have drastically changed the outcome of the duel tonight.
I hear the floor creak behind me, and I turn to see Remus standing in the hallway in a pair of freshly laundered pyjamas, staring down at me. “I don’t think Ella’s floor qualifies as bed rest,” he whispers.
He walks into the room, standing next to Ella’s bed, fussing with her covers. He sweeps a lock of hair away from her eyes and kisses her goodnight, before helping me up from the floor. I kiss Ellie goodnight, whispering ‘I love you’ in her ear before grabbing Remus’ hand, leading him from the room.
We settle in bed, Remus curling up next to me, letting his hand splay across my tummy, and he sighs loudly. “Moon tomorrow. Should I see if someone can come stay with you? You shouldn’t be out of bed.”
I shake my head, closing my eyes tight, willing it would all just go away. I don’t want to think about moons, or Pettigrew, or Bellatrix- at least they can’t hurt us anymore. “No, I’ll be fine. Maybe I’ll think of baby names while you’re indisposed. Then I can torture you in bed on Monday by rattling off dozens and dozens of them. Sound good?”
He is silent for a long time, and I’m beginning to suspect he is falling asleep. “Dora?” he says quietly, his thumb abruptly stopping the path it was tracing back and forth across my stomach.
“I-” he begins, and pauses, pulling me a little closer before another stretch of silence cocoons around us.
Lacing my fingers through his atop my stomach, I say, “I’m not ready to talk about it either. When you’re ready- I’m here.”
He nuzzles the back of my neck, pressing his lips against my skin. “I love you. I can’t think of a better way to spend my Monday than to begin discussing names for our baby with you.”
I giggle and snuggle closer. “I love you too, and I promise to have a ridiculously long list of baby names to share with you on Monday.”
I am so thankful for Remus at times like this. He’s knows what it’s like, because he’s been through it with me. He sighs, resuming his caress on my stomach, and I drift off to sleep, safe in my husband’s arms.