Chapter 69: Those We Love

Tonks's eyes were closed but she could sense brightness beyond her lids. The warm sunlight gently kissed her cheeks. She was naked beneath the sheets. The bed was so comfortable; she did not want to get up.

The mattress squeaked slightly as the bed in their flat always did when someone climbed into it.

Tonks still did not open her eyes as she felt his familiar form press against her back, holding her to his chest.

She felt so safe and relaxed.

"Wotcher, Remus," Tonks hummed, finding his hand, and taking it in hers.

"Hello, Darling," Remus whispered, his breath tickling the back of her neck.

Tonks giggled lightly at the feel of it. She felt extremely lighthearted.

This was her perfect place, in their flat, in the morning sun, with Remus's arms wrapped around her.

"Do you want to open your eyes?" Remus asked, a note of playfulness in his tone.

"But I'm so comfortable," Tonks protested. "Can't we stay in bed all day?"

"I think you'll really want to open your eyes," Remus told her.

Her eyes flit open and at first, she was so dazzled by the warm light, she could not quite see.

Tonks turned in Remus's arms so that she was facing him. She wanted so badly to kiss him. She always wanted to kiss him, but especially now.

As she leaned in, her eyes adjusted to the bright light and she paused.

"Remus," she said aghast.

Remus smiled at her, a bright beautiful smile. "What is it?" he asked, even though it was clear he knew what she was going to say.

"Remus, your scars," Tonks said.

"What about my scars?" Remus asked, with amusement.

"They're gone," Tonks breathed. "And your hair is so brown."

The slash like scars that swept across Remus's face had vanished and his prematurely grey hair had darkened to a sandy brown that Tonks had only ever seen in pictures. And somehow the darkness of his hair made his eyes seem bluer.

Tonks sat up and the sheet fell from her, exposing her bare chest.

Remus, who was fully dressed, sat up too.

Tonks took up Remus's arms in turn and pulled up his sleeves. Where there should have been bite marks so severe, they looked like burns, there was smooth skin with a soft thicket of dark hair. Tonks then peered under Remus's shirt. His torso was void of any angry bites or scratches.

Tonks let Remus's shirt fall back over his abdomen.

Remus watched her carefully, not saying a word.

He watched as her lips parted as if to ask a question. Then her jaw tightened, and her eyes became round.

Remus knew that Tonks understood.

"Teddy," she whimpered. Tears glistened in her eyes. "Our boy."

Remus wrapped her in his arms and held her tightly to his heart. "I know, I know, Dora." His voice broke.

It suddenly felt dark in this bright, warm space and it did not seem so comfortable anymore.

"We barely got any time with him," Tonks said. Her words were barely a whisper. "I didn't get to hold him nearly enough."

"I know," Remus choked.

"And we're both here and he's there," Tonks said weakly.

Remus pulled away only slightly so that he could look at her. His eyes were watery as he ran his fingers through her pink hair. "Dora, I know you're sad," Remus said. "I am too. But our parents will look after him. It will be difficult for all of them, but they will have each other. Teddy will help them heal."

"We're not going to be there for anything," Tonks groaned. "You should be with Teddy. I should've insisted that I go, and you stay. Teddy'll need you."

"He will need both of us," Remus said. He took in a deep breath. "And he will have us. Just in a different way."

Silent tears rolled down Tonks's cheeks.

Remus carefully brushed them away with his thumb. "Teddy will be alright," he said. "Can't you feel it?"

Tonks closed her eyes. She did not see images of their son flash before her, but she felt fleeting emotions wave over her. She felt the excitement of a baby taking his first steps and saying his first words, that she knew would not include 'mama' or 'dada.' She felt the sorrow and pride as an eleven-year-old boarded the train to Hogwarts. Tonks experienced the pure joy radiating from her son as he waited at the alter to get married.

Somehow, Tonks knew that all these feelings were true and would come to be.

Tonks opened her eyes and looked at Remus with wonderment. "Teddy's going to be okay, better than okay."

"Yes, Darling," Remus agreed. Remus then gazed towards the closed bedroom door. "If you feel up to it, there are some people who are waiting to see you."

Tonks's brows knit together. She was not sure if she was ready to see anyone else. The only other person she really wanted to see was Teddy, but she did not want him there. Regardless of her feelings, Tonks straightened herself. She thought that she should get dressed, and just as the thought passed through her mind, clothes appeared at the foot of the bed.

"This is weird," Tonks sighed.

"Just wait," Remus assured her.

"I don't think I can take another surprise," Tonks said as she dressed.

"You'll like this surprise," he told her.

"You'll be with me?" Tonks asked nervously.

Remus took her hand. "I will always be with you."

They stepped out of the bedroom together. This place looked like their flat, except cleaner and brighter.

Tonks did not have more than a moment to take in her surrounds before she was engulfed in a strangling embrace. Her hand was pulled away from Remus and her feet were lifted off the floor.

Using all her weight, Tonks kicked the attacker in the shins, got free, and swiped her leg, knocking the person down.

"Merlin's Beard! What the bloody hell was that for!"

Tonks recognized the voice before she registered the face of the man on his back.

"S-Sirius?" Tonks stammered.

"Yes, it's me," Sirius said, sitting up. "Who else were you expecting?"

"Literally, anyone else," Tonks said, holding out her hand to help him to his feet.

She heard chuckling around her and noticed other faces in the room of people she had never met before.

"May I hug you now please?" Sirius said with exasperation.

Tonks nodded vaguely.

Sirius wrapped Tonks it his arms again and Tonks rested her head against his shoulder, her body untensing.

"I've missed you," Sirius told her. "Even though you're mental."

Remus chuckled beside them. "You should have known better, Padfoot, then to sneak up on my wife."

"My mistake," Sirius said. He tried to let her go but Tonks was still holding on to him. Sirius let out one of his bark like laughs. He pressed his lips against Tonks's forehead. "It'll be okay," he said so only she could hear.

Tonks loosened her grip on Sirius, and he passed her gently back to Remus, who put his arm around her.

Tonks eyed the others in the room. Two men and a woman stared back at her. She recognized two from photographs, but one of the men she was certain that she had never seen before.

The first man moved forward.

"Dora," Remus said. "This is James." Remus could not help but grin. He could have never gaged exactly how much he longed to say those words. He was introducing Prongs to his wife!

Tonks hardly needed the introduction. Even if she had never seen a photograph of James Potter, she would have known right away that this man was Harry's father.

James shook Tonks's hand enthusiastically. "You can call me Prongs if you'd like," he said. "I know we haven't officially met until now, but don't think that we haven't been checking up on old Moony now and again." James looked at Remus. "She is going to fit right in with the Marauders."

Remus let out a sardonic sigh. "I'm very aware of that," he said, kissing the top of Tonks's head. Then Remus gently led Tonks towards the waiting woman with dark hair and beautiful grey-blue eyes.

The woman gazed at Remus like she would never tire of looking at him.

"Dora," Remus said, his voice shaking slightly. "This is my mother."

At his words, Hope Lupin held out her arms for Tonks. "May I?" she asked in a musical voice.

Tonks nodded and Remus's mother wrapped her in her arms.

"Thank you," Hope said to Tonks. "Thank you so much for looking after my son. I have never seen Remus as happy as when he's with you."

"Are you alright?" Remus asked Tonks as his mother let her go. Tonks was not speaking, which was very unlike her.

"I'm fine," she said in a daze. This was all so bizarre and wonderful and sad at the same time. "Who are you?" Tonks asked, turning to the other man in the room.

The man looked like he might be in his thirties. Though Tonks was finding that that meant nothing there, for both Remus and Sirius looked much younger than they did in life. This man was bulky and muscular, and he had thick blond hair. His dark eyes crinkled as he smiled slyly at her.

"Don't you recognize me, Tonks?" the man said in a gruff familiar voice.

Tonks's breath got caught in her throat. "Mad-Eye?"

Tonks had never known her friend and mentor when he was whole and unscared.

"Yes," he confirmed.

Tonks launched herself forward.

Mad-Eye let out a huff of air as she hit his chest, wrapping her arms around him.

"You look so weird," she cried into his shoulder.

Mad-Eye laughed. "I'm sure you'll get used to it," he said sardonically. He hugged Tonks back. "You fought so well. I couldn't be prouder."

"But I lost," Tonks said, pulling back.

"No, you didn't," Mad-Eye told her. "You'll see soon enough."

The front door of the flat opened.

They all turned.

A beautiful, redheaded woman entered the room.

Tonks knew right away that she was Lily.

Lily beamed, her brilliant emerald eyes sparkling. "Hello Tonks," she said. She took hurried steps forward. She placed both hands on Tonks's cheeks and brought her forehead forward to touch hers. For two woman who had never met this felt oddly comfortable. Lily was also a mother who was here without her child. She was a mother taken far too early by a war with Lord Voldemort. They instantly understood each other. "I am so sorry that you had to leave your son."

Tonks pressed her lips together. "I'm sorry too," she said. Tonks wanted to be with Teddy so badly it hurt.

"But you know you did what you needed to do," Lily whispered to her.

"I know," Tonks replied. "It doesn't make it any easier though."

"I know," Lily agreed. She released Tonks's face and moved towards James.

Remus took Tonks back into his arms as if he could not stand it a moment longer.

"How is he?" James asked Lily somewhat uncomfortably.

Lily gave James a light smile. "He's alright. Shocked, still adjusting, but alright."

Tonks panicked as she thought that perhaps Lily and James were talking about Harry. Harry should not be there yet. Then Tonks saw the sour expression on Sirius's face.

"I guess we are just going to have to put up with him," Sirius said grumpily.

"Sirius," Lily scolded.

Tonks glanced back at Remus in confusion.

"Severus is here," Remus said.

"What!" Tonks exclaimed. "What would Snape be doing here? Or are we not in the place I thought we were?"

Sirius laughed.

"It's not what you think," Remus said calmly. "It's not what any of us thought."

"It's a long, convoluted story," Mad-Eye interjected. "We'll explain later."

"Who else?" Tonks asked hesitantly.

"Fred," Remus said gravely.

"Oh no," Tonks breathed. She thought of the Weasleys. How would George cope without Fred? Tonks thought of Molly; they both lost sons tonight, just in different ways.

"Dora," Remus whispered, his voices strained. He seemed to have guessed what she was thinking. "We'll look after Fred for Molly and Arthur."

"I never would've thought my heart could break after I was already dead," Tonks cried. Beating or not, her heart was broken for all those they had left behind, for Teddy.

"It's because you have so much love in you," Sirius said. "That doesn't just go away. If anything, it gets stronger here. And with any great love there will be pain no matter where you are."

"And I know it's not how you imagined it," Lily chimed in, "but you will be there for every heartbreak and for every beautiful moment in your son's life." She gave Tonks a warm smile. "Those we love never truly leave us."

Tonks took in a deep breath and nodded.

"And speaking of which," James said. "Harry needs us now. Remus are you coming?"

"Yes," Remus agreed. "Of course, I am."

"Is Harry…?"

"No," Lily said. "But he's calling for us and needs us more than ever."

"I'll come back to you soon," Remus told Tonks.

"I know you will," Tonks said.

"I'll keep her out of trouble while you're gone, Lupin," Mad-Eye said.

Tonks rolled her eyes. "Really what trouble could I get up to now?"

"You'd be surprised," Sirius said.

"I love you, Dora," Remus told her.

"I love you more," Tonks replied.

"Well," Remus said with that marauder's grin on his face, "I guess I'll have an eternity to prove you wrong,".

XXX

Dear Readers,

Just the epilogue left to post. Thank you so much for reading.

Thora Jane