Strangeways, Here We Come
There was quite a distinction between expecting something to happen and reaching the inevitable moment when it finally occurred.
Theoretically, he knew it was coming (then again, how could he not?). He had had plenty of time to plan for the occasion (even though his initial reactions had admittedly been less than stellar). He had even begun to feel eagerly impatient (although he now knew better than to mention such a thing to his wife, who so eloquently had pointed out, "You're bloody impatient? How do you think I feel? I look like I swallowed a troll!").
However, those abstract expectations still failed to adequately prepare him for the real thing, because when Tonks waddled into the kitchen one spring morning and without ceremony announced, "Remus, I think my water just broke", he dropped the cup of tea he'd been holding.
The teacup smashed onto the floor and he looked down at his suddenly soaking feet in surprise. Then, he glanced back up at his wife. And then back down to the tea.
He was slowly trying to process how exactly to react when Andromeda called out from the other room, "What did you break this time, Nymphadora?"
"My water, Mum!" she shouted back.
"Oh, well, just clean up the spill and Reparo the cup as best you can, dear..."
"No, Mum, my water broke!" she yelled back in exasperation. "And I think I broke Remus too, while I was at it."
It was only after Andromeda dashed into the room and both women were eyeing him confusedly that he snapped out of his stupor.
"The baby's coming?" he asked dopily.
"That's usually what a woman's water breaking indicates, yes," the older witch responded dryly, before putting her arms around her daughter and ushering her away. "Now, let's get Nymphadora upstairs, shall we?"
"Oh, yes, yes, of course," he practically shouted, before following the pair up the stairs with his arms stretched out at the ready, prepared to catch Tonks should she trip.
Once she was situated comfortably (or as comfortably as she could be, considering the circumstances) in bed, he frantically asked, "Is there anything you need, love? Another blanket? Extra pillows? Some tea? I could go downstairs and try to brew you a Calming Draught, or –"
"I'm fine," she insisted, patting his hand. "Although a Calming Draught sounds like a good idea right about now."
"Yes. For you."
That shut him up for a bit. He tried his best to control his panic, although slow breathing, pacing, and copious amounts of tea drinking did not seem to help much on that count.
It was the waiting that got to him. Hypothetically preparing for the miracle of life was one thing, but now that it was imminent? ...Perhaps he should have attempted that Calming Draught after all.
Months of expectation were now being compressed into a few impatient hours; and then suddenly they were condensed into an intense few minutes. Before Remus could fully comprehend what had just happened, his wife was crying tears of joy, and he was staring down in amazement at the tiny body bundled in her arms.
Yes, it was one thing to expect something in the abstract; but now Remus finally realized that all that anticipation, fear, excitement, and even dread, was nothing compared to the joyous reality.
And that is it, ladies and jellybeans – the end of Strangeways. Some of you might be disappointed that I'm stopping it here, but I like things to wrap up on a pleasant note, and well... if you recall the ending of Deathly Hallows (which I've quite happily repressed), things didn't go so well for our favourite pair (although I think denial is a lovely thing – they were just taking a nap, dammit!). This way, I figure sticklers for canon already know how things 'officially' end, while those who prefer to imagine a better (and methinks a more deserving) fate can do so at their leisure.
Anyhoo, I thought it was fitting that I posted this final chapter today, as it is exactly 5 years after I posted the very first. I honestly can't believe it's been that long! I'd like to thank everybody who stuck with this fic from the beginning, those who joined it halfway through, and also those who popped in just recently – I wholeheartedly appreciate you taking the time to peruse my inane ramblings. And let's be honest, I would be even more appreciative if you took a few seconds to leave me a review and let me know how you liked it!
To answer a question that I'm sure will be asked, I don't know what the future will hold for me in terms of more fics – let's be honest, I'd love to sit in my pyjamas all day and read and write fanfic, although that may be slightly unrealistic! I'm not ruling more stories out completely, but I'm not making any promises either. So I guess I'll just take this opportunity to once again say thanks while I still can. It's been delightful. :)
- ish -