He spent most of his time pacing, unable to settle his worried, wakeful mind to anything for very long. And despite his exhaustion, even when he tried to sleep, he merely tossed and turned with terrible thoughts of Nymphadora’s ruse uncovered by the Death Eaters, and then Bellatrix emerging from the crowd of them, cackling madly as she tortured her niece before mercifully dealing the killing blow. Even then, she might not make it painless, there were so many other ways to kill besides with a wand….
“Dora…” he murmured longingly into the pillow of the sofa, half-asleep and half-awake in a way, when dawn broke the curtains of the sitting room. “Please…” he prayed. “Please….”
Remus leapt from the sofa, fully alert, despite the itch of his tired eyes, his aching bones; his heart pounded wildly in his chest, and his first, automatic thought was that he was under attack, and then his second horrid thought was that Nymphadora had returned, but she had been hurt badly and had fallen against the front door, or worse…it was Mad-Eye banging the door with his stump, here to tell him that—
“Remus!” hissed Nymphadora’s voice through the keyhole in the front door.
Remus, who had his wand half-drawn, tucked it back in his belt, but still he approached the door with extreme caution.
“Declare yourself!” he demanded.
“It’s me, Nymphadora Lupin, nee Tonks, though I still much prefer to go by Tonks, but I allow certain beloved werewolves to call me by Dora, my dad’s preferred term of endearment and alternative to that god-awful full name my fool of a mother branded me with. Anyway, I’m the wife of Remus Lupin, hence my married name—”
Remus flung the door open after he lifted the wards.
Nymphadora flung herself into his arms and he tugged her inside, shutting the door behind her and reinstating the wards. He felt her up and down, checking her for any sort of injury, but then when he came up and saw her heart-shaped face in the semi-darkness of the front hall, aside from a few smudges, she was otherwise unhurt.
“Fell down on my way outta there,” she panted, throwing her arms around him again and hugging him close. “I’d disguised myself as Alecto, there was a meeting at Malfoy Manor. They say that You-Know-Who’s arriving there, but I didn’t stick around to greet him: I just barely made it out before I got found out though. Otherwise, everything went perfectly.”
“Yeah, and I found out: they’ve got a twenty-four-seven watch on Number Four, Privet Drive. We’re going to have to figure out some sort of sneak maneuver. They assume though that we’ll try and move him on his birthday, so if we decide to do it before then, we may still have some element of surprise—”
Remus trembled a little as he relaxed, though he still held Nymphadora to him. “Well, at least we know what to expect. How many are watching the house?”
“Just a couple,” Nymphadora whispered. “It’s merely a precaution, they don’t think Harry or we have a chance of getting him out of there, before or after his mum’s charm breaks.”
“Oh Dora….” He pulled back at last and had another look at her face. She looked as though she hadn’t slept in days (even though it had only been one night without sleep) with dark, haggard circles under her eyes, her skin paler than usual. “Come on, you look positively knackered. You should rest.”
“Speak for yourself.” Nymphadora managed a smile and reached up to touch his face, which undoubtedly must have been just as haggard as hers.
He managed a smile of his own in turn, now that he could be content that for the moment she was back and safe with him again. “Why don’t we both get some rest then? We can relay this information to the Order after we’ve had a little sleep.”
So they went upstairs together, and curled up on their bed in each other’s arms without even bothering to slip into pajamas first.
Now that the Order knew what they were up against, they began working to devise a plan as to how to remove Harry from Privet Drive safely.
Meanwhile, Remus and Nymphadora were left privately to worry away the time until the Ministry summons that coming Monday morning. They worried away that time spending time together as if there was no likelihood at all on Monday that they would be forced to sign their marriage into non-existence, because if they thought about it, they simply conjured images of wild though not completely implausible situations in which the Ministry resorted to trickery like the Imperius Curse (Dolores Umbridge wouldn’t care a spell that it was illegal, so long as she got her way) to get them to sign those annulment papers with their full volition, or maybe they would just merely arrest them: their marriage would remain binding, but it might as well have been destroyed because they would be separated from each other for the rest of their lives by prison walls, or…or…worse.
Really, it was best not to think about it until they had to.
So, Thursday they filled out the form for the appeal against the summons that Kingsley gave them a copy of, and they sent it off to the Ministry with Semele. Before they had filled it out, they had asked Orpheus to act as one of the their witnesses, and he had promptly agreed. Thus they could fill in his name in the blank provided, along with Kingsley’s name as a second witness.
Later that evening Semele returned with a letter confirming their appeal. Though it wasn’t much to celebrate, it still called for some wine and the equal sharing of Molly’s delicious treacle tart.
Then Friday night was a full moon. They bid each other farewell on the doorstep, and then Nymphadora watched him as he melted into the twilit trees of the forest before she put up the special ant-werewolf wards. As she would tell him later, she listened to his moonlit howls late into the night from where she sat nestled in the armchair in the sitting room, which was where she ended up falling asleep.
Then in the morning, she went out in search for him, and found him curled and shivering by the river, his hands and face bloody with the deer kill the wolf had made. She wrapped him up in a cloak and helped him back to the house in the light of the early sun, and she tended to him as she had done the previous full moon, cleaned him up and saw to his wounds, and then she tucked him into bed and kissed him on the brow. These events occurred for him in something of a haze, and then he was left with the throb of his muscles and bones as he drifted off to sleep.
She stayed near, leaving only to tend to household things like dusting or some laundry that would soon pile up if not remedied. As per usual though, Remus didn’t really wake up until much later in the evening, and sometimes even by then he hadn’t slept off all of the exhaustion from the transformation.
When he called for her, she came upstairs with a little broth, and as she watched him eat it, she reassured him that all of the blood on him had been strictly animal blood, no human blood whatsoever.
“Oh…thank God,” he sighed, and took another sip of broth. He noticed that she had slipped in a Strengthening Solution of sorts, to help him overcome some of his exhaustion, and when he looked up at her, she winked.
Then she took his empty bowl away and kissed him again. Before she could withdraw, he reached up and touched her cheek. “I love you.”
She kissed his palm and giggled softly. “Sweetheart,” she murmured, and then she left.
Remus watched her go, and kept his eyes on the empty door until they closed and he sunk once again into the dark velvet embrace of sleep.
When he woke again, it was to midmorning Sunday sunlight streaming through the window and the peaceful rhythm of twittering birdsong. He noticed too that Nymphadora had crawled into bed with him, smelling of lilac and cacao, as well as her sweet lilac soap and the orchid of her washed and dried hair, draped in a silken ivory nightgown with her arms wrapped around him, her face burrowed against him.
He smiled and stroked her bare arm, so smooth and perfect, no scars marring the skin, except for that one on her shoulder.
The one that he had given her.
He pulled her closer, and prayed as hard as he could that all would go well the following day, and when Nymphadora asked him when she woke and looked up at him why his eyes were so red, he lied that it was merely due to summer allergens.
The following morning, Remus and Nymphadora walked side by side to the security desk in the atrium at half past eight, and Nymphadora presented Remus to Eric as being there as a visitor to the Ministry—she herself was able to get in as a recognized Ministry employee.
After his wand was cleared through security, they took one of the lifts down to Level One, Minister and Support Staff. There they were admitted to a small office—not Umbridge’s, but more likely a useful peon’s—and were left there to wait.
“At least we made it here early,” said Nymphadora, pointing out the clock above the office owner’s desk, which read a quarter until nine.
“Yes, but I’m surprised they haven’t tried to pull a tricky time change of sorts like they did with Harry’s hearing two years ago,” Remus said, his mouth a little dry.
“Of course, they could just come in here and tell us that indeed all along the summons had been scheduled for eight o’clock this morning, and not nine, and then they’ll simply have us arrested for failing to show up.” Nymphadora gave a nervous laugh that was more like a cough.
Remus reached over and took her hand. “I won’t let them take you,” he told her, looking her square in the face. “They can do what they want with me, but you….”
“No, I’m not letting them take you either,” she insisted, and clasped his hand in both of hers. “I’d never see you again. It wouldn’t be worth it to keep me out of Azkaban if I couldn’t see your face.”
“They’d no more let us be together in prison than if we managed to get out of being arrested. They’d find some other way to keep us apart.”
“Remus, look…I mean, Kingsley did promiseus everything was going to be fine.”
He sighed, unable to think of anything else, and brought her knuckles up to the comforting warmth of his mouth, while she in turn reached over and touched the side of his face, stroking his cheekbone soothingly with the pad of her thumb, despite his fear being reflected in her own eyes.
“We have to have faith. Stop letting your mind find it’s way to all of these wild—”
“Hem, hem! That is enough, there will be no physical contact permitted between you for the duration of this summons!” snapped the cold, girly voice of Dolores Umbridge.
Remus and Nymphadora sprang apart, and Remus knew at once that indeed every opportunity would be used to keep them separate, to disunite them and bring them to their knees from there.
Nymphadora meanwhile could barely contain the retort she desperately wished to toss at the vile, squat, toad-like woman in pink who now strode into the office, followed by a spineless little man who was probably the peon who owned this office, and that retort was undoubtedly something along the lines of: “We’re married,we can touch as much as we want!”
Dolores dropped a stack of parchment on her desk, and the little man behind her took his seat behind his desk.
“Mister Welchley, if you would be so kind as to read the charges against these two individuals?” Dolores ordered him sweetly.
“Of c-course,” Welchley stammered. He put on a pair of reading spectacles from inside his desk with a shaking hand and haltingly read out the reason for which Remus and Nymphadora had been summoned from the top piece of parchment on the stack.
“Thank you, Mister Welchley.” Dolores’ batrachian smile widened horribly as she turned to Remus and Nymphadora. She produced from off her own clipboard clutched in her flabby arm a copy of the decree that had just been signed by Rufus Scrimgeor the day before banning mixed marriages between lycanthropes and non-lycanthropes.
She held it up for them so they could clearly perceive the signature.
“As you can see,” she told them, “dear Minister Scrimgeor has signed this ban into law now, and as you well know, there are times when we can enforce such things a fortnight before their signature if necessary.” She reattached the copy of the decree to her clipboard. “Now, I do notice that you two filed for an appeal to this summons—” She snapped her fat, ringed fingers impatiently and Welchley very anxiously sifted through the stack of parchment on his desk for one sheaf in particular, which she then snatched out of his hand “—and according to the records, we approved. So, I am presuming that in that appeal, you plan to clear some issue we may have overlooked. Perhaps to try and tell us that Remus Lupin here is not a werewolf, when in fact his name has been down in the records since he was seven years old, or maybe you wish to tell me that even though you filed a marriage certificate with your names on it, the ceremony was never actually performed.” She gave a ridiculously skeptical giggle, and stood waiting for her helpless pieces of prey before her to defend themselves.
Remus and Nymphadora glanced at each other, and then Remus croaked, “We have two witness, madam.”
“Ah…witnesses to what? Witnesses to your not being married, or witnesses to your not being a lycanthrope?”
“Erm….” Remus was just fishing for a way to proceed, when there came a knock at the door and Dolores called for the arrival to enter.
Or rather, the arrivals.
“Oh…Shacklebolt? And ah…I don’t believe I know you….”
“Orpheus Green, Ministry-instated officiant, performer of marriages and funerals, at your service.” Orpheus gave a tip of his hat to Dolores good-naturedly and he and Kingsley both entered the room.
“Oh I see. You two are the witnesses for the appeal of this summons?” Dolores correctly surmised.
“Indeed, Madam Undersecretary,” said Kingsley as Orpheus closed the door behind them. “I am Nymphadora Lupin’s boss, and Orpheus Green here is the one who married her and Remus.
“We are here to point out in the first place that under no circumstances can you force these two to annul their marriage when it is against their will. If you will recall, marriage according to our laws—of the most ancient sort, I should add, and quite beyond repeal—is bound by a contract similar in nature to that of the contract employed with champions of the Triwizard Tournament, although, in this case, there is an option to exit such a contract, however no one but they themselves can put it asunder.”
“Indeed,” Orpheus happily put in, “and I am afraid that therefore, no matter how many times they sign those documents there, so long as it is against their wills, their signatures will simply disappear, and after a certain amount of attempts, these said documents will merely shrivel up. Your attempts at annulment will be futile.”
But to Remus’ dread, Dolores continued to smile that horribly sweet smile of hers. Was she going to force their will with Imperius Curse after all? Right in front of the Head of the Auror Office and a Ministry officiant no less?
“Yes, well, in that case,” the awful little woman declared, “I will simply have to see to it that they are punished for their illicit act.”
“The decree banning their marriage was not signed into law at the time of their union,” said Orpheus, just as tranquilly.
“But as you know, such laws can be enforced within a fortnight prior to signing of such laws if deemed necessary—in this case, I deem it very necessary in terms of an effort towards maintaining wizarding security, and according to the date of this marriage certificate, that too fits the bill, for they were married less than a fortnight prior, more precisely, one-week-and-a-half prior.”
Dolores snapped her fingers again, and Welchley produced another sheaf of parchment from the stack on his desk without question.
“Something I brought in as a precaution. I had Rufus attach his signature to it last night, after he signed the bill outlawing such mixed marriages as yours.”
She passed the parchment to Orpheus.
Orpheus stared at it in his hands before he looked at Remus and Nymphadora, his expression blank.
“What is it, Orpheus?” Nymphadora asked in an urgent undertone.
“It’s…a warrant…for your arrest….” Numbly, he handed it to her and Remus, and Remus and Nymphadora leaned together to read:
THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENT HEREBY CALLS FOR THE ARREST AND IMPRISONMENT WITHOUT TRIAL OF NYMPHADORA TONKS AND REMUS LUPIN.
Scrawled below this was Rufus Scrimgeor’s squiggled signature.
Panic sent Remus’ heart pounding sickly in his chest. No, this was not happening. This could not happen.
He looked up at Dolores, and tried not to appear that he was pleading. “This seems in order, Madam Undersecretary,” he said in a voice of forced calm, “but I do ask that you only arrest me, and me alone. I’ll even sign the annulment papers willfully if that’s what it takes. I only ask that you not have my wife arrested.”
“Well, you can start by discontinuing to refer to her as your wife,” Dolores told him, a bit of bite to her otherwise honeyed tones.
“But I am his wife!” Nymphadora snapped before she could stop herself, jumping to her feet. “And as his wife, I’m going to be arrested beside him!”
“Dora, no!” Remus hissed at her, and he rose too in an effort to hold her back.
“Very well then, I’m not fussed either way, so long as you two are made examples of. I won’t have you lawless types corrupting our pure way of life and disrupting the proper order of things. Mister Welchley, if you would be so kind as to call upon Ministry Security to have these two—”
“NO!” Remus stepped in front of Nymphadora.
“Mister Lupin, we can do this the hard way, or we can do this the easy way,” Dolores threatened, all sweetness gone, her grey eyes more ferrous in their hardness than ever.
“Or we can do this the legal way,” said Kingsley very quietly, and everyone looked to see that his expression was still very cool, quite complacent in fact.
“Shacklebolt, would you care to explain what on earth you mean by that?” Dolores demanded, her patience wearing thin.
Kingsley’s grin widened. “Your preemptive strike is all well and good, Madam Undersecretary, but as far as arresting them or separating them—in other words, punishing them to make examples of them—I’m afraid you’ve not the power to do that.”
“And what precisely makes you say that, Shacklebolt?” Dolores’ voice clearly trembled with seething, underlying anger. “You can’t tell me that I can’t arrest them merely because they are bound by matrimonial contract? If you’ll recall, we were very easily able to arrest the Lestranges, a married couple, among others. So even if they stay legally married, I can still arrest them and place them as far away from each other as I wish.”
“No, you can’t.”
“Why ever not?”
“Because I have been to see the Minister—” The look of shock on Orpheus’ face that matched that of the looks of shock on Remus and Nymphadora’s faces indicated that even he was unaware that such an appointment had taken place— “and he has agreed to grant Mr. and Mrs. Lupin full pardon.”
“On what grounds?!” Dolores snarled, unable to control herself at this point.
“For their acts of valor during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower on the night of the death of Albus Dumbledore. For indeed, even though Hogwarts is not and should never be an outpost of the Ministry—” At this, Kingsley was clearly pleased to see a muscle in Dolores’ upper lip twitch “—their having come to the aid of the school in its dire need to protect it, completely at the risk of their own lives, is a service to the welfare of wizardkind, and Minister Scrimgeor, when taking this into consideration, saw fit to pardon them for their ah…‘misdemeanor’.”
The increasing icy steel of Dolores’ expression suggested she was not at all pleased with the way Kingsley had said “misdemeanor”.
“Oh? Don’t believe me? Oh please, do see for yourself.” Kingsley held up a piece of offical-looking parchment, and indeed, it read:
I, RUFUS SCRIMGEOR, BEING OF SOUND MIND AND BODY, DO HEREBY PARDON NYMPHADORA TONKS AND REMUS LUPIN OF ANY INFRACTION OF THE LAW THAT THEY MAY HAVE PERFORMED, AND DO HEREBY ALSO SEE FIT TO RECOGNISE THEM BY THEIR PROPER AND LEGALLY-BOUND MARRIED NAMES OF MR AND MRS REMUS LUPIN.
And there again, below, was the squiggle of Scrimgeor’s signature.
Rack that up to one decent thing he managed to do so far in his reign as Minister for Magic.
Dolores’ toad-like face swelled in the face of this humiliating blow to her own sense of superiority and self-righteousness and turned a sickening shade of purple as she struggled to speak through her ire, and then deflated as though she’d been popped with a pin, and the color drained from her face.
“In that case, I shall then strip Mrs. Lupin—” Dolores addressed Nymphadora quite mockingly, causing Remus to clench his fist for a moment “—of her title as Auror!”
“I’m afraid that’s out of the question too, Madam Undersecretary.” Kingsley tucked the rolled-up pardon back inside of his robes and folded his arms. “Even if you do work for the Minister, I think I speak for the entire confederation of we Aurors when I say: keep your nose out of our department.”
“Ach! Very well!” she barked splenetically. “I suppose we shall have to drop the charges. Welchley, come along! I’ve had enough of these half-breed-lovers and their mangy, no-good pet!” She spat in Remus’ direction, but Remus did not flinch.
Orpheus and Kingsley politely (adding insult to injury) stepped out of her way as she stormed out of the office, Welchley hurrying to follow her after he’d hastily recollected the stack of parchment in his arms.
Remus and Nymphadora stared at Orpheus’ stunned yet elated expression, and then Kingsley’s triumphant one, before they looked at each other.
They were free. They could stay married, and more importantly stay together.
It was as if all his worries and cares and misgivings about whether he was still doing the right thing by her and by both of them no longer mattered. If they could overcome this obstacle, certainly there was no reason to think that acting with their feelings and getting married had been a mistake?
Unable to speak, they took hold of each other’s hands, gripping each other tightly, trembling in the felicity of their deliverance.
“Thank you, Kingsley,” Remus finally managed to say very quietly to their friend over her shoulder.
Nymphadora looked around and said, “Yeah, cheers, King, for coming to our rescue,” even as she still clutched her husband’s hands in hers. “We owe you one.”
“You don’t owe me a thing,” Kingsley insisted. “Though, unfortunately, I’m afraid you two are going to have to separate, seeing as how today is also Tonks’ first day back at work.”
Nymphadora rolled her eyes, but she wasn’t really truly frustrated with him. How could she be?
She turned to Remus. “I suppose duty calls.” She kissed him on the cheek. “See you back at home?”
Remus couldn’t help but smile as he allowed the idea of her coming home to him at quitting time—that she would be able to do so—play in his mind, the truth of it, the reality of it.
“I’ll be there,” he promised, and he kissed her back.
They shared a wonderful dinner that night. Remus decided to go for it—it was a night worth celebrating—and he bought a very dear pheasant at the market, and then he roasted it along with fresh wild summer greens and carrots, and he selected a wine the color of liquid gold, and for dessert was a simple summertime treat of strawberries and cream.
Nymphadora claimed that everything was divine, and her palate seemed as titillated as it had been on her twenty-third birthday when he had cooked her that duck in orange sauce over a bed of wild rice. Everything seemed brighter and richer though—the flavors, the candlelight—simply because they were together sharing this meal, they weren’t going to be forced apart by one so abhorrent as Dolores Umbridge, they weren’t going to be hauled off to prison, or forced to annul their marriage.
If they wanted it to, it would end on their terms alone.
Though as Remus contemplated her sitting across from him at the dining table, at which he had shared many a meal with his beloved parents growing up, he couldn’t imagine ever parting with her. As before, when they were told they were free, all doubts and fears that had essayed to plague him as usual were cast aside like sand in the foaming surf, and seemed of little importance.
The only thing that was important was he and she belonged to each other.
She was in the middle of relating to him a comical anecdote that had occurred at work earlier that day, but she paused when she noticed the deeply loving and desirous look he was giving her in between the lit candles.
Not that he wasn’t listening, and to illustrate that, he said, “No please, go on. Kingsley said what to Dawlish?”
Nymphadora’s smile widened in a knowing way, and she continued with her story as she took a sip of her wine. At the hilarious conclusion, they both shared a laugh, which perhaps was made funnier merely by the fact that it was a moment they were sharing together in utter happiness.
The strawberries and cream in and of themselves were an enjoyable affair, because the two of them shared the dish of cream and strawberries, and occasionally fed each other across the table, and Remus couldn’t have cared less if anyone had rolled their eyes or thought they looked ridiculous.
Then, after a sigh of contentment, Nymphadora looked out of the window, made black by the night, her own heart-shaped face reflected in it. She idly swirled her last strawberry in the cream. Leaning her cheek in her hand, she mused, “It’s lovely to know that it can be this way. That the ugliness of today will be no more than a bump in the road, a hiccup, something that didn’t have to destroy forever what we have. I mean even with the war…I still feel truly free.” She looked at him. “Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Dora, how could I not agree?” He smiled as he nibbled his own last strawberry down to the green nub and then dropped the nub into a third bowl they were using to collect the greens. As he sucked off the berry juice from his fingers, he noticed her looking at him, and her indigo eyes indeed displayed for him a window to her sensual inclination, but in there too, he beheld, there was something more, an extra spark of sorts that he couldn’t quite place.
He felt this begotten and pristine spark reflected in his own eyes, as if something new and extraordinary lay contained within them both, waiting with ardent expectation to become commingled.
“Remus?” Nymphadora whispered.
“Yes?” he whispered back.
“I’ve just discovered a new obstacle in our marriage.”
“Oh? And what might that be?”
“Indeed. Well, I have a solution for that….” He rose from the table and walked around it to her side.
She stood at his approach and wound her arms around his neck as he slipped his around her waist and she leaned up to take the kiss he offered her. With every beat of his heart for her, he felt the greatest thrum of vitality, such as he had never known—perhaps it was the taste of that wonderful wine lingering on her lips—but it thrilled him so terribly and sweetly.
Her arms slid down so that her hands rested on his shoulders, and he took one last languorous drink from her before he withdrew from her. She gazed at him a moment in beautiful wonder, and as if in some kind of slow dream he reached up and pushed her Auror’s robes gently off of her shoulders to reveal her black t-shirt underneath. She giggled expectantly and took his face in her hands and kissed him once, before she slid away and walked with a saucy step around him, waving a beckoning hand behind her, swaying her hips and giving him an utterly irresistible look of allurement over his shoulder.
“Come here you,” he growled, and he grabbed her from behind by the waist and gave her a very small love bite or two on her neck, at which she twittered with pleasure. Then she gave a great whoop of laughter as he swung her up into his arms, and he laughed too as they nuzzled and necked on their ascent to the bedroom.
There he laid her upon the sheets and as he leaned over her and kissed her, her hands shoved his robes aside, and then she reached down and undid the buttons of his shirt one by one, and then she shoved that back off his shoulders too.
His own hands wandered up her shirt, and then they had to break away briefly as he lifted it off of her, whereupon he dove back into the kiss and reached around to unclasp her bra, to feel the silk of her skin, while she lovingly traced the scars across his chest: her fingers meandered so teasingly that he seized up hotly with his ardor and could scarcely get his breath, even as quickly as it was coming with the racing of his heart.
He rolled over onto his back and she went with him, and he held her close and felt her own heart hammering against his, beating just as fast to match it.
“Dora,” he gasped, his hands stroking along her naked back and sides.
“Yes?” she replied, just as breathlessly.
She lifted her head away a moment and looked down into his face in the dark.
He reached down and fiddled with the button and zipper of her jeans. “Do you feel it?”
“Feel it?” She likewise fumbled with undoing his trousers.
“Yeah…I do….what is it? I love it….”
“Me too…it’s…like it’s life….”
As he joined with her, he thought for a moment, even as other thoughts of joy and ecstasy raced towards that glorious point of the carnal macrocosm, and then the epiphany dawned upon him, and he held her more tightly to him, and whispered in her ear: “My life…it’s you…you’re my life….”
She sucked in her breath. “And mine…you’re mine….”
She couldn’t say anything more because she came then, and he followed with a cry of her name, and in the quaking, happy wake of such explosive splendor, they clasped to each other, fused as tenderly together as a briar and a rose, the sublime silver burn of the moon between them like a coupling of bright steel that could not be broken.
In a little while, Remus would descend the stairs briefly to see to blowing out the candles and extinguishing the lamps, the wards already sealing them up tight as a drum, but for now they were cradled in on another’s loving arms in the peace of the night, the cadence of the cricket song, the sough of the trees.
The pulse of life.
In the light of the waning moon that streamed through his bedroom window, Ted had fallen asleep again in his clothes upon his bed, the journal again serving as an accidental pillow, and there he dreamed away, just as all those years ago, the universe had dreamed him away into existence.