The grandfather clock chimes.
It's the only sound in the otherwise silent (and dark) room with 'Dora's family fast asleep.
Remus rises from his seat by the window, hands tucked into the threadbare pockets of his robes, his fingers (inadvertently) winding themselves around his wand (it's instinct) like he's expecting a group of Death Eaters to tear down the doors, shouting Avada Kedavras in their wake and wrenching the very last tokens of his self away from him.
There are more lines on his face, crudely etched into his skin, hiding away smiles and laughs of the past, replacing them instead with the hard, grim truth of the present.
The war was never over.
To believe otherwise is idealistic.
This feels all too familiar. The call to arms from the Order, the missions, the danger. He can almost hear Sirius and James arguing over who of the two deserves the more dangerous task, which wizard could beat the other in a duel with their eyes closed and laughing as they come to some ridiculous agreement. He can almost see Lily, arms crossed and glaring before she rolls her eyes because boys will be boys, and at that moment, every last one of them feels invincible.
Remus can't help but feel the thrum of war humming in his veins again, the call of liquid red violence blossoming in his gut, greeting him like an old friend and appealing to that other side of him, the one that forces itself out every month under the full moon. It pulls him forward and he will rise, readily, to meet it.
And within it all, he can't help but feel the sadness - the almost unbearable, heart-wrenching sadness that weighs him down like he might be drowning; grief and terror forcing its way down his throat, rendering him unable to speak about the First Wizarding War, even now.
Upstairs, he can hear 'Dora singing Teddy to sleep.
It's a soft, surreal sound - so odd to hear, considering the times. It soothes like a balm, relaxes him so he relinquishes (just for this second) his hold on his demons, wand left in his pocket and his right hand touching the cold wooden banister of the staircase as he makes his way up to join her.
He whispers promises and apologies, We do what we must and I'm sorry, 'Dora, knowing from experience, from seeing it with his own two eyes, that children born in wars are bittersweet omens, toeing the line between a blessing and a curse (being blessed and being cursed, never knowing which is which) and gazes into the mirror of his own eyes staring back at him from the crib, wide-eyed with wonder and reverence.
He can't sleep, 'Dora says, changing the subject, her fingers pressing lightly against his wrist. Her usually bright hair is a dull brown, her expression unreadable. She doesn't have to add, I wish I could go too, because he can feel it in the way her touch is urgent, almost desperate.
And her Be careful as he grabs his cloak from the hook by their closet door sounds more like I'll join you soon than he would like.
On his way out, he spares a glance at the grandfather clock by the front door, tick-tocking its unrelenting rhythm, looking for reassurance from Father Time and finding none.
History repeats itself, disguised under a slightly different mask, a slightly different cloak.
And he is alone again, feeling even more so as he draws his cloak tighter around his shoulders in the crisp night air, his right hand already in his pocket for his wand, before he Disapparates.