Chapter 1: The World Cup
Remus heard the familiar banging from upstairs and sighed. It was impossible to concentrate on his Daily Prophet anymore. He needed peace and quiet in the morning—a peace and quiet he had had for over fifteen years of living in this apartment. There had never been so much as a whisper of activity that trickled through the rather thin walls and floors.
But, sometime over the past year, while he had been teaching at Hogwarts, she had moved in upstairs, and she seemed to be quite fond of having rather raucous sex in the morning. Never at night, he had noticed, only in the morning.
He had never spoken to her. He did not even know her name. But he could recognize her voice crying things he would rather not recognize through the ceiling of his apartment and it did not please him. She was young, and always had some young "hot stuff" bloke with her and this morning was no different. Today, his name was Edwin—or so he gathered from her cries.
He missed Hogwarts. He never had had to put up with sex-screams there, during the collective eight years he had been at the castle. In seventh year, James had always left a signal on the door when he needed privacy with Lily and last year, he had had his own room, far away from any horny students—or teachers.
It wasn't that he was entirely displeased to be home. On the contrary, he liked his apartment. He had many fond memories of this apartment. He had a room devoted to his monthly needs that was as secure as any wizard could make it—a room that was actually quite nice now that he could get Wolfsbane potion from St. Mungos, even if it did cost him an arm and a leg.
He had lived here since had left school. At first, James had lived with him (when they had rented the place), then he had bought it from batty old Mrs. Dovegrove, who had passed on several years later, leaving most of the building to her bad-tempered nephew. The same bad-tempered nephew who had thought it would be a good idea to let her move in upstairs.
He sighed and folded the paper. There wasn't too much in it, anyway—mostly some nonsense about the preamble to the World Cup tonight. They hadn't even run their employment advertisements today. He chucked the paper in the bin by the fireplace.
He heard a particularly loud moan, groaned and grabbed his keys. He was getting out of here.
Pathetic, Moony, he heard Sirius' voice in the back of his head, being driven out of your own bloody apartment by her. Get a grip, man. Sirius' voice had been absent from his head for the past thirteen-odd years. It had quite forcefully replaced Peter's in June, though.
Oh, lighten up, Padfoot, came James' voice, He has every right to go for a walk without you harping on about how he never has any sex anymore. That's just not nice.
How long has it been, Moony, said Sirius again, Three years? That's one hell of a dry spell.
Oh, be nice, this time, it was Lily's voice, It's hard for Remus, what with all of his friends gone and all of the witches in the world so prejudiced and idiotic. And it's not like he can explain to a muggle that he is a werewolf.
Three little words, darling, said James to Lily, One. Night. Stand. No questions asked. That's it.
Will you all shut up? Remus told them, trying to take charge of his own head. (He really had gone round the twist.) I am not being driven out of my home. It is a nice day and I fancied a walk.
It was a nice day. The sun shone down on him. He breathed deeply and wondered where Sirius was. He had gotten a letter a few days ago. A tremendous tropical bird had flown in through his window as he was setting up breakfast (to the usual morning accompaniment from upstairs).
Well, I have arrived—although I won't be telling you where, as this bird may be intercepted. I trust his loyalty, but he is a bit thick.
Anyway, I am having a lovely time here. Buckbeak and I have seen loads of stuff you wouldn't find in England or in Azkaban. The food is incredible, although I suppose anything is better than what I have been living off for the past however many years.
I hope all is well with you. Hope you find a new job.
Do keep in touch,
He had replied, of course, saying that he was doing well, still unemployed, and that he had a new neighbor who bugged him more than he could put in writing.
Of course, he couldn't tell Sirius exactly how he was feeling. That was not something he had ever done with Sirius. Peter when they had been younger, and James when they had lived together briefly, but never Sirius really. So he had no means of communicating precisely how pathetic he was feeling. For Merlin's sake, he had just been driven out of his bloody apartment because he couldn't deal with the sounds of his neighbor having morning sex. He sighed and glanced at his watch. Just past two in the afternoon.
He walked and walked and walked until the sun was noticeably lower in the west. Somehow his feet had taken him to the Leaky Cauldron. He went inside. It was filled with people, all wearing green.
He sat down at the bar and ordered himself a shot of firewhisky. "You here for the game, Remus?" asked Tom.
"I suppose," said Remus.
"You aren't wearing any colors. Not sure who to support?"
"I didn't know I would be coming, and I didn't know there would be a party here," he replied shrugging.
"I'd pick Ireland if I were you," said a young woman. Remus was not at all surprised to see that she was dressed entirely in green and had even dyed her hair green for the match.
"Oh yeah?" he asked her.
"Yep. Strongest set of chasers in the world. Sure, Bulgaria's got Krum, but you need a good supportive set of chasers, which Bulgaria hasn't got."
"You're big on quidditch?" asked Remus.
"Played for Hufflepuff for five years. Beater. My dad was surprised to learn that I am, in fact, more coordinated in thin air than I am on land, but there you go."
"Do you still play at all?"
"Sometimes with my mates. But I don't really have time for it anymore. Job training."
"Wow," said Remus, quite impressed.
"You said it. Tons of work. They should warn more students about that when they think of applying. But I'm doing all right, so…I'm Tonks, by the way. You?"
"Lupin. Remus Lupin."
"And you take it shaken, not stirred?" asked Tonks, grinning.
"Nothing. My dad's muggleborn, so I was raised on James Bond movies. He always introduces himself as 'Bond. James Bond,' so I cracked a dumb joke."
"Have you got a first name, Tonks?"
"Yeah. But it is a crime that should be punishable by law, so I won't be sharing it. Sorry. Tonks is fine."
"You here on your own?" asked Remus, half wanting her to have a group of friends to go off to, half wanting her to stay and chat with him about quidditch and James Bond.
"Nah. Most of them got tickets. I didn't know if I'd be able to get time off work, so I couldn't get one. So here I am. I figure at least here there's an ambiance, even if we are only listening to the game. What about you."
Remus thought for a moment. He could be morbid, and reply—rather truthfully—that his friends were dead or banished, or he could lie… "Couldn't get tickets."
"Couldn't, or didn't try?" teased Tonks.
"The latter, really. I'm not extremely interested in quidditch." Tonks looked appalled.
"I'm not sure I can talk to you anymore. Good day to you, sir." She pretended to turn away.
"I used to be. One of my best mates played all the time and probably could have played professionally, but then he died and it kind of turned me off the game for a while."
"I'm sorry. When did he die?"
"Nearly thirteen years ago."
"I'm sorry. But you should be over it by now. Quidditch is holy."
"Of course, that means that he made sure that I knew all that I could about the bloody game, so I am kind of stuck, aren't I?"
"That's not a bad thing, Lupin. Remus Lupin."
"Depends on your perspective, Tonks."
"What do you do?"
"Nothing, currently. I taught Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts last year."
"Ahh. Succumbed to the jinx, did you?"
"Has any man ever survived it?"
"Not to my knowledge," she said, sipping her green drink, "What got you?"
Again, he paused. He could lie and say that the kids annoyed him, or that he couldn't handle teaching, but that didn't seem right. "I'm a werewolf."
She looked at him, and he waited for the look that everyone always got. The look of shock, then horror, then disdain, then the inevitable 'oh, there's someone over there that I wasn't expecting to see, excuse me, lovely to meet you,' and then the end of the conversation.
"That would make teaching hard, I suppose. It must have disrupted your schedule a bit. But with the Wolfsbane potion, you weren't a danger to the kids…"
"Their parents wouldn't have wanted a werewolf teaching them," he sighed, "and after Snape let slip…"
"He would, wouldn't he?"
"I mean, he's a smarmy git, isn't he? He would let slip. He wants the job and Dumbledore never gave it to him."
"And he never liked me much…"
"He never liked anyone much," she laughed.
"I mean, he didn't like me because we were in the same year at school and my friends rather antagonized him."
"Did they, now? Any good stories?"
"A few, but I don't know how trustworthy you are. These stories can't get out."
"Oh, come on." Her green eyes were bright, and he could tell that she would share the stories with anyone she could. But her eyes looked like Lily's and her smile was so warm and she hadn't abandoned him just yet.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Ludo Bagman's voice rang out from the wireless, "welcome! Welcome to the final of the four hundred and twenty-second Quidditch World Cup!"
"I'll let you off the hook for now, but I do expect to hear some," said Tonks while the pub around them cheered as though they were actually at the immense stadium.
"And now, without further ado, allow me to introduce…the Bulgarian National Team Mascots!" Bagman cried.
"Oh. Well, since we can't see them, tell me about tormenting Snape. You have my word of honor that nothing you tell me shall ever reach the ears of my highly interested friends."
"All I am going to give you right now is that he is scared of chipmunks."
"Severus Snape is scared of chipmunks."
Tonks burst into a rather maniacal cackle. "Chipmunks?" she sputtered.
"Indeed. And we learned that one quite by accident," he smiled.
"I wish I'd known that! God, that would have been fun. Could have snuck one into my bag and let it run loose in class."
"My friend James did just that—regularly, as a matter of fact."
"He's a good man, this James. A good man."
"Indeed," said Remus, "It is also thanks to him that we learned that Snape's middle name is Herman."
"Severus Herman Snape! I think you may just be the love of my life!" Tonks' eyes were alight with glee.
"Good thing you ran into me then, isn't it? Or else you would be wasting your time on less enlightened men."
"You mean the t-shirt wearing, sex-addicted, moronic and superficial idiots who happen to always ask me out? I am currently taking a break from them, so it is your lucky night."
Keep going, Moony, Sirius' voice rose, unbidden, She's hitting on you.
Leave him be, Sirius, snapped Lily.
Remus laughed, not entirely sure how to respond.
"So," continued Tonks, slightly more serious now, "is there a Mrs. Lupin, Remus Lupin running around with your several adorable cubs?"
Remus laughed again—bitterly this time.
You are laughing a lot, Moony. Play it cool, commanded James.
"The ones that think they are brave enough to be in a relationship with a werewolf rarely last longer than the first full moon."
"Why's that?" She looked genuinely curious.
"Because when I can't see them for several days because I am recovering, they realize the weight of my condition and say 'Remus…we need to talk.'"
"Well…that's not very sporting of them," sniffed Tonks.
"And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, kindly welcome—the Bulgarian National Quidditch Team! I give you—Dimitrov! Ivanova! Zograf! Levski! Vulchanov! Vulkov! Aaaaaand—Krum!" roared Bagman.
And the game began.
Tonks was very into quidditch. She cheered loudly with every Irish goal—and even did a jig at one point (although that might have been caused by her mild inebriation). She and Remus talked and laughed and talked and laughed and talked and—according to the Sirius, the Lily, and the James in the back of Remus' head—flirted.
When Ireland won, she kissed him. Granted, she kissed several other people as well in celebration, but Remus couldn't help but feel…happy that she had kissed him first. She had ordered another round of firewhisky and they drank and continued talking and laughing and talking and flirting until she stood and said "Right. I have work in….four hours. Care to walk me home so that I might sleep a little?"
So he stood and they left the very cheery pub.
"Hang on," she said, right as they stepped outside. She flinched for a moment and her hair changed from neon green to a rather aggressive shade of bubblegum pink, her eyes from green to brown. "I'm a metamorphagus," she said, shrugging at his impressed expression.
"Very nice. That must be handy."
"It means that I don't have to study how to disguise myself at all—which is good because I nearly fail every stealth and tracking exercise that they give me."
"Why an auror?" he asked.
"Because my dad is muggleborn and my mum isn't and her family is full of nutters who wouldn't mind seeing both of them dead."
"Sounds like a friend of mine's family."
"Did he marry out?"
"Didn't marry at all. But was the first Gryffindor in nearly five hundred years. And was blasted off the family tree. He's quite proud of it, actually."
"I'd be too. I don't even know if I'm on mine. My mum was disowned when she got engaged to my dad. Even if they had broken up, I doubt they would have let her back in. The concept that she would even dream of marrying a muggleborn."
"Wizards are crazy, aren't they?"
"Indeed. I am proof of that, I believe."
"Yes. I was raised by a muggleborn, and yet know nothing about muggles except that they use toasters to make toast, my mother is a housewife and yet I can't fold my own laundry. My best friend is a muggleborn who is more talented than me and yet chose to run off and become a 'performance artist' in New York City, and I don't even have the bloody time to go and visit her, and don't even know what a 'performance artist' is. I spend all of my time working even though I never see my friends anymore and there aren't as many dark wizards running around since You-Know-Who fell and, as the wanker I broke up with this morning so kindly put it, I am a metamorphmagus and yet do not choose to make myself hotter."
"That wasn't nice of him."
"No, it wasn't. And of course, you are a perfectly kind man, and yet the wizarding world collectively discriminates against you for no reason—since they discovered the Wolfsbane potion. It is all just sheer madness."
"Do you partake in the madness, or have you gotten your fair share, being a werewolf?"
"Oh, one would think I had gotten my fair share, but alas…I am a bookworm who can never find a good book, a hard worker who can't find a job, a good friend whose friends keep dying and betraying one another and a man who is forced to listen to the sounds of his neighbors constantly having sex while he himself never gets to. It is most unfortunate."
"Madness indeed," grinned Tonks.
They stopped in front of the door to Remus' building. Remus looked at her curiously.
"Well…this is me…" she said smiling slightly.
"Wait…you live here?"
"I live here."
"Seriously? I'm 4A."
"What?" she asked.
She stared at him. Then blushed furiously.
"Well…goodnight then," she said, and turned quickly, clearly very embarrassed.
"I had a good time tonight," he said to her back.
"Me too," she said quietly, turning back to him, "I'm sorry about…you know."
"Don't worry about it."
"I'll cast a sound barrier charm in the future."
"You know…that never even occurred to me."
She laughed, awkwardly, and then stood, awkwardly, thinking.
"Hey…I don't know if you would be up for it…but are you in the mood for some 'Yay my team won the World Cup sex'? It could totally be a one-night thing."
Six different things happened at once. Or rather, six different reactions erupted in Remus' head.
Good job man! boomed Sirius
It has been so long, moaned desperate-Remus.
Don't do anything you aren't comfortable with, advised Lily.
You hardly know her—and you don't do casual sex, remember? You only have sex with people you are committed to. We have been here before, preached uptight-Remus.
She's nice though. And not too bad looking. And it's not as though you don't really know what to expect from her, said James.
Why not? said a Remus he couldn't recognize.
"All right," said Remus.
She reached out her hand. He took it, and they walked up to apartment 4A together.
Chapter 2: Order, Please
About a year later...
"Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow." Tonks heard her complaints echoing up the stairway of her building. Every time she put weight on her foot, it throbbed in a way that really could not be healthy. She was only on the second floor. She groaned. Two more till she got to her apartment and could soak her foot in a tub of hot water. She felt like an idiot for having set anti-apparation spells around her apartment. Now would be one of the times when she would love to apparate into her own bedroom.
"Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow."
"Tonks?" Remus' head was poking over the banister from just outside his third floor apartment.
"Hi, Remus," she said, trying desperately to seem more in control of her pain than she actually was.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm quite well. You?"
"Your foot looks infected," he said.
"Oh. Well…that happens sometimes…"
"Do you want help?"
Of course he would ask. Of course he would be the perfect gentleman. Ugh. She didn't want him to see her when she looked like this—tired, covered in sweat, soot and blood from a rather hellish day that had turned out to be completely useless. There were times when she hated Rufus Scrimgeour. Now was one of them.
"Um. Sure. If you don't mind…" He was already moving down the stairs. When he stood next to her, he put her arm around his neck, his arm around her waist and helped her hop up the stairs.
When they reached the third floor, she caught a whiff of something delicious from his open door. She also saw a very large black dog.
"I didn't know you had a dog. He must be very quiet," she said, looking at him. She was trying to figure out what kind of dog it was. She decided on a Portuguese Water Dog, although she could be wrong…
"What? Oh! He's not mine. I'm looking after him for a friend," he said.
"That's nice of you. What's his name?"
"Padfoot." The dog barked and began furiously wagging its tail. "Would you like to come in and have dinner? It doesn't look like you can make yourself something to eat like that. Besides, you can soak your foot down here before going upstairs," offered Remus. The dog stared at him in a way that Tonks suspected was almost angry. But it was a dog, so that couldn't be, right?
"All right, if I'm not imposing," she said, a little sheepishly.
"Not at all. I've made enough food for an escaped convict who hasn't had a proper meal in decades," said Remus, smiling.
He helped her hop into his apartment. She had never been inside before. The one time that they had slept together had been in her apartment upstairs. Other than that, they had only had polite conversations when they bumped into each other in the stairwell, usually on the way to or coming home from work.
The apartment itself looked nice. It was freshly painted, light, roomy, but the furniture was rather shabby, something that didn't surprise her because its occupant was a werewolf who was often out of work.
He sat her down by the kitchen table and conjured a tub of warm water into which she placed her right foot. She breathed a sigh of relief.
"I don't suppose you feel like telling me what happened today," he offered, placing a plate and silverware in front of her.
"Can't. Top secret. Which usually means that it has already been leaked to the Daily Prophet."
"Well…I really can't tell you."
"Who would I tell?" asked Remus. Padfoot barked. "Shut up, Padfoot."
"Well…it's mostly that I can't tell you because…well…why the hell not?" There really was no reason not to tell him. He was in no way affiliated with the ministry. If anything, he was probably anti-ministry at the moment because of the Werewolf Acts that had been signed this past year. She hadn't been able to look him in the face for a week after that had happened. Not that it was her fault in any way, but she still felt guilty. He was such a nice, polite, clean man. There was no reason on earth he should have to be subjected to such an atrocious law.
"Have you heard the rumors?" she began.
"What rumors?" he prodded.
"The ones that…You-Know-Who is back, that he killed that poor Diggory boy a week ago and that Harry Potter fought him and escaped?"
"I've…heard a whisper…"
"Well, Fudge believes it's complete bollocks. Thinks that Dumbledore is trying to unseat him and that Potter has gone mad and that Diggory's death was a freak accident. He's been going from department to department saying that if anyone believes Dumbledore, they can go."
Remus raised his eyebrows. Tonks continued.
"Well, it's pretty hard to get your job done when you are an Auror if you are tracing down Death Eaters and trying to convince the Minister of Magic that you are doing it—not because you believe You-Know-Who is back—but because you are a bloody Auror and it is your bloody job. So a lot of us have been a bit ticked off."
"Do you think he's back?" asked Remus.
"I don't know. I don't have any information. But I was talking to Shacklebolt today and we both believe that, whether or not he is back, the Ministry should at least react appropriately to the claims that he is: heighten security, keep the public informed, not suppress the Aurors who are hunting his known followers."
"But do you think he's back?" repeated Remus.
She looked at him. She couldn't read his face, and she was usually very good at deducing what someone was thinking. He was staring at her intently. His hands were clasped on the table. His jaw was tight. Was he asking because he was scared, or was he asking because he knew something?
What could he know though? He's an unemployed werewolf.
An unemployed werewolf who was at Hogwarts when Black appeared there a year ago, an unemployed werewolf who was a known school friend of Black's, an unemployed werewolf whose last serious job came from Dumbledore, an unemployed werewolf who was trying to get her to state her position on You-Know-Who's return.
Either he was a Death Eater or he was supporting Dumbledore.
The fire alarm went off.
"Shit," said Remus, leaping to his feet, "I always forget to take the batteries out of that thing!" He pointed his wand at the offending alarm and it froze with a sound rather like the needle being forcably removed from a vinyl record. He hurried over to the oven, opened it and pulled out a rather burned looking lasagna. He opened the window right above the stove and began waving the smoke out of it.
He did not have a Dark Mark on his left forearm.
Tonks breathed a sigh of relief. She really did not want to have to arrest him.
"I think," she said slowly as he continued fanning the smoke, "that Dumbledore has rarely been wrong about anything that has ever had anything to do with You-Know-Who. His followers…maybe…but rarely him. I think that if Dumbledore says he's back, he has a legitimate reason to believe it and we should all, at the very least, be very, very nervous."
"Will you excuse me for half a moment?" Remus was already out of the room.
She watched him go and sighed wistfully to herself.
She definitely had a very large soft spot for Remus Lupin. He was easily the most considerate shag she had ever had, and was also a decent, well-spoken man.
Padfoot placed his head on her knee. She stroked him behind his ears.
"I like him a lot, you know," she whispered to the dog.
He wagged his tail.
"Right," said Remus, coming back into the kitchen, "Sorry I left that in too long. But I bet we can scrape the burned bits off and it will still taste all right."
"Thanks so much for inviting me over. My foot really feels better."
"I put wormwood in the water. That should have helped it."
"It's barely throbbing," said Tonks, gratefully.
"Good." He served her some lasagna. It was only really burned on the surface. "I'd leave that to cool for a few minutes," he suggested.
"Thanks," she smiled, "What about you. Do you think he could be back?"
Remus paused. "Yes. I do. I taught Harry for a year and he is not in any way mentally unstable. He does not want any form of attention, unlike how he was portrayed in The Prophet last week, and if he says he saw Voldemort come back and fought him, I believe he's telling the truth. And if Dumbledore agrees with him, I think that it is definitely the truth."
She nodded. Padfoot barked.
"That's what Shacklebolt was saying the other day. I mean…he doesn't know Potter, but he said that you couldn't take anything Rita Skeeter said to heart, and that she was probably just looking for a new angle. He thinks that the worst thing that could possibly happen is if You-Know-Who is back and Black gets back to him."
"Calm down, Padfoot," ordered Remus.
"It would be horrible if You-Know-Who got his right hand man back. What the hell is that?" Tonks shot back in her chair, slopping water everywhere. A huge silvery thing had appeared and was looking at Remus. Then it spoke with Dumbledore's voice.
"If you think you can do it on your own, go right ahead. I am in my office if you need me."
"That," said Remus, "is how the Order of the Phoenix communicates."
She stared at him.
"That would be a patronus?"
"I'll explain later. Look, I think—and Dumbledore agrees—that if you were at all interested, you would make an excellent Order member."
"If it's worth anything, Moony, I agree as well," came a voice.
Tonks jerked her head around and yelled, reaching for her wand. It wasn't there.
"You are looking for this, and I'll give it back when I have explained," said Remus, calmly, "Sirius, that was preemptive."
"I'm hungry. I want my lasagna, thank you very much. It was supposed to be for me, until you invited her over," complained Sirius.
"Well, help yourself."
"What is he doing here," said Tonks, very loudly.
"Well, I was going to mention him later, but since he has decided to undercut my authority, I'll get to him first.
"Sirius Black is innocent of all the crimes of which he has ever been accused by a court of law. Everything he has been accused of was actually performed by another wizard, a wizard more cunning than we could have believed this time fifteen years ago."
"And this wizard would be…"
"Peter Pettigrew," said Sirius, sitting down at the table with a large plate of lasagna. He began shoveling food into his mouth.
Tonks began to laugh incredulously.
"Peter Pettigrew? You can't honestly expect me to believe…I mean…he's dead. He killed him," she said, gesturing to Sirius.
"If only wishing made it so," said Sirius, bitterly.
"Sirius, that is revolting. Kindly finish chewing before speaking in the future. Sirius certainly intended to kill Peter. But, unfortunately, he failed. If he had succeeded, Voldemort would not be back."
"So Pettigrew brought You-Know-Who back?" Tonks was having trouble believing that.
"He did, yes. He also killed Cedric Diggory in the graveyard in Little Hangleton a little over a week ago."
"Where is the proof for that?" demanded Tonks.
"Unfortunately, we can't produce any," said Sirius, sheepishly.
"Well, I can't just take your word for that. I mean, I'm an Auror. There's a ten-thousand galleon price on your head because you killed thirteen people and no evidence besides your word that you are innocent, and frankly…that's not good enough for me. I know what Blacks are like."
"Really? You know what Blacks are like? When did you last encounter a Black who was not your mother, Nymphadora Tonks. I believe, unless I am very much mistaken, that it was me. And as for proof, ask your mum three questions about me. Before I 'turned traitor' what did I think of loyalty, hanging around people more intelligent or good-looking than myself, and any kind of muggle or muggle-born persecution. Then, ask her, based on her knowledge of Peter Pettigrew, what he felt about those same things."
"That won't prove anything," began Tonks. God she was tired. She had had enough of this before she had gotten home and now it was continuing? Where is the proof that Dumbledore is right? It is merely consistent with his testimony from the last time around. There is no evidence to the contrary. Why couldn't people just produce hard proof and make her life easy. Like when Remus hadn't had the—
"Show me your left forearm," she commanded.
"What? Oh! Good point that." Sirius rolled up his sleeve. His arm was pale, and scarred, but not tattooed.
"Right…" she said.
"Look, Dumbledore believes me," began Sirius, "as does Harry and his best mates. The Weasley family, Professors McGonagall and Snape—"
"Well, he still hates me more than anyone alive, I reckon, but he knows I didn't do it, and that Pettigrew is alive. I am, and always have been, a proud member of the Order of the Phoenix, because—rather like yourself, I imagine—I think it is the best way to balance out the dastardly deeds that the rest of my inbred and idiotic family thinks are appropriate for the average wizard. As far as I know, your mum and I are the only living Blacks who have been blasted off the family tree in my mother's sitting room and, frankly, I am quite proud of that."
"I thought you said you were loyal," said Tonks.
"I am, but I never said I was loyal to my family, did I? I hated pretty much all of them. Anyway, this is going in circles. Either you believe the evidence before you in the form of my forearm, or you are going to go turn me in, under which circumstances, I must away, Remus."
"Well, if you are to go away, at least go to the…place."
"Yeah. Even though I would rather drop dead than go there."
"I'm not going to turn you in," said Tonks quietly.
"Good, because I really want to finish this lasagna. When did you learn to cook, Moony?"
"About ten years ago when I was unemployed for over a year and had to pass the time somehow."
"It's delicious. Granted, I haven't had a decent meal in about…oh…since Harry's first birthday."
"Anyway," Remus turned back to Tonks, "As a member of the Order of the Phoenix, you would be on the front lines when it comes to fighting Voldemort and his Death Eaters. And, as an Auror, the information you learned from the Order could flow over into your work, and vice-versa. Any means of stopping Voldemort, especially before he gets a firm hold on his new body and his restored powers, are necessary and, indeed, encouraged."
"You mean, bring any strange things I hear at work to the Order? Isn't that rather like spying?"
"Well, so long as the ministry isn't helping Dumbledore, it is hard for us to find out all we need to. We need people in the Ministry, simply because we know that Voldemort has people there, and we can't for half a moment know less than we absolutely can. We have several Order members here and there, but an Auror who is currently employed—that would be fantastic," said Remus.
"Also," added Sirius, "if you could sound out people who might not rat you out and try to induct them...that would be nice."
"You mean like Shacklebolt, who thinks Fudge is one of the biggest morons ever?"
"Well, Shacklebolt for several reasons," said Remus, smiling, but not elaborating. It didn't really need elaboration.
"How often are meetings?" asked Tonks, after a moment.
"Twice, three times a week? As many times as necessary, really," said Sirius.
"Dumbledore will be in touch with you about that. We can't say," said Remus.
"Indeed," said Sirius, "put in place this afternoon, I believe."
Tonks sat still. She looked between the two tired looking men. Both looked old before their time. Sirius' eyes were completely blank. Remus looked tired, but the subtle defeat she remembered in his eyes so well was no longer there. He looked happy, triumphant even. She smiled to herself. He looked even better when he was happy. He looked energetic, younger.
She smiled and began to eat her lasagna. It wasn't as though her life had been boring before now. At the very least, if she was a member of the Order, she might, finally, be able to do her job.
Chapter 3: Implications
"Don't you have a home of your own?"
"I do. And I would love to see it again sometime. But you are incapable of feeding yourself and would subsist solely on firewhisky if given the opportunity, so I am here to make sure that you don't succumb to the alcohol poisoning that has been looming in your future ever since we took our first shot together in third year."
"Good lord, Moony. I am a grown man. I know how to drink without killing myself, thank you very much."
"I beg to differ, given that the last time I left you to your own devices, I found you asleep next to Buckbeak wearing naught but your skivvies. I really don't want to have to clean you up again, so, if it's all the same to you, I'll kip in the room that Harry and Ron just vacated."
"You are worse than my mother."
"Because I don't leave you alone? Yes, probably."
"You really aren't going to leave me alone, are you."
"Do you want to be alone?"
"Yes, I do."
"Then go upstairs and go to sleep. I always find that that is the best way to be alone."
"Except when your upstairs neighbor is having sex very loudly."
"Oh, shut up. I knew I shouldn't have told you about that."
"I find the irony of the situation quite enjoyable, personally."
"The irony of what situation?"
"Of all the Marauders to have a hot young thing with a libido living upstairs, it is Moony the Monk."
"Get that leer of your face right now, Sirius. That's your cousin you are talking about."
"Yeah. I suppose that would make most people cringe away from the subject, but I am—"
"A Black? A bastard? A nincompoop?"
"I was going to say drunk, but all three of those work quite nicely."
"Oh, shut up, Sirius."
"She likes you, you know."
"You like her, you know."
"So? Why don't you two just get over it and get together? I see no problem with it. You could do with some hanky-panky, Remus."
"Never refer to sex as 'hanky-panky' ever again."
"When was the last time?"
"About a year ago."
"Really? That recently? With whom?"
"You're just pulling my chain now."
"Huh. Who would have…"
"Get that smirk off your face, Sirius."
"Was it good?"
"I am not answering that question!"
"So it was bad?"
"There really is no way I can just end this conversation, is there?"
"Nope. Sorry. You should have read the fine print when you signed the friendship contract."
"You are a truly vile creature, at times."
"And if I weren't worried about your life, I would storm out of this room."
"You are taking advantage of this situation to amuse yourself, aren't you?"
"However did you guess?"
"I loathe you."
"Well? Did you enjoy yourself, Moony?"
"Is this a question you really want to know the answer to?"
"Good point. I should really learn to think things through when I am drunk."
"Sirius, this is something I have been trying to tell you for years now."
"You should know I only ever commit to doing something if I have a drunken epiphany, Moony. Come now."
"Tonks! How lovely to see you! Pity I am off to bed. Night Moony. See you on the morrow."
"Has he been annoying you?"
"Anything that he can get his mangy paws on, really."
"I see. Friends are like that."
"He's usually not that bad. But when he drinks, he starts acting like my great-aunt Phyllis, and it can be tiring."
"My mum does the exact same thing…although I don't know what your great-aunt Phyllis is like…"
"A drunken Sirius. Listen, there's something I've been wanting to talk about."
"Well, I've been thinking…basically…well…we live right next to each other, and we are both quite busy…but maybe it might be good if…no, I'm phrasing this wrong…you live right above me, and you probably don't have a lot of….no, that's wrong."
"Yes. I accept."
"Oh. Good then. But I should warn you, sometimes the shower doesn't work properly and one of the rooms is locked magically for—"
"Hang on. What are you talking about?"
"What has that got to do with this?"
"Well…I was offering….to let you stay there? So you wouldn't have to pay exorbitant rent to your fascist landlord? I mean, I spend most of my time here, because Sirius needs someone to watch him at all times because he is a cross between a toddler, an angsty teenager and a suicidal maniac."
"Oh. That's what you were on about. That's very kind of you. Thank you."
"What did you think I was on about?"
"Well…I…I thought you were…asking me out."
"But it's fine. I guess I just kind of jumped the gun. That's all."
"I didn't mean to mislead you or anything."
"It's not a big deal. Don't worry about it."
"Do you want to go out with me?"
"What? Yes…I do…very much."
"Even though I am old, poor, shabby and spend far too much time with my best friend?"
"Despite all that. Yes."
"And a werewolf?"
"I can deal, I think. Auror training has its benefits."
"Good. Promise me something, though."
"If this doesn't work out…for any reason…you should feel free to stay at my apartment. I'm not using it right now, and you really shouldn't have to pay rent to Dovegrove. He's a complete arse and you shouldn't support him. If you feel uncomfortable with that, I suppose you could pay rent or…"
"This is a great way to start off a relationship, don't you think? In the event that we break up, how much do you think is appropriate for you to pay for rent, Tonks? Honestly. Let's play it by ear a little, shall we?"
"All right, but—"
"If we break up amicably, I will stay in your apartment. If we don't I will probably want to be well shut of you, all right? As I say, play it by ear."
"If you say so. Also, if we are going out, must I call you Tonks? It seems…impersonal…"
"If you call me Nymphadora, I may kill you, even if you are my boyfriend. My parents call me Dora. I guess you could call me that."
"Dora. It's nice."
"Yeah. It's better than Nymphadora, that's for sure."
"It fits just as well as Tonks."
"I rather agree. I think I am going to head home. I have a long day ahead of me if I am going to be moving house, even if it is just downstairs."
"Oh, and Remus?"
"I wouldn't count on breaking up with me anytime soon. You are too good a shag to let go easily."
Chapter 4: Lingering Scents
She curled up closer to her blankets and inhaled deeply. It used to be, on nights that they couldn't spent together, that she would do this and a warm feeling would trickle from her nose to somewhere in her belly and she would be happy.
Now, she felt like crying.
This bed was all too familiar, and yet she hadn't slept in it in years. For the past year, she had been at Remus' place, and the two years before that, she had been just above it. Now, she was home, because she couldn't bring herself to stay there—not now.
He had said he wasn't good enough for her.
He had said he was too old for her.
He wasn't that much older.
He had said that he was a werewolf.
She was well aware of that fact. She remembered locking him away in that room just off the kitchen once (or perhaps twice) a month for the past nine-odd months.
He had said that it couldn't work anymore.
He had reminded her of her promise to stay in the apartment.
She hadn't had the heart to tell him that she couldn't stay there. She somehow doubted he had any expectations that she would.
Now, her blankets didn't smell of Remus—not even a little.
They smelled of Todd, Andy, Christian, but not Remus.
It hadn't taken very much to move, really. Not very much at all. She had had to put her clothes and posters and books and records in a box or two, and then brought the boxes back. Most everything in that apartment belonged to him.
She wondered if he would be reminded of her on the rare nights he would be home. She wondered if his blankets would smell like her. She wondered if it would make him happy or sad, bitter or relieved or resentful.
She wondered many things, and nothing at all.
It hadn't hurt this badly when she had split with Andy—who had been her first love, and her first lover. The pain had endured, that was for sure, but she had still managed to change her hair to iron black, make her skin pasty pale and somehow show that she was heartbroken.
She hadn't tried transfiguring her hair recently, because she knew it wouldn't work. She was stuck with boring mouse brown and the very shade of it made her sad because it was so close to the shade of his hair, although his had been flecked with grey.
And her patronus! It had been a chameleon (appropriately enough) and now it was a large, furry, four-pawed creature that looked very much like the werewolf she longed to smell in her blankets.
Maybe she would go back tomorrow, and see if she could steal some sheets.
But no. They were not hers. And if she went back, she might be tempted to stay.
Or perhaps to sit and cry and mope until she couldn't bear it any longer.
But she couldn't bear it now. And, for the third time that evening, tears leaked out of her eyes. The first time, it had been at dinner and her parents had sent shocked looks at one another and her mother had made clucking noises. The second time had been when she had been taking a bath and she had overheard her mother saying "I always thought Remus Lupin was a gentlemen when I saw him when he was a kid. But right now, I would very much like to give him a piece of my mind," and her father saying "Dromeda, he had his reasons…"
She wondered if he missed her too.
He did, and terribly so. She was all he could think of. But unlike her, he had something to remind him of her smell. He had the jumper she had taken to wearing last Christmas. He was wearing it, now. It and the smell of her.
Chapter 5: A Modest Proposal
He woke up to the sounds of London in the early morning. Normally, he would groan and turn back over in bed but today, for some reason, he didn't. It was as if the birds were singing in his ears and he could not, for the life of him, place why.
Then he remembered.
You got laid! cackled the Sirius in the back of his head who had been silent since the real Sirius had fallen through the veil last spring.
Let him relish it, will you? said James.
Yes, he thought, smiling to himself. He reached over next to him, to run his fingers over Dora's smooth skin but she wasn't there.
He opened his eyes a smidge, and saw the blankets on the left side of the bed had been thrown back. He wondered where she could be. Then, the door creaked open.
"Are you awake yet?"
He wanted to say yes, but it sounded more like a strangled "ymf."
Dora laughed. How he had missed that laugh! Every tiny thing about it! He missed how it could be low and throaty, or high and shrieky, depending on her mood. He missed how easily it fell from her lips. He missed the glimmer of happiness in her eyes that it accompanied— eyes that were usually blue, but not always.
"I made breakfast." He looked over at her. Sometime during the night—or perhaps yesterday, he couldn't really remember—her hair had returned to it's violent shade of bubble-gum pink.
"So that's where you got to."
"I couldn't sleep. You've been out for nearly twenty-four hours, you know."
"I gathered as much, when I heard the sounds of morning London. I don't suppose you made any coffee, did you?"
"Of course I did. But you can't have any."
"You had really better be teasing."
"And if I'm not?"
"I may have to rethink our agreement of last night."
"You were unconscious last night, so I don't think we made an agreement then…"
"You know damn well what I mean."
She handed him a mug filled with coffee and he drank deeply.
"I've forgotten how grouchy you can be in the morning."
We haven't, said Sirius.
SHUT UP! Remus roared at him (internally, of course).
"I'm not even that grouchy right now," smiled Remus, benignly.
"Could have fooled me."
"I didn't say I wasn't grouchy at all. But on the scale of not-grouchy-at-all to get-out-of-my-way, the highest I could possibly be right now is mildly-grouchy."
"I feel as though you are mocking me."
"Just a little."
She leaned down and kissed him. "I've missed you."
"You've said that a lot, recently."
"That's where you were supposed to say, I've missed you too, darling."
"Was it? I couldn't tell."
"Oh, shut up."
"I have missed you more than you can possibly realize."
"Good. That was what you were supposed to do."
It felt good, bantering with her. Granted, it always had felt good bantering with her.
They spent much of those early hours bantering, kissing and being happy about their reestablished love. It was better than thinking about reality.
Snape had killed Dumbledore.
He didn't particularly feel like thinking about it, because every time he did, the James and Sirius in the back of his head went on the rampage. It was much easier to think about how the smile he was looking at fit so perfectly into the heart-shaped face.
"It's nearly ten," said Dora at last.
"Mmm," he replied.
"We should be heading over… for the funeral…"
"Yes," he murmured. Climbing out of his bed for the first time in well over twenty-four hours, Remus pulled open his closet, trying to find something appropriate to wear to the funeral of the only man who had trusted him without ever meeting him.
It was strange, he thought as he and Dora disapparated into Hogsmeade and walked to the castle gates, and the grounds beyond them. Strange how one person can change your life so utterly. He could think of five such people, and three were dead, one was dead to him—if not actually deceased—and one was holding his hand.
Dumbledore had given him so much: trust, an education, friends, respect, a job, hope…the list went on and on and on. Dumbledore had given him the four other people who had changed his life: James, whose easy laugh and caringly mischievous demeanor had prompted the adventures of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs; Peter, who had been his confidant for so long…until he had disappeared and betrayed friendship for cowardice; Sirius who had reminded it what it was like to have friends who cared about him without worrying about his condition; and Dora, sweet, loving, caring, Dora, with whom he would undoubtedly never had gotten together if she had not been in the Order. He would probably have awoken to the sounds of her having very loud sex upstairs instead of the pleasant sounds of early-morning London. He would not have liked that one tiny little bit.
He didn't cry, listening to the eulogy, although he felt Dora shaking next to him, her grip on his hand vice-like. He listened, very detached, glancing around at the others present. Harry wasn't listening (he looked just like James when James wasn't listening), Hermione was blatantly sobbing, holding Ron's hand; Hagrid periodically blew his nose into his great, spotted handkerchief; Minerva was pale, and looked as though she had already cried too much to be crying now. Aberforth looked stony. He saw Umbridge near the front and did his best to look away. He didn't want her to know he was there. It would cause problems. And while she might miss him—a generic wizard in black robes with a somber expression—he doubted very much that she would miss the electric pink hair of the head leaning on his shoulder.
He looked back over at Harry, who was sitting next to Ginny. From behind, they looked very much like Lily and James. He suppressed a laugh.
What are you laughing at, young Remus? Do you find the situation amusing? demanded James' voice.
Yeah, what's your problem with Harry having a blatant oedipal complex? There isn't anything wrong with that. It's touching, if anything, said Sirius.
Will you prats leave Harry alone, please? He doesn't like Ginny just because she's ginger—which is more than I can say about James liking me, snapped Lily.
When the body had been encased in white marble, when the people all around stood and stretched and began to move slowly away, when Scrimgeour cornered Harry by the lake, Tonks turned to him and said, "Shall we?"
He nodded and turned away from the tomb. She slipped an arm around his waist, and, after a moment's hesitation, he placed his arm over her shoulder and they strode down towards the gates again. Kingsley nodded at them. Molly and Arthur smiled and gestured them over. "If you both want to come over for dinner tonight," Molly began, "we can discuss this summer and getting Harry away from his aunt and uncle's house." Her eyes were very shrewd as she watched them both.
Remus glanced down at Tonks. Normally, he would never say no to Molly's spectacular cooking. Normally, he would be all for planning what would undoubtedly be a dangerous, crucial event. Normally, he would be glad of the Weasleys' company. But tonight…he didn't know…
"Thanks Molly," said Dora, "I'm not sure what we will be doing, but if we swing by, we swing by."
"Of course, dears." Remus wished that Molly's expression wasn't so…knowing. He could tell that she was fully aware of what they would be up to, should they not appear at her house that evening. He was reminded strongly of James' rant about his mother making hints about Lily being around for Easter during seventh year.
They continued their way across the grounds. As they passed through the gates, Tonks burst out laughing.
"What?" he asked.
"You could just see the disapproval rolling off her when I said that, couldn't you. Ugh, I should have said we had made plans to have a romantic dinner or something."
"I'm not entirely sure she would have approved of that one either. I mean, we all know where romantic dinners lead…"
"It's because I'm a bloody girl, you know? She doesn't care at all what Bill or Charlie get up to with their girlfriends."
"I would argue that she cares a great deal about what Bill gets up to with his fiancée, but I think that is more because she dislikes Fleur than anything else…"
"Only now she likes Fleur because she refused to give Bill up, so I bet she doesn't care anymore."
"God. Who needs a mother when you can have Molly Weasley?"
"You say that like it's a bad thing."
"Oh, I appreciate it. A great deal, actually. But…ugh…you know what I mean."
Remus laughed again. "Maybe we should drop in briefly…"
"Except you know what she will do? She will say, Oh, Remus, how hungry you look after your months and months living on rats and mushrooms with the werewolves. Let me feed you twelve servings so that you will be so full all you want to do when you get home is sleep, and that is not something I particularly want."
"Are you implying that you only want me for sex?" teased Remus.
"You got me. Your werewolf skills are more than any woman would dream of giving up, I can tell you that," she said, winking. He kissed her.
"We could drop in and fake some kind of emergency," he suggested, kissing her again.
"We left the gas on."
Tonks snorted. "Yeah. She'll believe that. Sorry, Molly. It is highly likely that our apartment will burst in to flames if we don't go and…erm…put out the fire, if you know what I mean."
"Hmm…I suppose not. What about stopping in for breakfast tomorrow and making some excuse?"
"She'd see right through that. She would know that no matter what we said, it would be cover up for us shagging the night away."
"Not if it was good. So sorry, Molly, Andromeda insisted that we sample her new recipe for…for…"
"Risotto, and we couldn't get out of it. We know that you wanted to talk about Harry and all…but my selfish mother… No, Remus, I don't think that one would work for the sole reason that my mum doesn't cook."
"Your dad then."
"Out of the country."
"All right. There was a band playing at a pub that you really wanted to listen to."
"Who says that I'm the one who wants to go off and listen to dodgy pub music when we have an invitation to a nice wholesome dinner with Molly Weasley, hmm? And besides, remember what I said about her seeing clean through our excuses? Seeing a band in a pub? Honestly…"
"Nothing that I, a well trained Auror with an Outstanding in NEWT potions, wouldn't be able to handle."
"There is no need to needle my potion-making abilities," grumbled Remus.
"So sorry, dear. I just couldn't resist."
"I bet you could have…"
"Probably, but I didn't feel so inclined."
"I can tell."
"We promised a neighbor we would babysit," she said, drawing him back to what both deemed was a more important topic of conversation.
"We were ambushed by Death Eaters and only just got away."
"We found an adorable stray puppy whom we couldn't resist and brought it home and cuddled all night."
"All of your ex-boyfriends came by, demanding sex, and I had to duel them all off to save your honor."
"I rather like that one."
"I think we can do better."
"Probably. And I don't feel like dragging them into it. Poor dears wouldn't know what hit them if they had to deal with your wrath and Molly's disapproval all in one. No one deserves that."
"You had a brother we never knew existed, so we took him out for coffee."
"We got married."
He didn't know what made him say it.
She looked at him, not sure if he had been joking or not. They stared at each other for about a minute before she spoke.
"I'm having trouble reading your mind. Care to elaborate on what prompted that one."
"Forget it. I was just…it's nothing…I just…"
"Did you mention that only to be an excuse, or because you meant it?"
BECAUSE YOU MEANT IT, YOU DAFT FOOL! shrieked Lily.
Remus didn't say anything.
"I suppose I meant it…" he mumbled.
That's not how you are supposed to do it, said James.
Like you'd know, growled Lily.
Hey! I know plenty!
Smooth, man, said Sirius, and even though it was a product of his own imagination, Remus was unclear whether head-Sirius was talking to him, or to head-James.
"I like it," she said. She leaned in and kissed him very slowly. Pulling away, she added, "But just so we are clear, just to provide a legitimate excuse to Molly as to why we are standing her up."
He laughed nervously, and kissed her again.
"Because marrying you," she kissed him again, "would be both a pleasure, an honor, and all that, but most importantly, it is an excellent way to get Molly off our backs. Honestly, she's been trying to get us together for…what…two years ago? Give or take?"
He nodded. He kissed her again.
"Shall we?" he whispered.
Chapter 6: Homecoming
He disapparated the moment he slammed the door shut. He wasn't entirely sure where he was going, and realized so in mid-journey. It would be excellent, he thought, if the way that Harry was taken by the Ministry was if the same Ministry had to piece his splinched body back together. But he arrived on Tottenham Court Road without a problem.
Well, not entirely without a problem. He was furious. Utterly furious, and he was sure that the muggles walking briskly down the street, should they chance a glance at his face, would see it there. The same it that he had let slip through to Harry when Harry had dared—when Harry had….
So, Harry thought he wanted to fill Sirius' shoes, eh? Thought that he was betraying his family, eh?
The word rang through ears and rattled around somewhere just below his jaw, circling its way up to the tip of his skull. There was no escaping it. It had been said, and now it was going to fester.
What was cowardly about trying to protect those you loved? What was cowardly about doing your best to stop the man who was making all your efforts not only useless, but scorned, who made your presence in this world hated. Surely there wasn't anything cowardly in that?
And it's not as though he didn't love her. Oh, he loved her, more than anyone could possibly understand. He loved her more than he had ever loved anyone, or anything, she was all that was great and good in his life, all that made him not want to curl up in the fetal position under his bed and whimper at the idea that Dumbledore was gone and Voldemort was out there, slowly killing off people who meant something to him—and many people who didn't.
He wondered for half a moment where his feet were taking him. He wondered if it were safe for him to just be wandering around London like this, with Death Eaters on the loose and the Ministry fallen. But he felt reckless tonight. Indeed, trying to fill Sirius' shoes. He laughed bitterly to himself. No…he was being more reckless than Sirius ever had been right now.
He wondered if he had explained himself fully, but didn't want to go back and try again. Surely Harry must understand what it would be like to put loved ones in danger simply by continuing to associate with them. Surely that was why Harry was not staying with the Order, why Harry, Ron and Hermione had severed ties as much as possible with their families. How could Harry not see that this was exactly the same thing, that he couldn't put Dora and the—his—child in danger like that.
Harry was right.
He was a coward.
A coward with good intentions, though. Surely, being cowardly out of love was better than being cowardly to protect oneself, and oneself alone. But there he was, doing it again. Could he not just face the fact that he was, and maybe always had been, a coward?
He thought of Sirius, wanting desperately to hear him say you aren't that bad, Remus. You never betrayed your friends… but Sirius was oddly quiet, and he knew why. Leaving his family behind was as bad as betraying his friends.
In your case, it is, said Sirius.
Thanks, Sirius, he replied. He couldn't tell if his tone was dry, or sarcastic, or…cowardly.
You are only a coward if you choose to be, Remus, said James. We agree with Harry. You've heard the opposing side. Now decide what to do.
He hated that he had to choose. He hated that the decision was no longer an obvious one. He hated that he was forced to reflect inwardly now, to see what he was doing and to hate himself for it.
He hated that he saw clearly.
But summoning up the courage to act, to go back was something different.
He pounded up and down streets, as if the streets of London offered some strange wisdom that could rise up through his feet and offer him some piece of advice. He didn't know how long he walked. He breathed in the night air, and looked up at the crescent moon, the waxing moon.
How to go about it. And how to define "it" for that matter. Was it penitence? Redemption?
Grovel. He could grovel. No…not manly enough—or perhaps just what is necessary. He'd come back to that choice later.
Apologize. Apt, does the trick, but won't quite cover what he felt.
He could lie. No. Too cowardly.
Tell the truth, accompanied by a long discussion of his feelings. Bad idea. She was in a delicate state. He wouldn't want to upset her.
But before he could decide, before he could even revisit the options he had come up with, he found himself standing in front of his—their—flat. He remembered vividly their first meeting at the Leaky Cauldron, he remembered hearing her in the morning with her beaux, he remembered her smile and her laugh and what it felt like to come home to someone. He took a deep breath and opened the door, wondering what it would be like to come home to no one again.
The Quibbler, for all it was a very strange medium, was rather interesting. Articles about how to protect oneself from Death Eaters sitting right next to articles about how to tend to the Brace Mites that live in cabbages, or how to ward of Nargles. It was, for lack of a better description, a very colorful magazine.
It was also serving its purpose quite well. She didn't know when he would get there, she just knew that he would, at some point, make his way home.
Sure, she had promised him that she would stay with her parents until he got back. But he had also promised that he would be back soon—something that she doubted very much after what had happened at Bill and Fleur's wedding.
She had seen how on edge he had been during their interrogation. She had seen how ashamed he had been when the "ministry" worker had asked about their relationship.
"He's my husband," she had said defiantly, holding Remus' hand very tightly.
"A werewolf?" he had demanded.
And that was it. That tiny little moment had been all that was needed to drive an already nervous, scared, self-isolating Remus over the edge of reason and into full-on panic mode. She had seen what she had been scared to see since she married him in his eyes. He was going to leave again.
Well, two could play at that game.
He would leave. And he would come here. Where else could he go? He wouldn't go back underground unless it was asked of him, and so she would know. The Order would tell her.
She flipped a page and began to fill out a circular crossword puzzle.
The door opened and she looked up.
There he was. He looked stunned to see her there.
"Well, it's about bloody time. I was starting to get really worried about you," she said, folding up the magazine.
"But…but…" he stammered, still staring.
"There's some soup on the stove, if you like."
He stood, frozen in the doorframe.
When the shock slowly began to dissipate, it was replaced by anger.
"What are you doing here?"
"I live here, Remus."
"It isn't safe. You said you were going to stay with your parents."
"It's about as safe here as it is wandering about London without telling anyone your location."
"That's completely different?"
"I'm not pregnant."
"No, you are not. But honestly, I am a big girl, Remus, who knows some big girl hexes. I got Jugson and Wilson who were watching our front stoop, which is why you didn't see them. Bat Bogey Hex and a Confundus Charm. Not too bad, if I do say so myself."
He looked like he wanted to keep arguing for a moment, but couldn't find it in himself.
"You are an ass, you know," she said.
"Yes, I know."
"You were just going to leave me there."
"You're an ass. I love you, but you are an ass."
He sagged against the door and looked away. "I was just trying to do what was best. I was trying to—"
"Oh, do be quiet. I get it, you know. I'm not a complete idiot. I know it is hard for you. I know you haven't had anyone you've ever had to worry about this much. I get it, all right? It's not as if I don't know you very, very well by now. But if you do it again, I may just throttle you."
"Now, will you come over here and kiss me already?"
He closed the door at last, and went over to her chair. He leaned down and kissed her very tenderly.
It really was coming home.
Chapter 7: Goodnight, My Love
"I don't see how you can think he looks like me."
"He looks surly. That's a good enough reason for me."
"He is less than four hours old! How on earth can you think he looks surly? He looks red and crinkly to me."
"I'm deliriously tired. I can think whatever I damn well please."
"You know, I think he looks like you?"
"Oh yeah? What makes you say that?"
"Oh, you know, the turquoise hair…"
"That has nothing to do with looks and everything to do with talent. He is as talented as me. But it is impossible for him to look like me."
"Well…since I can change my appearance, he will never have the opportunity."
"That is what I believe most people call cheating, dear Nymphadora."
"Don't call me Nymphadora."
"You are my wife, the mother of my child—"
"And so you had better not call me Nymphadora. I will hex you."
"Your wand is twelve feet away and you don't have the strength to get up and fetch it. I feel pretty safe, Nymphadora."
"Do you want another child? Because I believe I am close enough to do something about that…"
"Ha. Ha. Ha. But threat received, Tonks."
"Your mum is completely over the moon."
"Yes. She never thought she was going to have a grandkid."
"Nope. She was convinced I would never bag a man and would end my days alone with several thousand cats."
"It's so lovely to find out when your parents believe in you."
"Yes. She was nicely surprised when I told her we had gotten married."
"As I recall she dropped the tea tray and hugged me and spent hours telling me how glad she was that I was a part of her family."
"You know, since I am the one reminiscing, it would be nice if you would let me fantasize for a moment. Just because my mum obsessed over you and practically ignored me doesn't mean I have to remember it that way."
"Of course not. Carry on, dearest."
"I've lost my train of thought."
"You are rather tired. Are you sure you don't want to go to sleep."
"I am determined not to fall asleep until it is dark outside."
"There are times when I don't understand you. This is one of those times."
"Yeah, well…I want to try and maintain my circadian rhythm."
"You do realize you are so exhausted that you will probably sleep till about noon tomorrow?"
"Hush up, you great spoil-sport! That is utterly irrelevant. It's the principle of the thing."
"All right. But I refer you to my previous statement about not understanding you."
"I've been thinking…"
"Where will we put him?"
"The baby, you fool."
"Your mum is setting things up for him in the guest room."
"Not here. I meant at home. At our apartment. We don't have a guest room for him, and the spare room is where you go on full moons."
"I could clear out James' old room…I suppose…"
"You mean the room that both of us use as an office?"
"You are seeing the flaw in the plan, aren't you…"
"Yes. I am. I think we need a bigger place."
"Couldn't we magic in an extra room?"
"As a member of Ministry Law Enforcement—"
"When it isn't being run by You-Know-Who…"
"Yes, well, I know that you aren't allowed to add in rooms to muggle buildings. Leads to some sticky situations. I've been thinking that we should rent it out and stay here while we look for a bigger place. Keep mum company. She's been really down since…well…"
"Yeah. We'll talk about it more later. In the meantime, let's sit here and look at our beautiful son. Isn't he beautiful. I think he's beautiful."
"Your attempts to distract me from the subject at hand are not appreciated, Remus."
"Why on earth not? It's a beautiful, bouncing, blue-haired, baby boy, and if you can't appreciate the alliteration of that phrase, there is something seriously wrong with you…"
"Alliteration noted, and it is an impressive one."
"Almost as impressive as this fine figure of a man, I would say."
"He is quite beautiful. His crinkly red skin brings out the blue of his hair so very nicely."
"I love you, you know?"
"And I you. You really should sleep. You are turning this rather unpleasant gray color."
"I've been doing that on purpose, trying to figure out how long it would take you to notice."
"Well ha ha ha, very funny and all that, but you should sleep."
"Sweet dreams, Dora."
"Are you leaving me again?"
"I'm off to tell Bill. I told him I would let him know if anything momentous happened, and I think this qualifies as momentous."
"I'll be home soon, but you will be asleep, so you won't be aware of it."
"Goodnight, my love."