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Missing Moments by Paloma Patil

Format: Novella
Chapters: 15
Word Count: 36,383
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Scenes of a Sexual Nature

Genres: Humor, Romance, Angst
Characters: Lupin, Sirius, Moody, Tonks, Arthur, Bill, Molly, Fleur
Pairings: Remus/Tonks

First Published: 09/15/2005
Last Chapter: 05/10/2007
Last Updated: 08/19/2009

Summary:











A little Remus and Tonks fic that fills in some of the missing moments from OOTP and HBP. Over 75,000 reads! (Since the publication of The Deathly Hallows, this story has officially become AU.  Please read and enjoy anyway.)


Chapter 1: The First Meeting
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Missing Moments

Remus is attending his first meeting of the Order of the Phoenix in 14 years. But what is that distracting tingling at the back of his neck? And who is that adorable pink-haired creature? (This is my attempt to fill-in some missing moments from the lives of Lupin and Tonks. None of it is mine. Thank you to JKR.)

Chapter One - "The First Meeting"

Remus Lupin sat at the kitchen table at the Burrow nursing a large cup of tea, to which Sirius had added an equally large measure of Firewhiskey from a flask when Molly Weasley wasn’t looking. He suspected that they needn’t worry about being covert. Molly was strict in some senses, but under the circumstances she would see the need for people to calm their nerves. It was almost too much to imagine, that Voldemort was back.

The surviving members of the Order of the Phoenix were arriving in fits and starts, and there seemed to be a few new people as well. This made Sirius nervous, although Lupin felt that anyone who had gained Dumbledore’s trust deserved his own. That, unfortunately, even included Severus Snape, who was now arriving and taking a place at the far side of the table, sneering at the former Marauders and refusing Molly’s offer of tea and biscuits. Mad-Eye was there, as well as a young black man he knew to be Kingsley Shacklebolt, from the Ministry. Hestia Jones had arrived, as had Emmeline Vance. A whiff told him that Mundungus Fletcher was around, although he had yet to see him. After a fashion, Bill Weasley came down the stairs from his room, and gripped Lupin’s hand warmly. Lupin looked around the table, taking note of the others. He heard thud and a bit of muffled cursing from the hallway, but could not ascertain who it was. One of the kids, he supposed. He took a sip from his tea, and suddenly felt a distinct tingling on the back of his neck. He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his head, a little wearily. He noticed it again a few moments later. It was not unpleasant, but the slight tickle was distracting, and he needed to be focused for this meeting. He rubbed his neck, and his attention went to Dumbledore, who had just arrived and seated himself at the head of the table.


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Nymphadora Tonks had been surprised when Mad-Eye had invited her to “a little gathering at the Weasleys’” that night. Cripes! She had been a little worried that the old codger was asking her on a date, but was relieved to discover the true nature of the evening. Dumbledore had shown great faith in her by including her as one of the few new members of the Order of the Phoenix, and she hoped that her morphing skills could be put to good use in the fight against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Arriving at the Burrow in flaming pink hair and tattered jeans, she managed to trip over a broomstick in the front hall, and muttered “bollocks!” under her breath. She didn’t think she had made too much noise, and made her way to the kitchen. She stopped, as quietly as she could, in the threshold, and looked around. There were many familiar faces. She was surprised and impressed to see Kingsley there, as he was obviously as fed up with the Ministry as she was. Molly, Arthur, and Bill (cute as ever) were there. There were a few witches she didn’t recognize, and a couple of wizards with their backs to her. One had black hair and tattoos – her usual type. The other was thin and had sandy brown hair, streaked with grey. He was wearing a black wooly jumper with patches on the elbows, and she noticed that his hands, wrapped around a mug of tea, seemed to have a tremendous number of scars. It surprised her that she was much more drawn to those hands than to the owner of the black hair and tattoos, and she watched them for quite some time. She was dying to see the owner of those hands, and she stared at the back of his head for what seemed like ages, trying to will him to turn around. It didn’t work, although those hands now seemed to be rubbing the back of that neck. Lovely. She was interrupted by Molly, who was motioning for her to take a seat at the back of the room as Dumbledore began to speak.

“Hello, old friends and new. It is sad that we have to meet again under such…strained circumstances,” he began. “As you know, we are now aware that Voldemort has returned, and as such, our services are required once again to secure our world. You are all here because you share our desire to defeat the evil that surrounds us, and your specific talents and abilities are an asset. As we are all here, I now reconvene The Order of the Phoenix.”

There were many things that had to be discussed during the meeting. Tonks was surprised to hear of Harry Potter’s involvement, although she seemed to be the only one. The others nodded as Dumbledore spoke of Harry’s experience at the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and the Ministry’s refusal to accept that Voldemort had returned. Dumbledore also suggested the need for a safer place to gather, as the Burrow was meant to be only a temporary meeting place. Black hair and tattoos spoke up.

“You’re welcome to number Twelve, if you want it.” That voice. It sounded familiar to Tonks, although she couldn’t place it.

“Thank you. That might just work,” was Dumbledore’s response, and with that, the meeting was called to a close.

The members of the newly-formed Order of the Phoenix milled about the kitchen and sitting room, chatting in hushed tones and making introductions where necessary. Tonks noticed Ginny Weasley sitting on the stairs, and beckoned her down.

“Wotcher, Sweetie!” she called. “How’ve you been?!” They chatted for a while, and Tonks noticed that Ginny seemed to know an awful lot about what was going on. “Harry’s a friend,” she explained. Tonks understood, and changed the subject. “By the way”, she continued, “Who are those two cuties standing by the fire?” They still had their backs to Ginny and Tonks, but Ginny seemed recognize them anyway.

“Well, the one with the fair hair is Remus Lupin.” Before she could continue, Tonks let out a loud snort of a laugh. “Remus Lupin!” she shrieked. It took her a moment to catch her breath. “Merlin, that can’t be right! Who with the surname Lupin would name a child Remus? Crikey, that’s hysterical! It must be an alias, or a pseudonym, or…” Tonks stage-whispered, conspiratorially, “…or a Porn Name!!” Ginny clapped her hand over her mouth, because at that very moment, Professor Lupin had strolled up to Tonks and seemed about to introduce himself. He blushed a bit, and laughed. His dark-haired companion roared.

At this sound, Tonks was startled and managed to trip over her own feet, nearly falling into a heap. She was stopped by a pair of strong, pale, scarred hands that gripped her arm and put her to rights. She looked up and was stunned by the warmest pair of grey eyes she had ever seen. She was at a loss for words.

She stared for a moment, before mumbling a nearly inaudible “Hey”. She lowered her eyes, breathed deeply, and then managed to regain some composure. “Oh – thank you. Tripped a little. You surprised me.”

“Merlin, Tonks, you surprised us!” The other, dark haired man spoke. “Please allow me to introduce Remus Lupin, Porn Star!” Both Tonks and Lupin blushed as they shook hands. Ginny escaped to the kitchen, mortified. Tonks turned to the other man, who was slapping his knees and laughing like a madman.

“Do I know you?” she asked.

“I’m hurt. You don’t remember me? After all those Sugar Bombs I used to sneak to you when your mother wasn’t looking? I seem to remember bringing you a little pair of ferret slippers that you were partial to, and…” Before he could finish, Tonks threw her arms around him.

“Sirius!! My god, it’s been so long! My mother always said you were innocent! How did you…?” Sirius attempted to detach the pink blur from around his neck, and gave up. He explained the story of his escape and subsequent exoneration as best he could, and was rewarded for his efforts with kisses on his cheeks and more than a few tears. When she finally pulled away, he smiled and introduced her to his handsome friend.

“And this, Professor Lupin, is my little cousin…Nymphadora Tonks.”

Now it was Lupin’s turn to laugh. “And you thought my name was…unusual. Goodness. I’m not sure that I’ve met a Nymphadora before. It suits you, though.”

Tonks looked nonplussed. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, call me Tonks. Everyone does. I’ve managed to nearly maim the last few people who called me Nymphadora.”

“I’ll try to remember”, was Remus’s response. “Am I to understand that you are an Auror?” Tonks nodded. “Well, that’s impressive, especially for someone so young.”

Tonks smiled at him. “I’m not that young. Heavens, I’m 25! I’m a metamorphmagus, though, so I’m able to keep myself looking young and cute! Haha!” The awkwardness of their meeting seemed to pass, and soon they were chatting like old friends. Remus was impressed by her intelligence, and the ability she seemed to have to make people feel at ease.

The conversation continued, with Sirius and Tonks trying to catch up on 10 years of their lives. Eventually, he asked Tonks about her love life. “I may have given up,” was her reply. “The last time I went out on a Saturday night was six months ago. The creep showed me a photo of his mother, and told me it would ‘really do it for him’ if I transformed into her. Horrible.” Sirius seemed to think this was quite funny, but Lupin looked a little more sympathetic. He seemed to have a quiet dignity about him, and Tonks was surprised that she found it so attractive.

Mad-Eye sidled up to them and began to talk with Sirius.

Lupin pulled Tonks aside. “Listen – you and I are actually meant to work together. Harry needs to be brought safely from his home in Surrey, and Dumbledore wanted us to run the mission. We should probably meet to make some plans.” Tonks thought a moment. “What about tomorrow night?” she asked.

“Ah – tomorrow night I’m busy. The night after?”

Busy. She finally realized that she should scan for a wedding ring. None. She presumed he had a girlfriend, though. It would be unlikely that someone so lovely wouldn’t. He wanted to see her the night after, however. A Saturday night? Did he realize? “Sounds good. I’ll owl you. I was thinking-”, but she stopped when she noticed Moody behind her.

“Mad-Eye, if you don’t stop staring at my thong, you’re going to regret it.”

“I’m trying, Tonks. I can’t seem to look away.” Tonks began to walk out of the room, and Moody reached out to slap his hands on the backs of Lupin and Sirius. “Crikey, lads, it’s a new world,” he laughed. Tonks couldn’t resist looking over her shoulder, and before she could catch herself, she had winked at Lupin. Then she rolled her eyes, and strolled out of the Burrow and into the night.

Remus seemed to discover the source of his earlier sensation. He ran his hands through his hair, and then rubbed the back of his neck, which continued to tingle until a certain lovely, pink-haired young woman disapparated out of sight.




(If you have time to review, some constructive criticism would be much appreciated. Thank you! Paloma)

Chapter 2: Saturday Night
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Missing Moments


A sweet meeting between Lupin and Tonks. He has something serious to tell her, and is more than a little surprised by her reaction. Is there something in the air? (It all belongs to JKR, bless her - I'm just playing in her yard.)
I have a feeling that this is exactly how Tonks would react to the news of Remus's "Furry Little Problem". It's also my favorite. What do you think? Please R&R. Thank you!!


Chapter Two – “Saturday Night”


Saturday night, Tonks sat in a rather dark, candle-lit coffee shop in Diagon Alley. She had chosen a somewhat subdued look for the evening, in a black sweater and slacks, her hair done in a simple but shiny black bob. She ordered sweet tea and a sticky bun, and waited, drumming her red nails on the table, for Remus Lupin.

She didn’t have to wait long. He entered the shop a few minutes later, and she resisted the urge to wave to him. She was interested to see whether he would recognize her in her changed state. He did, almost immediately, and crossed the shop to the little table at the back where she sat.

“Good evening, Nymphadora”, he said, taking his seat across from her. “I almost didn’t know you without your pink hair,” he whispered, smiling.

“I thought I’d go with something a little less conspicuous,” she answered, “and for Merlin’s sake, call me Tonks.” He chuckled a little and turned to the waitress.

She watched Remus while he ordered. He looked rather exhausted, and the scars on his face and hands seemed almost exaggerated in the candlelight. He was dressed simply, in a threadbare green jumper and grey trousers, and Tonks noted, as she had before, the air of quiet dignity about him. He was…gentlemanly, she decided. Crikey, when was the last time she had spent an evening with a gentleman? Had she ever? She was torn from these reflections when Remus spoke to her.

“Before we get started, there is something you ought to know about me.” Remus looked serious, nervous almost. He sighed, and tried to avoid her studious gaze. He forced the words out. “There will be times when I will not be able to help the Order…times when I will be… ‘out of commission’, if you will…” his voice trailed off.

Tonks grabbed his hand immediately, and looked at him with worried eyes. “Are you sick, Remus? I thought you looked a little unwell tonight. Is there anything I can do?” Lupin took a deep breath and let it out. Tonks was absentmindedly rubbing the scars on the back of his hand with her thumb. He hated to tell her, knowing that she was bound to pull away, and even likely to run out of the shop. He paused, enjoying this tiny bit of human contact that would soon be long gone. Then he continued, in a whisper. “Nymphadora, I’m a werewolf."

If Tonks felt any shock at this, it didn’t register on her face. Lupin noticed, sadly, that she had stopped rubbing the back of his hand, but was quite surprised that she was still holding it. After a moment, she placed her other hand on top of his, and was now quite deliberately tracing the scars there. He was stunned by the sensation. No one had ever reacted this way to the news of his condition. No woman had ever wanted to touch him after learning of his lycanthropy. Baffled, he sat in silence for what seemed like ages. Then, Tonks looked up from his hands, and let out a chuckle. A chuckle? What!?

“Well, that explains it. And to think, I was worried that you couldn’t see me last night because you had a hot date!”

Did she actually seem relieved? Lupin sat, staring agog at the now-giggling Tonks. She was worried? That he had a date? On the night of the full moon? This suddenly struck Lupin as tremendously funny, and he threw his head back, letting out a deep, throaty laugh.

Tonks guessed, correctly, that he had never so much as smiled at this stage in his “werewolf spiel” before, and was quite pleased with herself. She felt a little sad that he had pulled his hand away, although he seemed to need it as it was now pounding on the table as he chortled and tried to catch his breath. She was really enjoying seeing him laugh. The world-weariness in his face had disappeared, and had been replaced by a mischievous glint his eye that made him look ten years younger. About her age. And beautiful. Merlin, this man was beautiful. He finally calmed himself, and was looking at her with both tenderness and admiration in his eyes. She held his look for a few seconds, before something occurred to her.

“The potion,” she said, quietly. “The development of the Wolfsbane Potion. It must make it a little easier to live with him.”

“Him?”

“The wolf.”

“Ah, yes.” Remus couldn’t help but notice her choice of words. She understood. Understood that the wolf was something separate, a part of him, but not a choice he made. He couldn’t help but feel a little sad that this very sweet, very bright, bloody adorable woman was so much younger than he was. It was so seldom that anyone understood. Pulling himself from this reverie, he continued. “There is still pain, and the transformations are still exhausting. However, knowing that I won’t hurt anyone while I am transformed has changed me. It’s given me life, Tonks. Being able to control him, as you say, has allowed me to be me.” Even as he said it, he realized that he had never expressed those feelings before. Had he even thought them?

“I understand,” was her simple reply. They continued to chat, Tonks telling him funny stories from her Auror training as well as disastrous tales from her love life. He told her equally amusing tales from his days as a Marauder, and they passed an hour before realizing that they had yet to deal with the business of the evening. Remus finally spoke of the mission.

“So, Miss Tonks, how are we going to get that boy safely to London?” They spoke, in hushed tones, for about half an hour, discussing the preparations for Harry’s “rescue”. They tossed ideas back and forth, trying to come to some consensus. Lupin thought Mad-Eye would be an important member of the team, while Tonks countered that his paranoia would drive them insane in the planning stages of the mission. She eventually acquiesced, as she was reminded that Mad-Eye’s propensity to suspect everyone and everything was probably a good thing, under the circumstances. They then plotted their route, with Tonks drawing elaborate plans on a napkin. Lupin deferred to her on these points, figuring that her Auror training would give her a superior understanding of the logistics of such a mission. Tonks couldn’t help but be chuffed that this older, clearly brilliant man seemed to respect her mind and her skills. She hoped that the low light concealed how much she was blushing. It didn’t.

After more than two hours, their plans were finalized and they left the shop. Tonks decided to walk home to her flat, telling Remus that after sitting for so long she was quite sure her bum had fallen asleep. He gave her a little laugh and shook his head, and then fell into step beside her. His long, slow strides seemed to match her short quick ones perfectly, and after much too short a time, she was at her gate. She turned to face him.

“Well, thank you, Remus, for the best Saturday night I’ve had in…” her voice trailed a little. He expected her to say “six months”, as it had been that long since her last date.

“…in years”, she finished, and then stood on her tiptoes, put her hand on his chest, and kissed his cheek. She turned quickly and bounded up the stairs to her flat.

“Goodnight, Nymphadora.”

It didn’t occur to her to correct him.




(If you could manage a quick review, it would be much appreciated. Thank you! Paloma)




Chapter 3: Wandless Magic
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Missing Moments

A storm, a bottle of whiskey and a request - can Remus teach Tonks how to perform wandless magic?
Takes place in the Fall of OOTP, with our favorite metamorphmagus and werewolf getting to know one another. None of it's mine - my love and thanks go out to JKR.

Chapter Three – Wandless Magic

The autumn wind howled outside of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. Remus Lupin loved nights like this, sitting by the fire, waiting out the storm in warmth and comfort. Sirius Black, on the other hand, was finding it more than a little frustrating to be cooped up in the house all the time, and the sounds of the storm acted as a reminder that he couldn’t go out. And so it was that they both were in the sitting room, one smiling passively as he read a book, and the other pacing, rather violently, occasionally screeching at the wind to shut the hell up.

They both wished she’d come. She was a breath of fresh air in that old house, and evenings in her presence passed quickly. For Sirius, she brought news of the outside world and funny stories of the moronic bureaucracy of the Ministry. It meant a great deal to him to have a family member in the house, as well – it seemed to make him feel connected to the world, again. Remus Lupin had a harder time articulating why he enjoyed her visits. True, her affect on Sirius was palpable, and Sirius, in high spirits, was a joy to be around. It wasn’t just that, though. Remus couldn’t remember when he’d had such ease of conversation with a woman. She was chatty and funny and genuinely interested in what he had to say. It didn’t hurt that she was bloody cute, either, and her wild, woodsy scent remained in the house for hours after she left. Yes, Remus thought – if Nymphadora came tonight, this evening would be just about perfect.

Remus had been fighting the feeling that he was turning into a lecherous old git as regarded Miss Tonks. He reasoned that it was only natural for two crazy old men to enjoy the company of a pretty young woman. It was akin to the cute little candy-stripers visiting the Retirement Home, he reckoned. He had only managed to half-convince himself that this was the truth, though. Despite the age difference, despite the difference in nature, he couldn’t help but be very drawn to Nymphadora, and she appeared to have something of a schoolgirl’s crush for him as well. No harm, he thought, and it was damned flattering.

He was jerked from his thoughts by the sound of what appeared to be a massive branch, slamming into the sitting room window.

________________________________________________

Nymphadora Tonks wasn’t entirely sure why she had chosen to go out in the storm to see the fellas. True, she’d picked up some sweets for Sirius at Honeydukes and wanted to deliver them sooner rather than later. Years in Azkaban had left her cousin with the palate of a five-year-old, as though he somehow wished to re-live his childhood. She tried to bring him an assortment of Chocolate Frogs, Fizzing Whizbees and Every Flavor Beans with every visit. However, it wasn’t as though the candy was going to go bad.

It wasn’t as though she was afraid of lightning, either. She wished she could pretend to be, as it would be a good reason to leave her flat and be comforted by her friends. She was no actress, though, and the boys weren’t likely to buy the ‘damsel in distress’ bit for a second.

The truth was that she didn’t feel like being alone, and no gale-force wind or blinding rain was going to keep her from Grimmauld Place tonight. Did that make her seem desperate? She couldn’t decide whether she cared. She looked in the window of the sitting room, trying to get the attention of the former Marauders. Ringing the doorbell was out of the question, since the portrait of Sirius’ mother was bound to scream like mad if disturbed at this hour. No, she’d knock on the window. She reached out, attempting to be dainty, and was pushed by a gust of wind flat against the pane. Remus looked up, and it seemed to take a moment for him to register that the blob obstructing the view of the garden was a girl.

“Tonks!” he yelled out to her.

“Open the bloody window!” she screamed back. Remus and Sirius managed to jimmy the window open about a foot. Tonks was small enough to slide through, but not graceful enough to do it without falling, spread-eagle and soaking, on the sitting room floor. Sirius chuckled.

“You sure do know how to make an entrance, Miss Nymphadora.”

In a flash, she’d whipped out her wand, whispered “Proboscius”, and made her cousin’s nose grow to twelve times its normal size. “I’m in no mood, Padfoot. Don’t call me Nymphadora.” He promised not to, and she put him to rights. Then she grabbed a hand offered by Remus, and stood up.

“Wotcher, Moony! Lovely weather we’re having!”

“Nymph-” he caught himself. “Ah…Tonks. Look at you! You must be mad coming out in this weather. You’re drenched!” He brought her close to the fire, pulled her robes over her head and cast a drying charm on the clothes underneath. Too bad, really – wet t-shirts weren’t a regular occurrence at good old Number Twelve. “Don’t be a lech, don’t be a lech” he reminded himself. Meanwhile, Sirius brought a bottle of Firewhiskey and three glasses from the press. In no time they were situated on the couch, half-cut, telling stories and enjoying the sounds of the storm outside.


By eleven o’clock they had finished the bottle, with Sirius out-drinking the others three to one. As a result, he was quite hammered, while Remus and Tonks were only pleasantly warmed. Sirius, drunk, was an experience all to itself. It wasn’t the mooning that troubled them, nor was it the French kissing (although his attacks on both his cousin and his male best friend did seem strange). No, it was the singing that signaled that Sirius needed to go. Once he began screeching, in an off-key twang reminiscent of a wart-hog in heat, his friends decided it was bed time. They pushed him up the stairs, to the tune of “Oh yes it’s lady’s night, and the feelin’s right, oh yes it’s lady’s night, oh what a night…” and some improvised disco-dancing that nearly landed him on his arse. They managed to get him to his room, and Tonks stripped him to his undershirt and boxers while Remus nodded to the hearth, creating a blazing fire. They tucked him in and left him singing something about a car wash, whatever that was. Then they went back downstairs.

“It’s really impressive, you know,” Tonks began as she curled her legs under her on the couch.

“What is?” asked Remus, returning his book to a large oak shelf near the window and then sitting in a chair opposite her.

“The fire – upstairs. I’d heard you could do wandless magic, but I’d never seen it. It takes most wizards years to learn that. How did you manage to learn so quickly?”

Remus looked surprised. “I didn’t. It did take years. Consider it the result of a misspent youth. I was alone a lot, and it seemed like a good use of my time.” He tried not to sound bitter, but failed miserably. Tonks chose not to notice this.

“Dumbledore has suggested that I learn to do it,” she said. “He says it’s an important skill for a member of the Order, but I’m guessing he just knows that I manage to sit on my wand and break it at least once a month. I’d love to be able to do it, but I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

“I could get you started, Tonks,” Remus offered. He got up and chose an enormous book off the shelf.

“Hippocrates’ Anatomy of Wizards?” Tonks seemed surprised. “What do you want me to do with this? Break my wand with it?!”

“Nope. You have to read it. All of it. You see, most witches and wizards take their powers for granted, without knowing where the magic comes from. However, if you want to perform wandless magic, you have to learn what physically distinguishes you from the average muggle or squib. You have to find the source of that magical energy, in order to control it. A wand without a wizard is just a piece of wood. The magical core helps to channel your energy, but the magic comes from you. With focus and time, the wand becomes nothing more than an unnecessary convenience. You’ll see.”

Tonks considered this for a moment. Then she sighed, heaved the book onto her lap, and began reading.

__________________________________________________

It was no surprise to Remus that Tonks had been a good student at Hogwarts. She impressed him every day with her study of anatomy. She often dropped by in the evenings with questions that arose from her reading, and occasionally popped into the fire when she only had a few minutes to clarify a point of magic in the book. She seemed to have no trouble with the antiquated language, and actually seemed to enjoy it.

It was no surprise to Tonks that Remus was a good teacher. Harry had mentioned before that the Professor had been their favorite at Hogwarts, and the standard to which all other teachers were held. He seemed to know everything, but wasn’t boastful. He listened carefully to her questions, providing responses that were filled with wisdom and experience, while still sounding quite humble. It took three weeks for Tonks to read the entire book, and she had taken 75 pages of notes, written on blazing orange paper. Most of the notes began with “Remus says…” or “Moony explains this by saying…” He had taught her a great deal.

They were sitting discussing the book one night, when it occurred to Remus that it was time for Tonks to give wandless magic a try.

“I’m not ready, though. All I’ve done is read a book. A beast of a book, mind you, but still…” Remus cut her off, and stood up.

“Tonks, you have to start somewhere. We’ll try something quite simple. A conjuring charm should suit our purposes. Come here.” She stood and joined him in the centre of the room, shivering a little in a sleeveless t-shirt.

“Close your eyes.” She did. “Now, focus your mind on the energy that flows around you. You know it’s there, Nymphadora. You can feel it.” He moved behind her, but continued to speak in hushed tones into her ear. “There is an energy that surrounds you, an aura. That is the source of your magic. You need to channel it, to control it. Can you feel it?”

“Yes.”

Remus let his right hand hover from her shoulder down to her fingers, close to, but not touching her arm. Still, she could feel his warmth on her, and it was distracting. Plus, the scent of soap, or aftershave, or wool, or musk, or…something was driving her quite mad. She was losing focus, and she really wanted to succeed.

“You need to go away,” she whispered. Remus seemed startled, and backed off a little. “Go sit, Moony,” she ordered. “You smell too bloody good – it’s distracting. I can’t focus. Go over there.” She motioned to the couch, and he obeyed, blushing a little.

He watched her now, with her eyes closed, controlling her breathing and trying to focus. She really was the prettiest little thing. Today she had lavender hair, in curls, and behind those closed lids, her eyes matched. It was funny that someone whose looks changed so regularly could be so steady in other aspects of her life. She worked hard and was much more sensible than she may have appeared at first glance. Watching her now, attempting something that had taken him years to try, he couldn’t help but be impressed with her.

Tonks had found her centre, and could feel the source of energy. She controlled the flow down her right arm, and after a few moments, she pointed her hand at the coffee table. She opened her eyes, muttered a conjuring incantation, and waited.

There, on the table, formed a bar of Honeydukes chocolate.

Tonks seemed a little taken aback that she had actually done it, and it didn’t fully register until Remus jumped from the couch, grabbed her, and swung her around.

“I knew you could do it, Nymphadora! That’s amazing! I’m so proud of you!” He put her down, and she staggered a little. It was all too much. The wandless magic was draining, but the hug from Remus left her reeling. She shuffled to the couch, sat down, and finally smiled. No, beamed.

“Now,” Remus said, “you just have to learn to do that for every spell and incantation you know.”

“But that will take forever!” Tonks cried. Remus just laughed. He knew she’d do it – she was a determined sort of girl.

“Never mind that now,” Remus said as he patted her on the arm. “Let’s celebrate.” He grabbed the bar of chocolate, unwrapped it and broke it in half. He offered her a piece, held out his own, and they clinked them together as though they were champagne glasses.

“Cheers!” Tonks said.

“Sláinte,” Remus responded, toasting in Irish.

They sat in silence on the couch, with Remus reading and Tonks absentmindedly rubbing the back of her neck, which had been tingling. Neither could recall ever enjoying a more pleasant evening.




(What do you think? I'd be much obliged if you could leave a quick review. Thank you very much.)



Chapter 4: Christmas
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Missing Moments It's Christmas at Grimmauld Place, with all of the folks from home. Our beloved metamorphmagus seems to be missing, though...or is she? Thanks JKR - I've been having fun playing with these characters. 

Chapter Four – 

Christmas Christmas Eve at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place was surprisingly pleasant. Remus Lupin had spent many Christmases alone over the years, and even a few in his wolf state. As compared to that, this drafty, dusty old house was a welcome change. There were children everywhere – mostly of the redheaded Weasley variety, although Hermione and Harry were there as well. He was so pleased to see Harry smiling – being with Sirius brought out he best in him, and made him feel like he had a family again. Remus felt a twinge of jealousy at Sirius’ relationship with the boy. He would have been thrilled to be a father-figure in Harry’s life, but he knew that in a strange way, Sirius needed Harry as much as Harry needed him. 

At the moment, Sirius, Harry and Ginny were decorating a giant tree in the sitting room. There were a few little fairies and enchanted candles offering a soft light, and the three were now attaching various little globes and bows. Every few minutes they would come across a Christmas ball that blew up in their hands, shouted festive obscenities or turned to stone the second it was placed on a branch, nearly toppling the tree. These were courtesy of Fred and George, who roared laughing at the success of their inventions. Ginny was clearly annoyed, but Harry and Sirius seemed genuinely amused by the occasional surprises. The tree fell twice, onto a cluster of very disgruntled fairies, whose glowing lights changed from softest pink to a fierce, angry red. The result was quite stunning, Remus decided. 

Once the tree was up, Sirius unveiled a giant punchbowl on the press that was filled with eggnog. He offered a cup to Remus, who accepted it thankfully. After a sip, however, Remus doubled-over and appeared to be choking. 

“What’s…in…this?” he sputtered. 

“Napoleon Brandy…and Firewhiskey…and, oh, I don’t know, eggs or something. Ginny added cinnamon, I think.” Sirius took a rather large swig from his own cup, and didn’t even flinch. Surprisingly, Molly did the same. The others were politely nursing theirs. Arthur, only recently back from St. Mungo's, tried to subtly throw his in the fire when no one was looking. Unfortunately, the vast concentration of alcohol caused the flames to rise about 5 feet, drawing attention to his actions and singeing the stockings that were hanging there . Ron managed to sneak a cup and was determined to drink it. He turned green after about two sips, however, and had to run off to the bathroom. When he returned, Hermione shot him a disapproving look, but then crossed the room to join him on the sofa. Remus chuckled a little. He wondered if those two would ever figure out how they felt about each other. Young love…it was very cute to watch. 

Within an hour, Sirius was very drunk, and was singing Christmas carols, badly, at the top of his lungs. Then he began kissing every man, woman and child within reach. Molly blushed when he dipped and kissed her, and Arthur chuckled and patted him on the head when he did the same to him. Ron appeared to be nervous, and declared that it was bed time at about 10:15. The rest of the children followed him upstairs. Harry waited until the others were gone, and then gave Sirius a long hug. Then he bounded up the stairs after his friends. 

Remus caught Sirius’ eyes, which were brimming with tears. He clapped him on the shoulder and said, forcefully “Merry Christmas, Padfoot.” 

Sirius sniffed, and shook Remus’ hand. “Merry Christmas, Moony. Bloody hell…it’s a good day.” It had been a good day. Only one thing was missing. Tonks. She was spending Christmas with her folks. Sirius had asked her to come to number Twelve, but she said that her father would be heartbroken to spend the holidays without her. Remus wasn’t ungrateful. This was easily his best Christmas in years, but having Tonks there would have made it perfect. He had to admit that to himself. At about midnight the adults turned in. Remus made his way to his room, on the second floor. It was very simply furnished, but was easily the cleanest room in the house. He rivaled Molly for tidiness. He summoned Kreacher, and sent him off to deliver presents to the various rooms in the house. Then he changed into pyjamas, crawled into bed, and drifted into a dreamless sleep. 

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He awakened early the next morning, showered quickly and quietly, and dressed. Molly had pressed his black trousers and white shirt, which looked decent for Christmas day. He managed to find a pair of socks with no holes in them, and was quite pleased with himself. It was only 5:30. No one else would be awake for hours, he reckoned, so he sat at his desk and began reading. 

He was startled, moments later, to hear footsteps on the stairs. He reached for his wand, and made his way stealthily to his door. Then he heard a soft thud and a hushed “bollocks!”, and breathed a sigh of relief. 

He opened his door. “Tonks! Crikey, you’re going to wake the whole house! Get in here!” 

He pulled her into his room and shut the door. 

“Wotcher, Moony! Happy Christmas!” she whispered to him. She was in a large black overcoat, and had not yet morphed herself for the day. He took a moment to appreciate her dark hair and unadorned features. Then something occurred to him. 

“How did you get in?” he asked. 

“Well, you know, I hadn’t thought that far ahead when I left Mom and Dad’s place. As it turned out, no one had locked any of the doors. That’s pretty dangerous, Moony. How drunk were you last night, anyway?” 

“Not too bad. A little hung over this morning, mind you.” 

“What did you drink?” “Sirius’ eggnog”. 

Tonks winced appreciatively. “I had Daddy’s hot buttered rum, so I’m in no better shape myself,” she added. There was a bit of uncomfortable silence. Remus didn’t quite know what to say or do with the pretty girl who had appeared in his room. 

“So…Tonks…what brings you here?” He attempted to sound calm. 

“Oh.” She blushed a little, placing a small bag on his bed. “Well, I didn’t have time to bring my presents by yesterday, so I thought I’d drop them off. My plan was to get in and get out unseen – what are the odds, eh? Actually, I did want to give you yours in person, though, so it’s good that you’re up.” 

Remus smiled a little. “I have something for you as well.” He went to his closet, and hauled out an elaborately wrapped box with a massive bow around it. She looked at it quizzically. “The girl in the shop wrapped it,” he offered, by way of explanation. She grabbed it, but before she could open it, he stopped her. 

“Now listen, Tonks. I saw this and thought that you would like it. I DON’T think that you’re a child, so please don’t be insulted. It just seemed like something you would want.” He held his breath as she tore open the paper. He hoped that she liked it. She had mentioned once that she had a fondness for muggle toys, and that her mother didn’t let her have them as a child. He’d seen this in a little shop in London, and felt she had to have it. He’d spent a little more than he should have on it, too, and was now feeling like a bit of a fool. What if she thought it was ridiculous? Tonks finally made her way through the layers of paper and ribbon, to expose the present beneath. It was a large, pink Barbie camper van with dolls and a picnic table and millions of other little accessories. She stared at it for a second. Remus was terrified. He didn’t need to be. Tonks began jumping up and down, and knocked over a chair. She was squealing, and Remus had to remind her again not to awaken the whole house. 

“I have ALWAYS wanted this! How did you know?!” she asked, grinning.
 
“Oh – you mentioned it once. I happened to see it in a shop, and I thought of you, and…” He couldn’t finish the sentence, because she had thrown her arms around him, and was still jumping up and down. “Alright, then, Nymphadora. Calm down.” He couldn’t help but enjoy her enthusiasm. 

They stayed quiet for a moment, and then Tonks spoke. “Well, I guess I might as well give you my gift, although it’s a bit of an anti-climax after this” she said, fingering the lines of the camper van as though they were precious. She dug in her bag, and pulled out something small, and unwrapped. She held it behind her back, and said “It’s nothing, really. I hope you like it.” She nervously passed it to him. 

It was a painting. A small, dark watercolour of a full moon. It was really quite lovely. “I painted it myself,” she added, as an explanation. 

“It’s beautiful” Remus said. He was about to say “Thank you” when he noticed something. The perspective in the painting was…familiar. “Tonks – did you paint this from my room?” he asked. 

She blushed a little. “Now Remus, please don’t be mad. You were ‘out of commission’ one night, and I came up and did it. I didn’t touch any of your things, or anything. I just…well, it was a beautiful night, and I knew you’d never be able to appreciate it from here, and I thought…oh…” she was getting quite flustered. She buried her face in her hands, and so was unable to see the smile that was spreading across Remus’ face. 

“Tonks…Nymphadora,” he took her hands down and looked into her now-misty eyes. “It’s the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received. I’ll look at it every night, and think of your kindness. It’s wonderful.” Tonks smiled, and stared at him for just a moment. She seemed to find some confidence deep inside her, and when she spoke again, it was in a commanding tone. 

“Good. I got you something else, too.” 

“You could never top this, Nymphadora – it’s too much.” 

“Oh, don’t worry. This is something that’s for both of us. We can share it.” With that, she took off her large overcoat, to reveal what appeared to be her sleep attire underneath. She had on a tiny white tank top and a pair of boxer shorts with Santa Claus and reindeer all over them. Remus took a step back, looking terrified. “Oh, calm your hormones, handsome. It’s not as though I’ve got my ass wrapped in a bow for you.” He looked relieved. And maybe a touch disappointed, Tonks noted happily. 

She folded down the waistband of her boxers to reveal a tattoo high on her hip. The tattoo was of a rather beautiful wolf. Remus had no words. He just stared. “I’m sure there’s a great story that goes with it, but I’ll be rogered if I can remember it. I was out with the girls. I was very drunk. I woke up with this. I assume I was thinking of you when I had it done. So it’s ours. Yours and mine. We’re the only people who will ever see it, or touch it.” 

That seemed to shock Remus out of his reverie. “T-Touch it?!” he asked, still seeming terrified. 

“Sure – it’s part of your gift, Remus. Of course you get to touch it.” With that, she grabbed his right had, and placed it on her hip. At first he did nothing but continue to stare, but then, slowly, he began tracing the outline of the wolf with his thumb. He bit his lip and caught his breath. The sensation of rough skin on smooth was almost more than either of them could bear. He looked up into her expectant eyes, his thumb still making lazy circles on her hip. His other hand reached for her cheek, and he began to lean towards her. She closed her eyes. He could feel her breathing. She was so close. He closed his eyes, leaned further, and then… 

BANG! They heard a loud crash in the hallway, and jumped apart. Mrs. Black began to scream about HALF-BREEDS! and SCUM!, and Sirius swore violently at her. Then he rapped on Remus’ door and shouted “Happy Christmas, Moony! Time for breakfast! Bugger me, am I ever hung over!” He continued down the stairs, never discovering that Tonks was in the house. The result of the interruption, however, was instant. 

Tonks was blushing furiously, and collected her coat and her present. Remus murmured his thanks, and ushered her out of his room. Tonks did her best to tiptoe down the hall. 

“So close,” she muttered to herself as she clambered down the stairs. Remus sat on his bed and thought longingly of his presents. Then he shook his head, and rubbed the back of his neck distractedly. 

“Too close,” he told himself, and went down to join Sirius in the kitchen. 


(Got time to write a quick review? The constructive criticism would do me good. Thanks! Paloma)

Chapter 5: Chez Tonks
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Missing Moments

It's the morning of the full moon, and Remus and Tonks have a mission to attend to. How will they manage?

Chapter 5

“Chez Tonks”

It was the morning before the full moon. It hadn’t been a good one. Remus Lupin had managed to choke down enough coffee to awaken him, but not enough to render him particularly pleasant. There was a buzzing in his head, as there always was at this time of the month. He felt clumsy and confused and out-of-focus. He needed to summon some energy, some clarity, from somewhere. There was a mission to attend to.

Christmas holidays were over, and Lupin and Tonks had been chosen to escort the kids back to Hogwarts on the Knight Bus. Remus was not looking forward to the trip with baited breath. The cursed bus was stomach-churning enough at the best of times, but today, of all days, it would prove to be a test of strength. Hell – simply traveling with six teenagers would be a test of strength today.

Nymphadora Tonks, seated across from him at the kitchen table at number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, seemed to understand that her friend was having a rough morning. She took extra care not to knock over furniture or break her glass. She even placed her spoon, silently, into the sink, instead of hurling it from across the room and screaming “nothing but net!”, as was her usual practice. She tried not to be hurt that he didn’t seem to notice her heroic efforts. He was grumpy today. That wasn’t something she had seen before, but, in fairness, he had every reason to be. She had grumpy days all the time, and didn’t have anything approaching his excuse.

She cast a sideways glance at Lupin, and couldn't help but smile. She didn't dare let him see her, since he was in no mood for anything friendly or cute. She could only see a glimpse of the man she had nearly kissed just a few weeks ago. The sweet, gentlemanly angel of a man that she had been falling for was being eclipsed by the wolf, and compared to Remus, the wolf was quite rude. He'd been calling her "Tonks" all morning, he yelled at her for rustling the newspaper, and he stopped talking to her entirely when she suggested that he needed to chill out. She tried to suppress a chuckle. The wolf was great.

Tonks had always worried that Remus was a little too perfect, a little too controlled, and that she looked a litte too much like a bufoon in his presence. Knowing that he turned into this cranky bastard once a month leveled the playing field. Yes, she decided - she was very fond of the wolf already. She just couldn't tell him that.

She could hear the kids bounding down the stairs, and saw Lupin wince. Then, somehow, he pasted a smile on his face and wished them a good morning. Oh, he was good. Only someone looking very closely would notice that his brow was furrowed, even as he was exchanging pleasantries with the children. Tonks saw an opportunity to give him some space. She took charge.

“Remus, why don’t you head out front and organize the bags. I’ll herd the kids and get them through their goodbyes.”

“Fine.” He got up and left, abruptly. He was in no state to appreciate the gesture, but Tonks was happy that she had made it, even so.

Both Sirius and Molly were having a hard time saying goodbye. Molly had a constant, nagging concern for her babies, as all mothers do. She hugged and kissed them all, including Harry and Hermione, and left them with warnings not to do anything that would get them hurt, killed or expelled. Sirius tried his best to be strong, but he missed Harry already, and was heartbroken to see him leave. They spent an emotional last few moments together, and then it was nearly time to go. Tonks quickly morphed into a tall, rather stern looking old woman, changed her clothes, and headed out the front door to join Remus.

He looked her up and down and gave a short, harsh laugh. “You look like my mother.”

Tonks tried to be flippant. “Does that ‘do it for you’?” she asked, recalling a conversation from months past.

“Not in the least,” was Lupin’s curt reply.

They stepped out onto the street, away from number Twelve, and it disappeared. Lupin held out his wand, and the Knight Bus pulled to the curb, out of thin air. From there, Tonks took over, dividing the children and sending Lupin to the back of the bus with the twins and Ginny. He was happy enough not to have to make any decisions, and was almost thankful that Tonks seemed to have everything under control. He was even pleased with his share of the “cargo” – the twins were speaking in hushed tones with their heads together, and Ginny was humming softly to herself. His stomach was lurching and his head felt like it was being jackhammered, but Lupin had a moment when he realized that this trip could have been much worse. On any other day he would have expressed his thanks to the metamorphmagus. Today, however, he considered it sufficient not to bite her head off.

In no time, they had reached Hogwarts. They said their goodbyes, with Lupin reminding Harry of the importance of studying Occlumency. He was pleased with himself that he had remembered. His brain was getting fuzzier by the minute. Then the kids were off, and he was left with Tonks on the side of the road.

“I guess I’ll apparate back to Grimmauld Place,” he said, and made to go.

“I don’t think you should,” Tonks told him. “Sirius is probably in rough shape. Leave him be for a few hours.”

“Damn it, Tonks, I’m in rough shape. You may not have realized, but the full moon is tonight.”

Tonks laughed out loud. “Yeah, Remus, I realized. It’s hard not to notice. You’re barely yourself today,” she added. “Listen. Why don’t you come to my place for a cup of tea. Give Sirius a chance to dry his tears or drown his sorrows or something. I’ll have you home by noon, I promise.”

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Lupin felt this was a bad idea. However, he was in no state to make decisions for himself, and Tonks’ logic appeared to make perfect sense. With a heart-jolting CRACK!, he apparated with her to her flat.

She bounded up the stairs and he followed, sluggishly. Part of him felt as though it wasn’t appropriate to be at Tonks’ home at this very moment, and another part of him found the idea exhilarating. Having such conflicting thoughts at once was confusing, and exhausting. He was rubbing his head, roughly, when she threw open the door and announced “Bienvenue à chez Tonks!” in an appallingly stilted French accent. It sounded like nails on a chalkboard to Lupin, but he tried his best not to let that show. Instead, he entered the flat, found a chair not far from the door, and sank into it. As she threw off her robes and tossed them aside, he took in the room.

It wasn’t quite what he was expecting. It was much more simply furnished than he imagined it would be, with just a desk, a few comfortable-looking chairs, a sofa and a coffee table in the sitting room. There were a few rather Tonksish touches, though. The walls, for example, were painted a deep, dark red that he probably would have found sexy on any other day, but today seemed so garish that he had to squint his eyes. She had two reading lamps, the bases of both being made from upside-down mannequin legs in fishnet stockings and stilettos. There was a rather elaborate hookah on the coffee table, which appeared to be filled with Every Flavour Beans. Who the hell uses a hookah as a candy dish? Lupin was shaken from this thought when Tonks called out from her bedroom.

“I’m just getting changed. Can you start the tea?”

Lupin shuffled into the kitchen, muttering to himself and rummaging through the rather disorganized cabinets for tea. He got the kettle boiling, and then went searching for milk. He noticed a number of photos attached to the outside of the icebox, and he stopped to look for a moment. All of the kids were there, as were Molly and Arthur. There was only one of Sirius, taken when he was about twelve, holding a wriggling, chubby baby who was probably Tonks. There were two of Remus himself. One was of him and Tonks on the sofa at number Twelve. He was reading, and Tonks kept trying to get his attention by any means possible. She attempted to tickle him, then poked at him, then eventually she bit him on the shoulder. That startled him enough to look up, and she pointed him to the camera. He was surprised to see himself blushing in the photo. They both gave a quick wave, and then the image repeated itself. In the second photo he didn’t appear to be moving at all. He was sleeping. He must have fallen asleep on the sofa, and she had taken a picture. Strange.

He set the mugs on the coffee table, and Tonks emerged from her room looking much more like herself. She had chosen a rather plain look for the day, with dark hair in a ponytail, jeans and a brown jumper. Lupin was thankful. He loved her pink hair, but today it would have just hurt his eyes. This was much better.

Tonk strolled into the room and hurled herself onto her sofa. She grabbed a mug of tea, and then lay back, with one forearm across her head. She looked exhausted, Remus thought. He took a sip himself. Neither spoke for a few moments. Then Tonks broke the silence.

“Sirius will be in bits today,” she said.

“I imagine so. If I were to wager a guess, I’d say he’ll be shit-faced by noon.” Tonks felt a little start in her stomach. It was so unlike Remus to swear.

“If he’s drunk, he won’t be much help to you tonight.”

“True. I’ll manage. I have before.” Lupin was making no effort to assuage her concern.

Tonks did her best to ignore his harsh tone. “Maybe I should come and see to you tonight,” she suggested.

He considered this for a moment. “See to me? What do you mean?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I guess I could scratch you behind the ears or rub your belly or something. You know…see to you.”

Remus let out his first genuine laugh of the day. He rubbed his eyes with the heels of both hands, pushed his head back and sighed. “Mmmmm. That sounds wonderful…”

Tonks got up and made for her room. “Give me two minutes – I’ll just throw a few things in a bag, and”-

“No, Tonks! Sorry. Sit. I was just…thinking aloud. I don’t want you there tonight. I don’t want you to see me in that state. It…it means a lot to me that you don’t see me as an animal. I don’t want to jeopardize that.” Tonks shook her head. “Remus, I would never…” He stopped her. “Please, Tonks - Nymphadora..." He seemed to struggle to get the words out. "Let me have this. Let me have you thinking I’m a gentleman. It’s important.”

Tonks wasn’t quite ready to give in. “I could howl at the moon with you.” She leaned closer to him, and whispered. “It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve howled at the moon, Remus.”

“I’ll bet.”

“Please?”

“No, Tonks.”

“Fine.”

Remus got up and wandered past the sitting area. He searched for somewhere to set his focus, so that he wouldn’t just be staring at Tonks. There was a large bookshelf against the wall in the kitchen. There, on the centre shelf, in a place of honour, it appeared, was the pink Barbie camper van that he had given her for Christmas. It was rather elaborately set-up, with a canopy and picnic table, a swing set and wee jungle gym. Inside there was a kitchen with little utensils, and a table with a little table cloth and a vase of flowers. Past that, there was a bedroom. Barbie was inside, dressed in a leather corset and heels, brandishing a whip. Her poor, tanned, unfortunate boyfriend was lying, spread-eagle on the floor, in buttless chaps. The bland, moronic grins on their faces struck Remus as awfully funny. Then came genuine laugh number two of the day.

“Tonks, I’m not sure if that’s how the doll is meant to be played with. That poor fellow.” He chuckled to himself, and averted his eyes from Ken’s get-up.

“He was naughty,” Tonks deadpanned. “He needed to be punished.”

“Apparently.”

Part of him thought Tonks was the scariest woman alive, and part of him was more than a little intrigued. He figured he’d better make a hasty exit, before the intrigued part made a fool of the rest of him. He headed for the door.

“I should run, Tonks. If I wait too much longer, I’ll be in no shape to apparate. Thanks for the tea.”

She walked deliberately towards him, and placed her arms around his neck. Her wild, woodsy scent was overwhelming, and he breathed deeply. It was all he could do to stifle the growl that was forming at the back of his throat. She kissed his cheek, and then pulled away.

"Stay safe tonight, Remus."

He went out the door and stood in the threshold, still staring at her, silently.

Tonks leaned one arm against the doorframe, and placed her other hand on her waist. Then she started drumming her long fuschia nails against her hip. Remus’ eyes darted between that hip and her eyes, back and forth a few times. He took a deep breath, willing himself to leave.

“The wolf and I will be thinking of you tonight, Remus.” Tonks continued to drum her nails on her hip. Remus closed his eyes, and could see the tattoo of the wolf staring back at him. Before he could stop himself, he spoke too, allowing his thoughts to seep through the confusion and buzzing and general malaise.

“The wolf and I will be thinking of you, too, Tonks. Trust me.”

He apparated with a resounding CRACK!, and Tonks slowly shut the door to her flat.

So...there were moments when Remus Lupin wasn't a perfect gentleman, after all. Tonks smiled and sighed softly. "Thank god", she murmured to herself, and settled back down on her sofa, lost in her thoughts of her beloved, cranky werewolf.






If you have time for a review, it would be much appreciated! Thank you! Paloma




Chapter 6: Notes and Postcards
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Missing Moments

Remus worries that he hurt Tonks' feelings on the day of the full moon. He writes a note to explain. How will she respond?

This was originally half a chapter, but when I edited I found it worked better on its own. Hopefully its mate, "Birthday Wishes", will follow quickly. Thanks to JKR - this is fun to do.

Chapter Six

“Notes and Postcards”

Remus Lupin awoke with a start on the morning after the full moon. His head was pounding, and his stomach was upset. The “next day” was always the same; not unlike a vicious hangover, with the added bonus of cuts and bruises to heal from. Today was different, though. Today, there was something at the back of his mind that was troubling him as well. He wanted to rest. He wanted to stay in bed, drink coffee, and recover. The vague, nagging thoughts in his head would give him no peace, however.

Had he done something awful while transformed? It was unlikely. He had taken his potion, and still appeared to be locked, alone, in his room at number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. He looked around. The place didn’t seem too much the worse for wear. There were a few scratches in the hardwood floor, which he would buff later in the day. There was a single tear in the curtain – he wasn’t sure if he had done that or not, but he made a note to himself to mend it later. Sirius had removed the bedding, so there was no damage to the room in that sense. So why this awful feeling of foreboding?

He sat up, head in hands, and tried to think. What had he done yesterday? Nothing really. He had taken the kids back to school, and then had gone for tea at Tonks’ flat…

Tonks.

Oh Merlin.

Tonks.

He had a series of fleeting images of himself from the day before – snapping at her at the kitchen table, mumbling angrily on the way up the stairs to her flat, fixing her with a menacing stare in her sitting room, fighting the urge to shag her senseless when she hugged him…oh god. Tonks. Why hadn’t he warned her that he wasn’t quite himself on the day of the full moon? What must she think of him?

He got up, still naked, and made his way, slowly and painfully to his writing desk. He took out a quill, an ink bottle and a little piece of parchment, and began to write.

Dear Nymphadora,

I am so sorry that I treated you poorly yesterday. Please believe me that I would never do so if in full possession of my faculties. Sadly, on the day of the full moon, I am never quite myself. I will be heartbroken if I hurt your feelings in any way. Forgive me.

Yours, with apologies and affection,

Remus


He dressed as quickly as he could manage, and then hurried out the door, silently. Just before he was about to apparate, he noticed a cluster of wildflowers on the edge of the garden. He chose a few tall, purple ones, and held them with his note. Would she recognize them?

He apparated to her flat, placed the note and the flowers outside her door, and quickly disapparated home. He crawled back into bed, and hoped that when he awakened, he would feel a little better.



It was two in the afternoon before he woke up. He was still a little dazed, but felt much more like himself. He stretched, rubbed his shoulder a little, and sat up. There was sunlight streaming into his room from a rift in the curtains, and it fell directly onto his bedside table. There, where nothing had been before, sat a bar of Honeydukes chocolate and a little note. He smiled to himself, and unfurled the parchment. In Tonks’ loopy, hurried scrawl, read the following:

Wotcher, Moony!

Thanks for the lupins – they’re my favorite wildflower. How did you know?

Now listen, I don’t want to hear any more apologies about yesterday. You were fine, and I really enjoyed your visit, because:

a) ironically, the wolf makes you more human
and
b) he’s damned sexy

Yours, with arguments and an ass that won’t quit,

Tonks

(PS – I’m off on another mission with the Missus as a “Cultural Emissary to the North”. Translation – Bodyguarding at a Fat Farm on a Fjord. Wish me luck! I’ll call in as soon as I get home. N.T.)


Remus let out a chuckle. Leave it to Tonks to make him feel better on a day like today. He was sorry to see her go. She had to do these “Cultural Emissary” trips quite regularly. She was a favorite of Mrs. Fudge, the wife of the Minister for Magic, and ended up traveling to various spas around Europe with her often. The Missus was always on some crazy diet or another, and spent a ridiculous amount of Ministry money and resources trying to make herself thin. Tonks resented the work, considering it a poor use of her Auror skills, but she knew that being favored by the Fudge family was good for the Order. She forced herself to grin and bear it, and occasionally rewarded herself for her patience with a fabulous new pair of shoes.

Over the weeks that followed, Remus received, as he always did, a number of newsy, wacky postcards from Nymphadora.

Greetings from Norway! one read, and on it there was a photo of Tonks, tall and blonde, looking like a Scandinavian goddess. She gave a flirty wave, and then stubbed her toe on a chair leg and hopped around the front of the card, apparently cursing. On the back it read “Wotcher, Moony! Going spare here. I’m all watercressed-out, I’ll tell you that. PLUS, the Missus keeps stealing my share of the food, such as it is. You’ll need to feed me when I get back. Hugs. Tonks

On the next one, there was a photo of Tonks and the Missus in their swimsuits, by the pool. Tonks looked pretty damned cute, in a little pink suit and matching hair, but Mrs. Fudge was a little too roly-poly for her string bikini with Union Jacks emblazoned on it. In the photo, Tonks stood back a little from her charge, and made retching motions when the Missus wasn’t looking. On the back it read: Hello, Moony – I will be forever grateful for the care package. You can’t transfigure or conjure a damned bit of food here, and an alarm goes off if you try. Don’t ask me how I know that. I attacked the roast beef and the pumpkin pie, but the Missus sniffed out the chocolate and swiped it. Even so, it was much appreciated. Thinking of you. Tonks.

The last one pictured Tonks and the Missus at a bellydancing class, dressed in some sort of floaty material and performing what appeared to be the Dance of the Seven Veils. If anything, Mrs. Fudge seemed to have gained weight on this trip, and Tonks – well, Tonks looked as though she weighed about 300 pounds. Remus flipped it over to read the back. It read: Dear Moony! Don’t I look awful? The Missus decided that the easiest way to appear thinner was to make me morph into a giant! Beats dieting, I suppose. Oh well – I’ll be home in a few days. Can’t wait to see you. Wish you were here. Tonks.

Remus smiled to himself and placed her note, with the others, in the breast pocket of his jacket. “Wish you were here, too, Nymphadora,” he thought to himself. He hoped she would come to see him soon.




(Did you enjoy this wee little chapter? I'd really appreciate a review, if you could. Thank you!!! Paloma)


Chapter 7: Birthday Wishes
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Missing Moments

Chapter Seven

Remus gets something that he had really wanted for his birthday...a visit from Tonks, finally home from her mission! A bit naughty in places - beware. (JKR has created some excellent characters - I've been enjoying playing with these two)


"Birthday Wishes"


The morning of March 10th was like any other, really. Remus got up, showered and dressed, and made his way down to the kitchen for breakfast. He was surprised to find Sirius already up, the coffee already made, and a hearty fry already on the table.

“Happy Birthday, Moony!”

Remus smiled. His friend had been quite down lately, and he was pleased to see him excited about something. That said, most of his birthdays passed, unnoticed, and had done so for years. It seemed funny to be celebrating getting older, at this stage in the game. “Thanks, Padfoot. Breakfast looks great.”

Sirius flashed him a mischievous grin, and Remus wondered what else was in store for him today.

Most of the day passed without incident, and Remus began to wonder if he had imagined the rather naughty look on his best friend’s face at breakfast. However, at six o’clock there was a rap at the door, which Sirius seemed to be awaiting. He opened it quickly, not wanting the portrait of his mother to hear, and let it a person, so laden-down with presents that it was impossible to determine who it was. Only when the person tripped and the presents scattered through the hall, did Remus realize that it was Tonks. Before he could contain himself, he rushed forward to hug her.

“Welcome home! Merlin, did we miss you, Nymphadora! I’m so pleased to see you.” Tonks had been away on “Ministry business” in Norway, and Remus hadn’t realized how lonely he had been without her. He shot Sirius a look – he had thought that breakfast had been his present. Sirius gave him a playful wink, and nodded back to Tonks.

“Happy Birthday, Moony. It’s good to see you, too. I come bearing gifts. I hope I didn’t destroy any of them!” She shuffled into the sitting room, and Sirius followed her, carrying the packages.

They sat on the sofa. Remus felt like a child, opening gifts while the others watched with glee. There was a chocolate cake from Molly that had managed to survive the fall, and a book on Werewolf Legislation from Dumbledore. Harry and Ron had somehow managed to send an enormous bottle of Firewhiskey. “Let’s crack that open right away, mate,” Sirius suggested. Hermione sent a pair of lumpy, holey olive-drab socks, which he assumed she had knit herself, and Ginny sent a large bar of chocolate. The gift from the twins was astonishing. It was a dart board, with the face of Dolores Umbridge superimposed on it. When the darts hit, she actually screeched and bled a little. Had almost anyone else been on the board, Remus would have thought the gift too cruel. As it was, he and Sirius played with it for half an hour, and Tonks eventually had to stop them from boiling it in oil and throwing it in the fire, just to see what the High Inquisitor would scream next.

Tonks handed Remus a large square package.

“Ah, Nymphadora – you’ve done enough already. Thank you.”

“I hope you like it. I asked the fellow in the shop what would be appropriate for a werewolf in his late hundreds.”

“I’m thirty-eight”, Remus corrected her.

“Same thing. Any-hoo, he didn’t bat and eye, and pointed me to this.” Remus tore at the wrapping and found that Tonks had gotten him a rather lovely collection of big band and jazz albums: Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, Louie Prima, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis, among others. Remus sighed to himself. They were his favorites. She was good with the gifts, wasn’t she?

“Thanks, Tonks – they’re perfect. Come here.” He beckoned to her, and placed a soft, lingering kiss on her cheek. They both blushed before he asked: “Shall I put one on?” He summoned his ancient record player, and the room filled with the sounds of Benny Goodman. Then they ate cake and drank whiskey, with Tonks telling them uproarious stories of her travels with the First Lady of Fat.

After far too many drinks, Sirius begged off, explaining that he ought to bring a piece of cake to Buckbeak. If that seemed strange to Lupin and Tonks, they didn’t acknowledge it. They continued to chat, and sip at their whiskey, for hours, stopping only occasionally to change the record. Ella Fitzgerald’s “Summertime” was now playing, and Remus seemed inspired.

“Dance with me, Nymphadora”, he asked, holding his hand out to her.

“I’m not much of a dancer, Moony.”

“I don’t care. It’s my birthday. Dance with me.” Tonks could have pointed out that it was after midnight, and so no longer his birthday, but she couldn’t resist the opportunity to be close to him. She stood up, smiled shyly at him, and took his hand.

Sometimes you don’t know how drunk you are until you stand. What followed was less like a dance, and more like two people desperately trying to hold each other up. Swaying to the music made Tonks’ head spin, and Remus was little better. She clung to his neck, and rested her head on his chest. She could feel his heart beating wildly. He held her close, and sighed. He wanted her so much, but even in his drunken state he knew it was wrong. He stood back a little, and looked into her eyes. They suddenly both seemed aware of not only of how close they were to one another, but also of the electricity that seemed to flow between them. Neither of them wanted to do anything stupid while drunk, and both pulled away a little bit. Tonks stumbled, and Remus steadied her. Then she attempted to speak.

“It’s late. I should probably…” She screwed her eyes tight, and waved her arms in the air, vaguely. The word “disapparate” was not going to come to her in this state. “I should probably go,” she finally forced out.

Remus squinted at her, and tried to formulate a response. He pointed his finger in her general direction, and spoke.

“You’re too dissed to drunk-apparate,” he accused.

“Huh?” Tonks couldn’t contain her confusion.

“I said, ‘You’re too dissed to drunk-apparate.’”

Tonks wailed. “I don’t even know what that means!!!”

“It means, Dymphanora, that you should stay here, sit with me, and have another drink.” She took his hand, followed him to the sofa, and landed in a heap on top of him while attempting to sit. She righted herself, and then accepted his offered glass of firewhiskey. They continued to laugh, chat, and drink well into the night.

_______________________________________________________________________

“Ooooooohhhhhhh.”

Remus moaned as he awakened, not quite ready to open his eyes. His head hurt. His muscles hurt. His hair hurt. He was bloody freezing, too. He gingerly rubbed his shoulder, and realized the reason – he was shirtless. He could tell by the feel, as well as the scent, that he was in his own bed, but something was amiss. As much as he hated to, he felt he would have to open his eyes to ascertain the source of his concern.

He opened his right eye a crack, and quickly shut it again. Too bright! Arrrggghhh. He rubbed his eyes, hard, and tried again. Yes – he had been right. He was in his room. Good. He tried to roll over, and found that he couldn’t. Something was on his right arm, keeping it in place.

Oh, god, no.

Pink, sleep-mussed hair.

Merlin, no.

Nymphadora.

There she was, sleeping with her back to him, wearing his blue flannel pyjama top. It was huge on her, and acted as a sufficient nightshirt, but Remus could still see long, bare, tanned legs, and something else. Above her low-cut knickers, staring at him from her hip, was the wolf. It seemed to be daring him to imagine what had gone on there last night.

Remus thought back. They had been drinking like fiends, they had slow-danced a little, and he had expended a great deal of effort trying not to snog her senseless on the sofa. Had anything happened? He attempted to take stock of the situation. He was in a pair of flannel pants – that was a good sign. The covers on the bed didn’t appear to be too disturbed – he took that as a good sign also. Sadly, the fact that he had blacked out was probably a good sign as well. Surely, any 38 year old man who was too drunk to remain conscious was probably too drunk to do that, right? Merlin, he hoped so.

Not that he hadn’t dreamed of spending the night with Nymphadora. On the contrary, he had spent so much time thinking about being with her that he felt like a horny teenager again. She was so young and so beautiful, and, when he was honest with himself, he knew he was crazy about her. In a sense, he liked her a little too much. Too much to expose her to the life of poverty and damnation that he lived. Too much to let her get too close. Too much to let her love him. And yet, he couldn’t deny that waking up with her in his arms felt right. He wanted to feel every part of her. He wanted to lie close to her and breathe in her scent. He wanted to stay next to her, like this, forever. As it was, he sated himself with a simple, if daring act. He leaned over and placed a quick, warm kiss on the wolf at her hip. Then he positioned himself back on his pillow, and waited.

Tonks began to stir, and rubbed her face with her hands.

“Mmmmmm. Good morning sweetheart,” she murmured, groggily. Then she opened her eyes and took in the room around her. When her eyes found Remus, she jumped a little, nearly falling out of bed. He caught her, awkwardly, and placed her to rights on the mattress.

“Morning, Tonks. You okay?”

“Uh – yeah, I suppose. Dare I ask…?” she swept her arm across the front of her, indicating their presence in the bed together.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” was Remus’ honest reply.

“Did we…?” she couldn’t seem to get the words out.

“I don’t think so.”

Tonks looked relieved. “Well, we mustn’t have then. Trust me, Remus... you’d remember." She gave him a shy, flirty look that was much too dangerous for this moment, lying back, half-naked on his bed.

“And trust me, Nymphadora – you’d remember, too.” They lay, searching each others’ eyes for another few moments, before they were interrupted by a knock at the door.

“Moony, mate – you may as well wait for the shower. There’s no bloody hot water!,” Sirius called in. Remus said nothing, but felt that a cold shower was probably in order, in any case.

Hot water won’t be necessary,” Tonks whispered. Then she clamped a hand over her mouth. “Cripes – did I say that out loud!!?” She hauled herself, awkwardly, out of bed, pulled the pyjama top down as far as she could get it go to, and padded off toward the shower.

Remus could still sense her all around him. Her scent was intoxicating, both sexy and innocent at once. He breathed deeply, and allowed himself a little smile. It had been amazing to wake up next to her. Amazing to bask in her scent, amazing to touch her. He knew it was wrong, but he coudn't help but be amazed by her. There would be plenty of time for regret later. Plenty of time.




If you get a second, please leave me a review. Thank you!! Paloma


Chapter 8: Night Guard
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Missing Moments

Chapter Eight

Embarrassed by her evening (and morning) with Remus, Tonks has stayed away for a couple of weeks. They bump into each other at the Department of Mysteries, however, and sparks fly. (There is some strong language in this one. I’m sorry, but I have the sense that Sirius is going quite mad in the house, and it is coming through in his choice of words.)

This one was particularly difficult to write. If you could read and review, it would be much appreciated. Oh – and none of it is mine, of course. Thank Merlin for JKR.



“Night Guard”

Tonks checked the clock on the wall in her office. 7:05. It had been a bloody long Wednesday, filled with little other than paperwork and filing. In a sense, she was thankful for it. That sort of work was painfully boring, but it required her full attention, and kept her from whiling away the hours with daydreams and regrets. In fact, she made a note to bring home a few hefty-looking files for the weekend, just to spare her the agony of being alone with her thoughts.

Her stomach gave a low grumble. She rifled through her desk, promising herself that next time, she would remember to pack some damned supper. She found a box of raisins, which she opened and drained in one shot, like a glass of tequila. That would have to do, for now. Then she gathered her briefcase and her wand, and exited the Aurors’ Office. She heard voices from down the hall.

“Hey Tonks – can we hold the elevator for you?” called a young trainee named Calliope.

Tonks somehow summoned a cheerful tone. “Nah – thanks sweetie! I’ve been sitting on my ass all day. I think I fancy taking the stairs.”

“Suit yourself – see you tomorrow, Tonks!” The elevator closed, and Tonks did indeed open the door to the stairwell. She did not, however, stop after four flights when she reached the main floor of the building. On the contrary, she continued for another 13 flights, to the bowels of the Ministry of Magic, and her thighs were burning by the time she reached the Department of Mysteries.

Guard duty tonight. She only seldom had to do it after a full day’s work, usually preferring to take her shifts on weekends and holidays. As it was, Arthur had asked her to trade with him, as he had some pressing business at home to attend to. She had no pressing business at all, of course, so she was the obvious choice to fill-in. She didn’t mind, really. Arthur had shown her great kindness over the years, and she was happy to help him. It was just that it was bloody exhausting. She would end up being awake for 36 hours straight, which would render her practically useless for a few days afterwards. She could almost imagine how he felt, the day after a full moon.

Ah – him. Her mind always managed to come back to him, if she let it wander long enough. She located the correct door in the hall, conjured a table and chair to sit at, and allowed herself a little moment to wallow.

Remus. She hadn’t seen him for weeks, since the morning after his birthday. She hugged her arms as she thought back. It had been wonderful. Well, what she could remember of it had been wonderful. They had shared a perfectly lovely evening, chatting, dancing a little and snuggling together on the sofa. Sure, they had been drinking, but even so, she had gotten the distinct impression that he was interested. Sincerely interested. And then she’d blown it. She had no idea how, either. All she knew was that she had awakened the next morning, with him, only half dressed, and neither of them could remember what had happened. God – what if she kissed him? What if she told him she loved him? What if she….well, it was unlikely that she did that, but even so, what must he think of her? She’d gone from hoping that one couldn’t die of embarrassment to hoping that perhaps one could. It would put her out of her misery. She sighed, with her head in her hands. She had been so close. She blew it.

Light footsteps in the hallway pulled her from her reflections. She stood with her wand at the ready when a man rounded the corner.

“Tonks!” He seemed thoroughly startled to see her there.

“Remus.” She lowered her wand. Damn – he looked good. Thinner than usual, but with a bit of stubble that she was sure he thought looked scruffy, but in fact was a little too sexy. Damn.

“I…ah…” He stuttered for a moment. “Are y-you on duty tonight?”

“As you see.” She did her best to sound businesslike.

“Ah – Dumbledore must have made a mistake. He asked me to come.”

Tonks managed to look him in the eye. “There’s no need, Remus. I’m here.”

“Did you work today?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Ah.” And with that, he gave a short bow, turned on his heel and bounded quickly back into the stairwell. Tonks let out the breath that she had been holding, and slumped back into her chair. Well, that was…horrible. Worse than she could have imagined. He couldn’t even talk to her. Not even for a moment. She could live without him loving her – she had never truly been convinced that he had loved her. But to live without his friendship? That was unimaginable. He had become a part of her life. When she thought of this past year, she thought of him. And now he couldn’t spend thirty seconds with her. She blew it. She felt tears coming. She had been holding them back since his birthday, hoping against hope that there would still be a chance. No sense being stoic anymore, really, she told herself. Her chest heaved, and giant tears streamed down her cheeks. With her head in her hands, and through her sniffs and sobs, she didn’t hear him return ten minutes later.

___________________________________________________________________________________________


He hated when she did Night Guard after a full day’s work. It was too much for her. He could see that she was exhausted already, and he was certain that she wouldn’t have brought herself any supper. He’d gone to a little shop around the corner, and purchased sandwiches, coffee, fruit and sweets for two. He’d stay with her, if she’d have him. Not that he was much use himself. Going up and down 13 flights of stairs had taken the wind out of his sails a little as well. That said, between her exhaustion and his old bones, they made one decent guard, he was pretty sure.

He came around the corner, and the paper bag he was carrying rustled a little. She looked up. She had been crying. His heart broke to see her so sad. Why would she cry over him? She was too good to cry over him. She wiped her cheeks a little, and smoothed the front of her robes.

He stood squarely in front of her and cocked one eyebrow, attempting to look jocular. "Allow me to introduce myself," he said. "Remus Lupin...Porn Star." She gave a cold, violent snort of a laugh before fixing him with a stare that told him not to come any closer.

“I guess I should ask you my question, just to be safe,” she began. Remus swallowed hard. What was she going to ask?

“What did you get me for Christmas this year?”

Ah – the safety question – he should have guessed. Moody insisted on it, since he was convinced that any Order member could be impersonated, either by Polyjuice Potion or by “some bloody Metamorphmagus.”

“I got you a lovely, innocent muggle toy, which you managed to corrupt beyond all recognition.” Well, that got a smile, anyway. “My turn. Why haven’t I seen you for forty-three days, Nymphadora?”

Tonks’ eyes narrowed. “That’s not your question.”

“I changed it. Do I get an answer?” He took a few steps closer to her, and put his parcel on her table. Then he knelt next to her, and covered her hands, which were folded in her lap, with his own. She looked away, not able to meet his eyes. After a moment, she spoke.

“How could I face you?” she started. “How could I face you knowing that you think I’m the kind of girl who wakes up, hungover, in strange men’s beds?” She blinked hard, trying to control the tears that were beginning to flow again.

Remus pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, and wiped her cheeks. He pressed the cloth into her hands before conjuring himself a chair, and pulling it near her. He tilted his head a little and gave her a gentle, reassuring smile. “I never thought anything of the sort, Nymphadora. On the contrary, I was worried that you were giving a lecherous old git a wide berth. Oh – and by the way, I don’t think of you as a ‘girl’, and I’d like to think that you don’t think of me as a ‘strange man’.” She finally looked into his eyes, and smiled. He sighed, and went on. “I had a terrific birthday, Tonks. Best of my life. But, honestly, if I had known that I would lose you as a result, I’d give it all up in an instant. I miss you. Sirius misses you. Did I mention that I miss you?”

Tonks made no answer. Instead, she placed her hand on his stubbly cheek, and let out a little chuckle. Then she motioned to the paper bag, and spoke.

“I guess if you really wanted to make a peace offering, you would have brought some coffee.”

“I did.”

“My hero. Cripes – let’s eat.”

They ate, and chatted and kept each other company well into the night. Tonks never questioned his decision to stay and share the duty with her – it seemed futile, as it was clear that he intended to remain by her side. As it was, the time passed quickly and pleasantly, something she had never before experienced on guard duty. Relief washed over her, to have him as her friend again. By two in the morning, however, she was no longer able to stifle the yawns that were creeping up on her, in her exhaustion. Remus looked at her, with her eyelids drooping, and finally understood why Dumbledore had sent him. Smart man, Dumbledore.

He coaxed her into taking a break. “Rest,” he ordered. “That’s one of the advantages of having two of us here. I insist that you sleep.”

“I’m perfectly capable of doing my job, Moony.”

“Indeed. You are more than capable of doing two jobs, from what I can see. That said, you are not superhuman, and you should get some rest. Here…” he motioned to the table, “just put your head down for a moment. I’ll keep watch. Everything will be fine.” She finally seemed to agree, and placed her head on her folded arms on the table. Remus rubbed her back, rhythmically, and in seconds she was asleep, a tiny smile still on her lips.

So, she hadn’t been angry with him. Thank Merlin. He’d worried so much. He had been certain that he’d scared her away. Sirius had been furious with him for weeks.

“So – you shagged her and now she won’t come back to visit. What the hell did you do wrong?” he accused.

“Nothing. We didn’t…I mean…well, nothing happened. Not like that.”

“Merlin’s balls – are you kidding me? What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I don’t know. We were very drunk. I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind, my conscience got the better of me.”

“Fine lot of good that did you – why won’t she visit, then? I’m going spare stuck in this house. I LIKE it when she comes around. She’s fun. You, on the other hand, are a right pain in the arse. Maybe she’s insulted that you DIDN’T make a move. Yeah, that’s it. Go shag her…then everything will be all right.”

Remus laughed in spite of himself. “Yeah, Padfoot. That’ll solve all our problems. I’ll just nip over and shag your little cousin, will I?”

Sirius, red-faced, pointed a finger at his friend. “I don’t know how you can live like a monk all the time. Do you know how hard it is for me not to prowl the streets, looking for action? A man has needs, Moony.”

“You’re scaring me, Padfoot.”

Sirius seemed insulted. “Are you kidding? Don’t you worry. If the time ever comes when I’m lusting after your skinny, bi-polar, cursed fucking werewolf ass, it’ll be time for them to come shoot me. Deal?”

“Deal.”


Earlier that evening, even, when he had been leaving number 12 Grimmauld Place, Sirius was still sounding off on the same theme.

“Heading out?”

“Night Guard.”

“Ah – perhaps you should pop-in on Tonks in the morning, since you’ll be at the Ministry anyway.”

“I don’t think she wants to see me.” Remus buttoned his coat, trying to sound casual.

“Pop-in anyway. Shag her on Umbridge’s desk. Tell her to come visit me. And bring me home some fucking pie.”


Remus smiled to himself. He’d made up with Nymphadora. Certainly she would come for a visit, now. Sirius would think the worst (or the best, in his mind). Ah, no worries. He’d have to remember to pop to the shop and get him some sweets. He passed the next few hours watching Nymphadora sleeping, the most pleasant few hours he'd passed in ages.

He checked his watched. 7:30. As much as he hated to, he would have to awaken the pretty, turquoise-haired mass slumbering on the table. He rubbed her back a little and whispered in her ear.

“Nymphadora. Wake up. Time for work.”

“Call me Tonks” she murmured, in a hostile voice, before realizing where she was. She blinked heavily, and then smiled at him. “Oh – it’s you. Sorry. Is it time for work already?”

“Yes.”

“Thanks for letting me sleep. I think I really needed it.”

“Of course.” He offered her a hand to help her up.

She put her hand on his chest, intending to kiss his cheek in thanks. Her eyes met his, and something stopped her. She saw it, finally. A flicker in the grey warmth of his eyes, a question, a yearning. She’d felt it in herself for so long, but had never been certain that he was feeling it too. She looked down at his lips and then back up to his eyes. She waited, feeling a nervous heat flow in waves from her lips to her heart to all parts of her body.

He couldn’t explain it. The moment she touched his chest, he seemed unable to think of any of the excuses that had been holding him back. The heat of her touch sent electricity coursing through him. He felt a blush creep to his cheeks, and swallowed hard. He found the courage to look into her eyes, and all of existence fell still. He reached forward and touched her cheek. Her skin felt like silk against his rough hand. He leaned towards her, and was almost overwhelmed by her wild, woodsy scent. He met her eyes once more before she closed them, and sighed. Then he gently touched his lips to hers.

It had to be the sweetest sensation in the world.

Her hands slid from his chest around his neck, and she deepened the kiss. Her heart was beating wildly, and she wondered for a moment if he could hear it, or feel it? For his part, he had curled his arms around her waist, and was now holding her closely to him. How could he have waited so long? This felt…perfect.

When they pulled apart, Tonks sighed a baffled, almost sad "ohhhh", and blushed crimson. Then she spoke. “Ah – work. I should get going. Um…can I...come by later?” She looked at him, shyly, from the corner of her eye.

“I’d be heartbroken if you didn’t.” He grinned, gave her a little hug, and kissed the top of her head. “Have a great day, Nymphadora.” She offered a flirty wink, and headed up the stairs. She found herself absentmindedly touching her lips where his had just been, moments before, and then rubbing the back of her neck, which was now tingling furiously.

Remus, staring after her, found himself doing the very same thing.




If you get a moment to compose a quick review, I'd be very appreciative! Have a great day! Paloma





Chapter 9: Blissful
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Missing Moments

Chapter Nine

Just a few sweet moments between Remus and Tonks before all hell breaks loose.

“Blissful”

Remus Lupin checked himself in the mirror and straightened his tie. He allowed himself a little smile and the briefest of chuckles. Was he nervous? Something about that woman made him feel so…so young. He had butterflies in his stomach, like a fifteen year old going on a first date. Not that he had gone on that many dates since he was fifteen, really. Still, it was a bit silly, at his age, to have sweaty palms. What was she doing to him?

It seemed strange to him that the most “normal” relationship he’d ever had was with a 25-year-old metaphorphmagus. In a sense, though, that was what was happening. With other girls he always knew that, eventually, they would have to discuss his “furry little problem.” That chat rarely went particularly well. Since that wasn’t an issue with Nymphadora, he could allow himself to feel…well, blissful. That pure, wide-eyed bliss at the beginning of a relationship that everyone else in the world seemed to take for granted, and that he, until very recently, had never experienced. In the few weeks since their evening on guard duty, he found that his heart skipped a beat when she walked into the room. He ached for any simple touch, to hold her hand, to stroke her cheek. He found himself reveling in stolen glances that were for him alone. It was ridiculous, there was no question, but it was also…blissful.

A tiny tap on his shoulder made him jump. Wow. He realized he must have really been lost in his reflections not to hear Tonks coming. It wasn’t as though she tread softly.

“Sorry, handsome. Didn’t mean to startle you,” she smiled up at him and tugged at his tie. “You look great.” She gave him a soft, warm kiss, and he was surprised at how much these little, intimate touches still made him blush. When she pulled away, he held her at arms length and then twirled her around.

“You look great, too. That’s quite the dress.” It really was. He wasn’t sure how he’d make it through dinner, staring at this creature across from him. The dress was simple – black and sleeveless, but it was very short and very…well, small. How she'd managed to get it on without maiming herself was beyond him. Her hair was pink, but a little longer than she usually wore it. She was wearing black heels, too. They weren’t too high, but he still couldn’t hold back a little smirk – those were a recipe for disaster, really. Still and all, the overall effect was – Wow.

“We should probably get going. I don’t want to be late.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him down the stairs, past a sullen-looking Sirius.

“Have fun,” he spat. Tonks let go of Remus’ hand, and crossed the room to hug her cousin. After a moment, he hugged her back.

“I’m sorry you can’t come, Sirius. I know being in this house is awful. We’ll bring home food and stories, I promise.” His sad eyes searched hers. “Your day will come, Sirius, I promise. You’ll be free. We’ll run wild – you, me, Remus, Harry – we’ll wreak havoc, I swear it.”

Sirius touched her cheek, and smiled. “Well, as long as you promise.” Tonks nodded. “Oh – and bring home more than food and stories. See if you can’t pick me up a woman while you’re at it!”

“I’ll do what I can, love.” And with that, Tonks and Remus apparated to the Burrow.



It had seemed like a strange invitation to Tonks. Dinner with the Weasleys wasn’t all that unusual in itself, but the fact that Molly had told her to wear something nice seemed bloody bizarre. The Weasleys weren’t particularly formal people, and meals at their home were usually less like dinner parties and more like three-ring circuses.

“Would you like to come over Saturday night, dear? We’re having a bit of a do.”

“Sure, Molly. Listen, should you ask Remus? I don’t think he gets out too much, and I’m sure he’d appreciate being included.”

“Oh…Remus.” She let out a sigh. “Well, yes, I suppose we should ask him, too. Yes, alright then. Oh, and Tonks – wear something eye-catching, will you?”

“Don’t I always?” Tonks asked, looking down at her jeans with half of the ass ripped out of them and the acid green t-shirt with “Wicked” written in rhinestones across the chest.

“You know what I mean, Tonks.”


So there Tonks was, dressed in something that she hoped was eye-catching enough for Molly Weasley.

Why didn’t Molly sound too enthused about Remus being there? She was very fond of Remus, as far as Tonks could tell. There were no worries about his lycanthropy, either, as the full moon was three weeks away. Ah well – no time for questions. She grabbed Remus’ arm, and knocked at the door of the Burrow.



Dinner had been a truly strange event, Remus mused. Arthur was dressed in his best suit, and Molly in a curious profusion of feathers and beads. Bill was there, accompanied by a very pretty French girl by the name of Fleur Delacour. Clearly part-Veela, from what he could see. Arthur blushed every time she spoke to him, and seemed unable to perform the simplest of acts in her presence, such as passing the salt or speaking in anything beyond monosyllables. Bill fared a little better, but Remus got the impression that he had had some practice. These two were obviously a couple.

Molly didn’t seem nearly as drawn to the young girl as the Weasleys of the male persuasion. She barely spoke to her and spoke instead, at great length to Tonks, asking her questions about her adventures as an Auror and her exciting travels with the Ministry. “Oh – Bill, did you hear that? Tonks was working in Norway this winter. Didn’t you enjoy Norway when you were there last year?” Bill didn’t look away from Fleur, but answered, mechanically, “Yes, Mum.” A few minutes later, Molly tried again. “Oh, Bill – what do you think of Tonks’ hair? Isn’t it a fetching shade of…pink?” Again, Bill didn’t look up, but manage to mumble an “Uh huh”, while still focused on a freckle on Fleur’s cheek.

Ah – so that was the point of the evening. Molly clearly did not want this young French girl in the family, and was doing her best to replace her with Tonks. Remus would have been terribly jealous if the plot wasn’t failing quite so miserably. Bill seemed unable to tear his eyes away from his date, and Nymphadora kept looking desperately to her own for some assistance. Remus was having too much fun to comply. Sometimes the Marauder in him came out in full force.

“Oh – Bill” he addressed his young friend, “Did you know that Tonks is headed to Egypt next month to investigate a crypt near Subra al-Haymah. Didn’t you stay there for a while?” Molly fixed him with a look of adoration, and Tonks fixed him with a look of fury. Bill pulled his gaze from his date, and began to speak to Tonks at length about life in Egypt. Remus began to chat with Fleur, in French, about her impressions thus far of England. Molly was nearly bubbling over by the time she served the pudding.

“Fleur”, she said, in a suddenly-pleasant tone “Isn’t it just lovely to have someone to speak French with? It must be exhausting trying to speak a different language all the time.”

“Oh, non, eet ees not zat bad. I could listen to Bill zpeak all day. ‘Owever, your Monsieur Lupin does zpeak beautiful French.” She covered his hand with hers. Remus only smiled, and said “Merci beaucoup.” Then he turned to see Tonks, whose cheeks were now a blazing shade of crimson that had nothing to do with morphing. He gave her a quick wink. She let out the breath that she was holding, and gave him a shy smile from across the table. Now it was his turn to blush. There was something about Nymphadora that got to him, every time.

Tonks spoke. “Molly, would you mind terribly if I went out for some air. I’m suddenly very warm.”

Molly nodded, but before she could get to her inevitable suggestion that Bill join her, Remus interrupted.

“Would you like some company, Nymphadora? I would certainly enjoy a moonlit stroll.”

“Why certainly, Professor Lupin. Perhaps you could teach me some French,” Tonks deadpanned. Lupin bit the inside of his cheek in an effort not to laugh.

Molly wasn’t quite ready to give up just yet. “Are you sure it’s safe, Remus – walking in the moonlight and all?”

“Yes Molly – it’s fine.” He saw the look of confusion on Fleur’s face, and spoke to her, very gently.

“Je suis un lycanthrope, Fleur. Un loup-garou.”

The effect was instant. Fleur let out a gasp, and jumped back, into Bill’s arms. Molly gave her a look of disgust, and then smiled, apologetically, at Remus. Tonks gripped his arm and seemed to be willing herself not to attack the wee French waif. Remus ushered her out the door.

“How dare she! How dare she act as though you’re some sort of monster! Unbelievable!”

“Honestly, Nymphadora – she responded better than most. Most run screaming. It’s okay, sweetheart.” He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. “You know, I don’t really want to think about that right now. How often do I get a moment alone with you? I’d like to enjoy it.” He put his arm around her, and they walked, in silence, along a path in the Weasley’s garden. Tonks managed to settle herself down, and when she spoke again, it was with her usual good humor.

“Here’s a question: how come you don’t fall to pieces in Fleur’s presence? I couldn’t believe how Arthur was behaving. Goodness – he’s been crazy about Molly for thirty years, and there he was, stammering like a schoolboy. And Bill didn’t even seem like himself around her, either. I half expected you to start giggling when she grabbed your hand, but you seemed just fine. Why is that? Are you impervious to her charms?”

“You noticed that she has some Veela blood?” Tonks nodded. “Well, I suppose I’m a little more immune because I used to go out with a Veela.”

“Really!?! Are you serious? Details, Moony – details.”

“I don’t kiss and tell, Tonks.”

“Oh yes you damned well do.”

Remus smiled. “Fine. I dated a Veela when I was young.”

“And?”

“What you you mean ‘and'?’”

“Well, why does that make you immune?”

“Oh.” Remus took a deep breath and let it out. “Well, you see, Nymphadora, my first time was with a Veela.”

“Remus – you dirty dog! How old were you?”

“Fifteen.”

“WHAT!?! That was younger than Sirius! Does he know? It would kill him!”

“No, he doesn’t know. Again, I’m not all that inclined to kiss and tell.” He flashed her a mischievous grin.

“So, how come you don’t have a litter of startlingly attractive werewolves running around, then?”

“Well, you see, Veela are interesting creatures. Most people see the attractive side, but very few see the monster within. Salomé – that was her name – wanted me to take her to a dance that happened to coincide with the full moon. I told her no, and she bared her fangs at me – literally. Here, look…” He indicated a long, jagged scar that ran from behind his left ear down to his collarbone. “She did that to me. Once you’ve seen the violent side of a Veela, they tend to be less attractive to you.”

There was a look of horror in Tonks’ eyes. “A girl did that to you?”

“Not a girl, Tonks. A freaking monster.” Tonks reached up and touched the scar with small, warm hands. Then, on her tiptoes, she placed gentle kisses along the length of it, reaching from Remus’ ear to his collarbone. He caught his breath. He still wasn’t used to her sudden displays of affection, and they often caught him off guard. He wondered if they always would?

“Well, Moony, I get the impression that you’re drawn to scary women.”

He lifted her hand and kissed it. “I’m drawn to beautiful scary women, Nymphadora.” He looked down at his feet and mumbled, “They’ll be the death of me.”

Tonks flashed him a quick smile of pure adoration. Then she spoke. “You know, as long as we’re discussing ‘first times’, I think I’ve got you trumped. I’m guessing that for you, the ‘act’ itself was okay, am I right?”

Remus raised an eyebrow. “Indeed.”

“Ah – well, mine was awful. I was nineteen, and I thought I was the last virgin in England. I decided to pick up a fellow in a muggle bar, and, well, let’s just say it was atrocious. Here’s some advice from me to you, Moony – never sleep with someone you don’t fancy.”

Remus gave her a serious look. “I’ll see that, and raise you, Nymphadora. Never sleep with someone you don’t love .”

She held his gaze for a few moments before she spoke. “That’s sound advice, Professor. Sound advice.”

They walked along in silence for a few more moments. It was inevitable, though, that Tonks would trip, what with the tree roots on the ground and the patent leather death traps on her feet. When it happened, Remus caught her, determined not to let her fall and embarrass herself. He hoisted her up, and the look of relief and gratitude on her face sent waves of electricity through him. He took her in his arms and kissed her, more passionately than he ever had before. His hands traced down her spine and settled at the small of her back, while her arms reached around him and her nails gently grazed the back of his neck. He’d never wanted anything as much as he wanted her at that moment.

At length he pulled away and spoke, breathlessly. “Nymphadora…you have no idea what you’re doing to me.”

She laughed out loud. “Honestly, Remus, I’m pretty sure I do.” The saucy smirk on her face was a bit too sexy. He tried his best to gather his thoughts in the presence of this beautiful creature.

“As much as it kills me, we’d better go back in. Doing this in Molly’s garden surrounded by lecherous gnomes wasn’t exactly how I pictured our first time.”

Now it was Tonks’ turn to raise an eyebrow. “You’ve imagined us together, have you?” she teased.

“Look at you in that bloody dress. What do you think? I’m an old man but I’m not dead, Tonks. Crikey.”

“If you don’t stop calling yourself old, I’m going to get angry. You DO NOT want to see me angry, Moony. A Veela’s got nothing on a Tonks who’s been scorned.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he answered, and offered her his arm. They strolled back to the Burrow, and spent the rest of the evening trying their best not to betray the tingling sensation they felt in each others’ presence. They weren’t too successful.

____________________________________________________________________________

“Well, didn’t see that coming, did I?” Molly scolded herself, as Tonks and Lupin left the Burrow, hand in hand later that night. She allowed herself a little chuckle. Some things in the universe were very strange indeed. The scholarly gentleman and the little nymph – who would have thought? And yet, when she saw them together, smiling blissfully into each other’s eyes as they apparated, it appeared to be…perfect.




If you would be kind enough to write a quick review, I’d be so thankful. Paloma











Chapter 10: For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down
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Missing Moments

Chapter 10

A/N: Title taken from the great David Adams Richards novel. All else belongs to JKR – I’m simply leasing. Rated Mature for a bit of implied naughtiness.


For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down



The tall, nude figure fell back on his pillow, panting heavily. The tiny, pink-haired woman, red-faced from a frenzied combination of blush and exertion, fell next to him. Neither spoke for a few moments, as they tried to gather their thoughts and return to this mortal plane.

Tonks ran a hand across her glistening forehead, let out a slow breath, and managed a whispered “Wow.”

Remus heaved himself onto his side and reached for her. His hand fell to that gentle curve between her waist and her hip, just above that bloody beautiful tattoo. Then and there, he decided that that particular span of soft, glowing flesh was his favorite place on earth, the place he felt most at home. He pulled her closer, and kissed her softly. “That was amazing.”

Tonks’ shy smile was followed by a rather violent shudder.

“Are you cold, love? Here, let me find a blanket for you…” He reached over her to the floor, where a curious assortment of blankets, articles of clothing, wands and teacups lay. She stopped him.

“I’m not cold, Remus. I’m having…ah, how can I explain this? I guess you could call them…reverberations.” The effect of her smile that was at once shy and naughty was quite stunning.

“Reverberations,” Remus repeated. “Hmmm…is that a good thing?” His cocked eyebrow and sly Marauder’s half-grin betrayed him. He knew the answer to that one before he had asked it.

She sighed. “Indeed, Professor Lupin, that is a very good thing, as you well know.” She brushed a few stray strands of hair from his eyes, then pulled him to her and kissed him. She was still astounded by the feeling of their bodies so close. Waves of heat emanated from every place where they touched, and coursed through her all the way to her fingertips and toes. She tried to control herself, but when he placed a soft kiss at the sensitive spot just under her earlobe, her body gave yet another violent shudder.

Remus pulled back a little to admire his handiwork. Nymphadora was shivering, not with cold, but with the pleasure that he had given her. He had never been with such a responsive woman. He smiled to himself. It had been years, but, Merlin, it had been worth the wait. She was amazing.

Just then she began to trace the scars on his shoulder. She reached behind him, and rubbed his neck with warm, soft fingers. He let out a low moan.

“Roll over, Moony – let me rub your back.” He obliged her, chuckling to himself. She kneeled next to him, and began to massage in slow circles along his shoulder blades. “My heavens – you sure do keep a great deal of tension back here.” She continued to touch him, gently.

“Mmmmm – that feels so good. Can you do it a little harder?” She did, and reveled in the gorgeous sigh it elicited. She felt him relax a bit under her touch.

“Let me know if I’m hurting you. I’m not much of a masseuse.”

“I wouldn’t know – I’ve never had a massage before. That said, I don’t think you could hurt me, Nymphadora. I…oh…do that again…” She continued her attention to a little spot below his right shoulder.

“You’ve never had a massage? Really?”

“No. No, I…god that feels good.” He smiled into his pillow. “I have so many scars, you know? It’s not too attractive. Luckily, you don’t seem to mind.” He yawned, and then whispered “Don’t stop.” She continued to knead the taut muscles of his back until well after it was clear that he had drifted off to sleep. She was pleased to be able to do something for him that no woman had done before. It seemed only fitting, as he had managed some new experiences for her as well. Now they were even, she thought with a smile. She lay beside him, cuddled into his back, and breathed in his scent. She took a moment to appreciate this perfect moment between them, and then felt herself beginning to nod off. Before long she, too, was asleep.

_____________________________________________________________________________


“Oh, Merlin, no, no!!” Tonks and Remus awoke with a start, to hear Sirius screaming in the hallway. He burst into their bedroom, and seemed to take no notice that the two were completely naked.

“Moony – Harry thinks I’m at the Department of Mysteries!” He was throwing on a sweater as he spoke.

It took Remus a second to understand what was being said. “Harry thinks what?!”

“He told Snape. He thinks Voldemort is holding me at the Department of Mysteries, and he’s going to try to save me! It’s a fucking trap!” Remus climbed out of bed and sifted through the pile to find his clothing. He handed a few articles to Tonks, and then nodded to Sirius.

“Give me two minutes – contact the others.” Sirius ran down the stairs.

Tonks was dressing quickly, and speaking to Remus in hushed tones. “Sirius can’t come, Remus. He can’t go to the Ministry. Too much is at stake. If he’s caught, he’ll be killed on sight. They won’t risk losing him again.”

“Nymphadora, you can’t ask him not to go. He’s knows the risks, I assure you. He can’t stay if Harry’s in danger. Please don’t suggest to him that he remain behind. It won’t do any good.” He kissed her on the forehead, and rushed down the stairs to meet his best friend.

With wands at the ready, the three apparated to the Ministry of Magic.

___________________________________________________________________________


Seated in a chair next to a bed at St. Mungo’s, Remus Lupin, head in hands, swore violently to himself and tried to offset the bitter tears that had been threatening for the past three hours. A series of fleeting images passed before him…Sirius taunting Bellatrix, a flash of green light, seeing his best friend pass through the veil, the desperate look on Harry’s face as he tried to follow his godfather into death, and finding Nymphadora on the ground, fighting for her life. Merlin, he thought, as he watched her sleeping before him – I could have lost her. The relief he felt, knowing that she had survived, was eclipsed by guilt – how dare he feel any happiness, with Sirius gone, and Harry without a bit of real family in the world? Just as he thought he might collapse with sadness, he heard the door open. A short, elderly man with wild white hair and a rather beautiful, dark-haired woman entered the room. Ted and Andromeda Tonks. He would have recognized them anywhere. Andromeda was pure Black, and in her natural state Nymphadora looked very like her. Ted, as he entered the room, tripped on the doorstop and would have landed in a heap on the floor if Remus’ wolf-like reflexes hadn’t allowed him to catch the older gentleman.

“Sorry about that, young man.” He offered his hand, which Remus shook. “Ted. Ted Tonks. Are you the fellow who sent us the owl about our little Nymph?” Remus nodded. “Well, thank you so much.”

“It looks as though she’s going to be fine, sir,” he offered. “She’ll need a few days rest, but she’ll be back to her old self in no time.” He managed a smile, and looked to Andromeda, who was smoothing her daughter’s hair and kissing her cheek. “Hello, Mrs. Tonks.”

“Hello. Thank you for being here. She worries us so, with this Auror business. Are you an Auror too?” she asked.

“No Ma’am. Just a friend.”

“Well, young man, we appreciate all that you’ve done for her. Can I get you a coffee? Ted?” Both men nodded, and she left the room in search of caffeine.

Ted took his daughter’s hand and kissed it. Without turning around, he spoke to Remus. “So…are you the young man who’s been keeping my girl from her Daddy?” he asked.

Remus was amused by these references to him as a young man, although, compared to Ted Tonks, he supposed he was. “No sir, I can’t imagine that it’s me doing that.”

Ted turned and regarded him with a serious look in his eye. “You a werewolf, son?”

Remus swallowed hard before answering. “Yes, sir.” He shuffled his feet, awaiting a response.

Ted chuckled. “Well, then, you’re the one! She’s raving batshit about you, son, I can tell you that. Not much would keep her from Saturday night gumbo and poker with her Daddy, but it appears that you have on more than a few occasions. I’m just pleased to see that my competition is a decent bloke. I couldn’t give her up to just anyone, m’boy.” He reached out and clamped his hand on Remus’ shoulder. Although it made him feel about fifteen, Remus couldn’t help but be pleased that Ted Tonks approved of him. He could also see where Nymphadora got her jolly nature, her clumsiness, and her fondness for werewolves. He now knew why she had no trouble with their age difference, too – Ted was clearly at least 20 years older than Andromeda, and they seemed quite happy together.

When Mrs. Tonks returned with coffee, they drank in silence for a few moments. Then, sensing that they might wish to be alone with their daughter, Remus begged off, explaining that he would return in the morning to check on her. Terribly embarrassed, but unable to resist, he leaned in and kissed Nymphadora on the cheek before leaving. He saw Ted give Andromeda a quick wink, and felt his face blush crimson.

As he left St. Mungo’s, he chose to walk in the cool night air before apparating back to Grimmauld place. He wasn’t ready to be alone in that awful house just yet. He needed to clear his head. His emotions were betraying him at every turn. He’d had the best night of his life with Nymphadora, followed by the worst. All that they had worked for…Sirius dead…Harry alone…the prophesy smashed…the kids injured…Death Eaters…Voldemort. He wanted to cry. He wanted to fall on the side of the road and wail until he felt drained of every proper feeling. He wanted to curse Sirius for leaving him, and beg him to come back. He wanted…he wanted…

But there was no sense thinking about what he wanted. He was needed, more than ever. His weakness, his tears, could do the Order no good. He needed to be strong. How could he have been so foolish? His heart was no longer important. He needed to protect Harry. In a flash he’d decided not to go back to Grimmauld Place, and instead found himself heading to Hogwarts. He needed to see Dumbledore.

____________________________________________________________________________________


Threatening Vernon Dursley was the most fun many of the Order members had had in a while. It seemed to perk poor Harry up as well, so, as assignments went, this was one of the more pleasant ones in ages. Mad-Eye had gone out of his way to frighten the fat bastard, and it seemed like Harry would be getting no trouble from his no-good Muggle relatives this summer. A job well done, Tonks thought to herself.

She herself was feeling pretty good, all things considered. She was fully healed, and had been out of the hospital for a couple of weeks. She was heartbroken over Sirius, though, and only with some intense cheering up by Remus had she been able to bounce back enough to join in the fun at Kings Cross Station. He had told her that she needed to find it in herself to be jolly, if only for Harry’s sake, but it was for Remus’ sake that she was able to do it. In the most desperate of times, that man could make her smile.

After Harry left the station, they strolled off together, hand-in-hand, to a little coffee shop. Remus seemed detached, nervous…something.

“Sickle for your thoughts?” she asked, over sweet tea and scones.

He reached across the table and took her hand. She smiled at him encouragingly. He took a deep breath and let it out before speaking. “Nymphadora, these past few months have been amazing. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have you in my life.” She nodded, and he continued. “You mean everything to me. I need you to know that – no matter what happens.”

She looked surprised. “Remus, I know these are difficult times, but you don’t need to overreact. I’m here. I’ll always be here. What are you worried about?”

“I spoke with Dumbledore. I offered to do something…anything…to help. His suggestion was that I join the werewolves…as a spy. I’ll be going underground with them very soon.”

Tonks still didn’t seem to understand. “Okay. Don’t do anything stupid and get yourself killed, you hear me? When you come back, I’ll be waiting for you.” She was grinning, but her smile wavered when he didn’t return it.

“Nymphadora…Love…it would be silly to assume that I will come back.” She took a sharp intake of breath. He continued. “I’m going to spy on werewolves. Feral wolves. But Nymph, I refuse to kill. Do you understand me? If they catch me taking Wolfsbane, or if they try to force me to test my loyalty by killing, I won’t kill. So it’s very possible that they will kill me.”

Tonks bit her lip and fought back tears. “Don’t go,” she breathed.

He offered a grim smile. “I have to go. I have to do something. I can’t sit in that house and wait for the end. And you…” he said, finally looking into her eyes, “you need to find someone young and whole to love. I’m so much older than you, Nymphadora. I’m poor. I’m damned. I’m dangerous.” She started to protest but he cut her off. “You are the most incredible woman I’ve ever met. You deserve every happiness. That will never happen with me.” He gave her hand a squeeze before standing. He bent down, kissed her cheek, and whispered in her ear, “I will always love you, Nymphadora.” Then he quickly exited the shop, and was gone.

Tonks, stunned and crying, was left trying to hold on to the last image of the only man she had ever truly loved. In her sadness, she did not notice her hair turning from vividest pink to sandy brown, and her eyes changing from ice blue to a warm, sad grey.






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Chapter 11: Boxes of Memories
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Missing Moments

Chapter 11


Tonks tries to rid herself of memories of Remus – will it help?


Boxes of Memories


The weeks since Remus’ departure had been unkind to Tonks. She had found herself barely able to eat or sleep, and was constantly torn between her worry for her lover and her urge to tear him a new one the next time she saw him. In her more lucid moments, she could understand why he had gone underground with the werewolves – she was an Auror, of course, and she knew that one must answer when duty calls. In her more lucid moments, she could even find herself being proud of the man that she had grown to love, who was sacrificing himself for the good of the entire wizarding world. In her more lucid moments, his selflessness made her love him even more. And therein lay the problem with lucid moments.

As she passed days and weeks alone, however, the lucid moments became fewer and farther between. Tonks was exhausted and rail-thin. She had been relegated to desk-work, since her superiors believed her to be ill. When not rifling through files, she slumped at her desk, running her fingers through hair that was now, inexplicably, a plain mousy brown that hung in strings around her face. Her inability to morph only compounded her depression, as she saw him every time she looked at herself. She had taken to avoiding mirrors altogether, the result of which was that she had no idea how very ill and disheveled she looked.

Kingsley Shacklebolt strolled up to her desk and spoke to her with concern in his eyes.

“Tonks – you need to take a break. I don’t even recognize you. Go home. Rest. Come back looking like yourself.”

Tonks looked up and attempted to smile. It came out more like a grimace, twinged with confusion. “Oh – sorry. I’m fine. Just filing away here. No worries.” She shuffled papers unconvincingly as she spoke. Kingsley shook his head.

“Take a few days, Tonks. Those are your orders. Sort out whatever is troubling you, and come back to us whole. We miss you.” He smiled, and gave her a playful wink. When she didn’t respond, he shrugged and plunged his hands deep into his pockets as he walked away.

Tonks gathered up her cloak and wand, and skulked out of the office. Few people noticed her leaving, as she was no longer recognizable as the funky, pink-haired nymph who told filthy jokes at the water-cooler and grew her breasts to triple Es when dressed as Santa’s helper for the office Christmas party. A Tonks that went unnoticed seemed like an oxy-moron, but there she was. Gone.




Entering her flat, she was disheartened. She hadn’t cleaned in ages, and her home was looking and smelling pretty frigging disastrous. Papers and take-out containers littered the floor, there were teacups everywhere, clothes were strewn about the place and there was a layer of dust about three inches thick on every surface of the flat. She’d never be able to properly sleep in this cesspool, although she thought it might be possible that she could be knocked unconscious by the stench.

Fuck it, she decided. I’ll clean.

Tonks had never been very good at domestic spells, and wasn’t really in the mood to fail with them at the moment. Instead, she drew a bucket of scalding water and some cleanser, and began to tidy the Muggle way. She picked up all the trash and scrubbed the floors, tables and counters. She did 3-weeks worth of washing up, which took over an hour. She cleaned the bathroom until it sparkled, and changed all the linens. She was a rancid ball of sweat by the time it was all done, but she was also pleased with herself. For four hours, she really hadn’t thought of him at all, and the exertion seemed to help purge her of some of her sadness. She poured herself a glass of wine and drew herself a bubblebath. “I can get over this,” she thought.

Easier said than done, really. Once in the bath, all she could think of was the fact that it seemed much too big without Remus there to keep her company. In her mind, she attempted to list the reasons why she was mad at him, why she needed to forget him. She was betrayed at every turn however, by her body, which wanted him badly, and her soul, which craved its mate. She tried willing herself to hate him, but to no avail. She loved him…she was worried about him…she wanted nothing but him.

Stepping out of the bath she caught a fleeting glimpse of herself in the full-length mirror on the door. She was stunned by her own reflection. Brown hair streaked with grey hung in strings around her face, which was thin with protruding cheekbones. Her eyes, now grey with amber flecks, registered shock at her appearance. Her limbs were long and sinewy, and she could have sworn that the wolf at her hip, although still beautiful, seemed angry at his angular, bony new home. She screwed up her face in concentration, and attempted to morph. “I am Tonks, I am Tonks, I am…Nymphadora” she told herself, and was rewarded for her efforts with a single streak of pink hair among the brown and grey. It faded as quickly as it had appeared, and then and there, her morphing ability was completely gone.

Who was she if she wasn’t a metamorph? What had he done to her? Why could she project only him? This face, his face, was torturous.

“Right then,” she told herself, pouring another glass of wine, “time to rid myself of his burden.” She stalked into her room and returned with an old hat-box of her grandmother’s. She placed it on the floor and hurled herself on the carpet beside it. She opened it and spilled its contents around her, determined to purge herself of this sadness. She’d burn it all, if that’s what it took.

Tonks had never been the sentimental sort, but there was something about her relationship with Remus that made her want to keep things, to preserve memories. Almost since their first meeting, she had been compelled to hold on to little objects that reminded her of him. She had chided herself a million times for the silliness of it all, but nevertheless, she retained the bloody hat-box. Funny, that.

She pulled from it a napkin, where she had written plans for their rescue of Harry the summer before. She remembered that night, finding out about his lycanthropy and making him laugh at his condition. It made her smile. Really, it would be stupid to get rid of that – it was an example of some great work on her part. She decided it would go into her Professional Portfolio – once she got around to putting one together. What was next? There was a copy of Hippocrates’ Anatomy of Wizards, a giant book which she had never returned to the library at number 12, Grimmauld Place. That, she reckoned she should hold on to, as it could come in handy for future studies. There was the paper and bow that her Christmas gift had been wrapped in. Well, she supposed she could re-use that…not that she had ever re-used paper before, but her mother had always been on her case to be more frugal about these things. Fair enough – for practical reasons only, that had to be kept.

She continued this way through every item in the hat-box. There were the letters they had written to one another when she had been away. She convinced herself that she couldn’t destroy those, because what if she was attacked when they were only half-burned, and they were recovered, and then something of their association with the Order was discovered? Not that their letters mentioned the Order. Or anything else particularly incriminating. Even so, better safe than sorry, so the letters were returned to the relative safety of her grandmother’s hat-box. And she certainly couldn’t throw away the Firewhiskey bottle from Remus’ birthday – it had their fingerprints on it, which could surely be damaging, somehow…and the coffee cup from their night on Guard duty, the night he first kissed her, the night she finally knew that he had feelings for her…

Well, she couldn’t quite think of a reason why that needed to be kept, but back in the box it went, nevertheless. Lastly, there was a pressed rose and a little note – left on her bedside table at St. Mungo’s on that wonderful night…that awful night…that night.

Come back to me, Nymphadora. I love you. Remus

When she had awakened and found that note, it seemed like everything else was right with the world. He came to see her that morning. He told her about the death of her cousin Sirius. He told her that Sirius had died laughing, fighting evil and protecting Harry, as he would have wanted. He held her while she cried. She wept for ages, but somehow, there in his arms, he made everything all right. He loved her. They had survived. At that moment, she had felt quite certain that they could survive anything…together.

Well, that was then, wasn’t it? She held the note in her hands and made to rip it. She wanted to tear it apart – it was a lie! He was gone, and she was left a shell of her former self. She allowed herself to tear it a tiny bit, and felt a rush of panic. No! She couldn’t give up hope. Tearing it would be like tearing him out of her life. She wasn’t ready. She couldn’t stop worrying about him, thinking of his well-being. As angry as she was, she wasn’t able to hate him. She kissed the note, and placed it, with the withered rose, back in the hat-box.

In the aftermath of the failed purge, she decided to pass the time by working on her wandless magic, something that she continued to practice since her lessons with Remus those many months ago. She had planned some day to dazzle him with her skills – no chance of that, now, really, but she supposed that now that she couldn’t morph any more she needed to hone her other abilities. She conjured a record player, no problem, and then managed to transfigure her wineglass into an album. Miles Davis. Since when did she like jazz? She shrugged, and placed the record on the turntable, willing it to play. The room filled with sad, strange music. She nodded to the hearth and created a blazing fire. “Damn – I’m good!” she thought to herself. Well, might as well bring out the big guns. She decided to try a major spell, and summon her Patronus.

Not that she was all that terribly fond of her Patronus. Slinky, as she had nicknamed the little chameleon, seemed a little too obvious for her. She would have liked something a little more obscure, like an emu or a capybara or something. However, a chameleon it was, and she was going to try to bring him to her, sans wand. She closed her eyes and spoke the incantation:

“Expecto Patronum.”

She felt a force like no other charge through her right arm, and there before her appeared a Patronus. As it formed, it seemed huge to her, and unlike Slinky in every way. It was beautiful. It was large and strong and ethereal. When it was fully formed, it turned to look at her, with soulful eyes and a face that seemed oddly familiar. Oh, Merlin. This Patronus was a wolf. Not only was it a wolf, but it was the wolf, the one from the tattoo on her hip. She smiled in spite of herself.

“Hey boy,” she whispered to him. “Wotcher…Moony.” He blinked, as if he understood that that was, of course, his name. Tonks continued. “You sure are beautiful. I think I’ve been waiting for you for a long time.” The wolf tilted his head and looked at her quizzically.

Tonks chuckled to herself and settled in on her sofa. As she nodded off to sleep, she spoke in hushed tones to her new Patronus. “We sure do love him, don’t we Moony? Let’s just pray that he’s all right.” She drifted off to sleep.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________


Remus Lupin lay, exhausted, under a fir tree in a dark wood. He had run wild with the wolves that night, trying his best not to betray the fact that he had taken Wolfsbane. In his effort to fit-in he had been a little too vigorous, and seemed to have pulled every muscle in his body. God, what he wouldn’t give for a massage. He chuckled to himself… that was certainly something he had never thought of before. Goodness, it would be easy to become addicted to a woman’s touch, to Nymphadora’s touch. The memory of it had been all that kept him sane these past few weeks.

He reached into his rucksack, and pulled out something small and square. From a cardboard box, he slid out a tiny canvas. He squinted in the early morning light, and made out the water colour of the full moon, painted from his room at Grimmauld Place. He thought that the real thing could not be nearly as beautiful as this painting, made with love by his little Nymph. He sighed, returned it to the box and put it away before settling down for a few hours rest.

As he always did, he drifted off to sleep thinking about her. Was she okay? Was she taking care of herself? Was she lonely? In his dreams he heard jazz, felt warmth, and saw pink hair and a bright smile that was for him alone. He saw her flirty gaze, telling him that she and the wolf would be thinking of him. He saw the tattoo, as he remembered it from that one, beautiful night they had spent together. In his dreams he felt her soul, blazing and orange, warming him from within on the coldest of nights. In his dreams, the world let him love her. In his dreams, he didn’t break her heart.

He turned on his side, and rubbed the back of his neck for a moment. His eyes fluttered open. There before him, although he was certain he was still dreaming, was a silvery, shining creature. A Patronus, he supposed. He shook his head a little, and tried to get a clearer image. My god – it was a wolf. No, he stopped himself… it was the wolf – the one from her hip. He was beautiful. Remus stared.

The wolf Patronus tilted his head and blinked. Then he walked closer to Remus, curled up next to him, and closed his eyes. Remus, drifting back to sleep and thinking he was still dreaming, found himself saying, “I love her too, boy. When you go back to her, make sure she knows that.”




Any thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think. Please leave a review. Thanks! Paloma




Chapter 12: And So This is Christmas
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Missing Moments

Chapter 12

A/N: This was positively a bear to write. I hope it works. Let me know.


And So This is Christmas

Remus Lupin sipped at his tea in a carefully-studied attempt to appear benign. There was a contrived half-smile on his lips, and he had controlled his breathing until it seemed slow, calm, and gentle. Only a careful observer would have been able to notice the storm brewing in his mind, as evidenced by the darting grey eyes and tapping fingers. There were only two people on Earth who had ever observed Remus that carefully; one had passed through the veil six months previously, and the other was far away, in a dingy second-floor flat, hating him.

Christmas with the Weasleys, as always, was a loud and hectic affair. In the sitting room after a massive and chaotic meal, there were blurs of red hair flittering everywhere. Ginny was attempting to secure bundles of mistletoe to the ceiling, unaware that Fred and George were charming them to fall down just to piss her off. Molly and Arthur were dancing some sort of drunken two-step to a scratchy warbling twang that passed for festive music on the Wireless. Harry and Ron were playing exploding snap with a deck that had been charmed to blow, with near-nuclear magnitude, at the slightest touch. In the resulting bedlam, no one seemed to notice the Professor, slumped forward in his chair, tea resting on his knee, attempting to make a choice that was tearing at his soul.

He sighed. He had nearly choked from shock more than a few times during dinner. He had been stunned to learn that Nymphadora’s Patronus had changed to a large, four-legged creature. Merlin – that wolf had been real. He had seen it on more than a few occasions. It appeared to want nothing more than to be close to him. He had thought he had dreamt it, but noted that he had slept soundly the nights when the vision appeared to him. But only a great emotional upheaval could change a person’s patronus. What did it mean?

Even more disturbing was the news that Tonks would not be spending Christmas with her family. Remus allowed himself to reminisce about the previous year, when she had been unable to spend the holiday at Grimmauld Place. She had told Sirius that her father would be heartbroken to spend Christmas without her. Remus allowed himself the tiniest of smiles. Nymphadora was nuts about her Daddy. He couldn’t imagine what would keep her from home, but he was more than a little concerned that it was somehow his fault.

Finally, he could sit no more. He borrowed Pigwidgeon, dashed off a hasty note, kissed Molly’s cheek and promised to be home shortly. She stopped him long enough to straighten his tie and said, “You’re doing the right thing.”

He wasn’t so sure, but he disapparated to Tonks’ flat nonetheless.


______________________________________________________________________________________________


As was her habit these days, Nymphadora Tonks was cleaning. It was a none-too-pretty sight, truth be told. She was on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor, in a pair of faded overalls and a greying t-shirt. Her hair was matted and sweaty, her eyes were sunken and her cheeks were hollow.

This compulsion to clean had taken her by surprise. She had always hated spaces that were too tidy. Antiseptic, she called it – it reminded her of hospitals, which she also hated. That said, she had noticed that lately the only time she could clear her mind of her troubles was when she was cleaning, and so she found herself sanitizing with psychotic fervor on a daily basis.

She was about to take on the nearly-empty ice box when she heard a knock at the door. Oh, Merlin’s balls, she thought. Carolers.

The knocking at the door persisted.

“Fuck Off!”

The knocking at the door persisted.

“If I have to hear jingle-fucking-bells another fucking time heads are gonna roll!”

The knocking at the fucking door persisted.

Tonks heaved herself from the floor and stomped to the front hallway. She undid the latch and threw open the door with blazing fury in her eyes. A fury which melted once she registered that the spectre of a man on her doorstep was Remus Lupin.




The twitching smile on Remus’ lips at Tonks’ invisible tirade vanished the moment she opened the door. He barely recognized her. She was almost frail-looking, with long, thin arms and legs. Her inability to morph had left her skin pale and her hair a mousy brown, streaked with grey. Her eyes, grey with amber flecks, mirrored his own. Gods, he found himself thinking, what have I done to her?

Remus was not the only one to register shock. Tonks stared at the gaunt and angular man before her. He had been pleased to have the chance to shower and shave at the Burrow, and Molly had been kind enough to trim his hair for him. Even so, his appearance this evening was disturbing. He was rail-thin, and had new, jagged scars covering all visible parts of his body. What was worse, the warm sparkle in his eyes was nearly gone. Tonks’ heart broke again at the sight of him. She sighed sadly before meeting his eyes to speak.

“Remus.”

“May I come in?”

Tonks seemed to consider this for a moment before throwing her door wide and allowing him to follow her into her flat. He paused and took a look around.

“The place looks…” he searched for words. “Clean.”

The expression on Tonks’ face was sardonic. “Awful, isn’t it?”

Remus shook his head. “It’s not awful , exactly.” His search continued. “It’s just…not… exactly you.” He knew that came out wrong the instant he said it.

Tonks pretended to be offended. “I’m not exactly clean, am I? Thanks loads, Lupin.” She wandlessly charmed the kettle to boil for tea. Even in all this state, it was amusing to watch him fumble.

“Merlin, Nymphadora, you know what I mean. It’s kind of…antiseptic, isn’t it? Like it isn’t even being lived in.”

“It isn’t.” Tonks crossed the room to hand him a mug of tea, and motioned for him to sit on the sofa. They sat in silence for a few moments, and his eyes wandered to the bookshelf in the kitchen. He could just make out the scene around that ridiculous pink Barbie camper he had given her for Christmas the year before. The last time he had seen it, it had displayed a rather frightening image of bondage and S&M. This time it was perhaps an even more frightening scene of domestic bliss. The Barbie and Ken dolls sat at a picnic table, holding hands, with a dog at their feet and a baby carriage at their side. Their bland, moronic smiles seemed to shock Lupin out of his reverie. What the hell was he doing here?

“What the hell are you doing here?” Tonks asked, as if reading his mind.

He sipped his tea deliberately before answering. “Molly mentioned that you weren’t spending the holidays with your family. I didn’t think that could be true, but I thought I’d better check.” He leaned closer to her. “You can’t do this to them, Nymphadora. Your father will be heartbroken.”

Tonks’ cheeks were crimson. “As much as I appreciate your concern for my father,” she managed through clenched teeth, “it’s really none of your business.”

Remus leveled her with a stare that could cut glass. “I made it my business.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“I owled them. I told them you were finished work, and that you’d be able to make it for Christmas after all. I told them I would bring you.”

Tonks was blinking so wildly it appeared that she was attempting to respond in Morse Code. Finally she hissed, “You WHAT?”

“I owled them. So, unless you want to break your Daddy’s heart on Christmas, I suggest that you start packing.”

Tonks seethed, motionless, on the sofa.

“Fine then. I’ll pack. Just imagine the delightful ensembles I’ll pick out for your stay.” He ambled off to her bedroom, pulled a kit bag from the closet, and started sifting through her things. Every few moments he called out to her, attempting to elicit a response. “Ah, look – a yellow sweater with kittens on it. A gift from your godmother on your last birthday, wasn’t it? It’s a shame I’ve never seen you in it. Won’t it be lovely for Christmas dinner?” He could have sworn he heard a grunt from the living room. He got similar responses when he suggested the grey saddle shoes and the Charles and Diana commemorative brooch. He headed to the dresser and felt a twinge of embarrassment. Before he opened it, he called to her, doing his best to sound jocular. “Honestly, Nymphadora, do you really want me picking out your knickers? I’m sure I’ll find something interesting, but I can’t promise that they’ll be too comfortable for the festive season…” He was cut off when she stormed into the room, dumped the contents of the half-packed bag on the bed and began stuffing it with jeans and t-shirts. He could have sworn there was a glint of amusement in her steely grey eyes. He forced himself not to smile, and found his way back to her sitting room.

Twenty minutes later she emerged, showered, packed and dressed. She appeared resentful but resigned, which Lupin figured was the best that he could hope for under the circumstances. Before she could argue, he grabbed her hand and apparated to the Tonks’ home. As he was about to knock on the door, she flashed him a naughty grin.

“They don’t know.”

“They don’t know what?” he asked.

“They don’t know that we’ve broken up. I never had the heart to tell them. They liked you. They never like anyone I bring home. I couldn’t get over it when Daddy called you ‘son’…” Her voice trailed off.

Remus swallowed uncomfortably. Tonks continued.

“Feel free to tell them. It will break their hearts, but I suppose it’s about time they knew.” With that, she knocked heavily on the door.

“Couldn’t you tell them now?”

Tonks shrugged. “I could, but I'm not going to. So unless you want to break my Daddy's heart on Christmas, you'll have to be my boyfriend tonight. Tough choice, I suppose.” With that the door flew open, and Ted Tonks, wild-haired, red-faced and rum-soaked, threw his arms around the two of them.

“Welcome, welcome! Thank heavens you’re here.” He called behind him. “Andromeda, love, they’re home!” He ushered them into the front hallway, holding his daughter in a one-armed hug and shaking Remus’ hand vigorously. Mrs. Tonks appeared in the threshold, blinking back tears and smiling. She hugged Nymphadora and then kissed Remus on the cheek, whispering “Thank you for this.” Neither appeared to notice the disheveled state of their guests, so delighted were they to have family with them on Christmas.

“Mr. Tonks. Mrs. Tonks. I’m afraid I can’t stay. I only came to deliver Nymphadora. Unfortunately I’m needed elsewhere.”

Ted Tonks was incredulous. “Sweet yodeling Merlin on a cracker, son! You can’t leave. You’ve brought me the best gift I’ve ever received! What would I have done without my little Nymph on Christmas? The least I can do is give you a drink!” Try as he might, Remus seemed unable to extricate himself from Ted’s bracing hug and good humor. He agreed to one drink, and was offered a substantial measure of hot buttered rum. Tonks linked arms with him and led him to sofa in the sitting room.

As one drink turned to three, Remus couldn’t help but notice Nymphadora’s unfettered amusement at his discomfort. She batted her eyes at him mercilessly, she took every opportunity to kiss his cheek, and she was now resting her hand lightly on his knee. He could feel her warmth through the thin material of his trousers, and it caused his breath to hitch. Even in her plain state, there was still something quintessentially Tonks-ish about her naughty demeanor tonight, and it was immensely attractive to him. Over it all, he couldn’t help but notice that the wild, woodsy scent that had driven him mad for over a year now was still working its magic. He wanted her terribly. He needed to do something to break the spell.

“Ted – do you fancy a game of cards?” That was all the invitation Mr. Tonks needed. He poured more drinks and they settled themselves at a small table in the corner of the sitting room.

“Are you a poker man or gin?” Ted asked.

“Gin. I’m not much of a gambler, sir.” Tonks let escape a rather sarcastic snort before crossing the room to stand behind Remus. He wasn’t getting away that easily.

“Do you need a hand, darling? I know you’re not great at cards.”

“I’ll be fine, sweetheart, ” he said, not looking up from his hand. “Why don’t you help your mother in the kitchen?”

This time both Tonks and Ted snorted noisily. “Mum doesn’t let me in the kitchen, Snugglebottom. Daddy’s not allowed in either. Silly really. All we did was burn the place down.” She grinned.

“Twice,” Ted added.

“In the same week!” Tonks and her Daddy hooted, and even Remus himself couldn’t help but allow himself a wee chuckle. He rubbed his shoulder absently, and winced. He didn’t realize that Nymphadora had noticed, but as he picked up his cards from the table, he felt small, warm hands touching that tender spot just below the nape of his neck.

“Let me get that for you, love.” There was no longer any silliness in Nymphadora’s voice.

He knew he should stop it. This was feeling less like the little game they had been playing all evening, and more like something…familiar. Something real. It was too easy to have fun with Nymphadora. It was too easy to be charmed by her. It was far too easy to love her. But before he could form the coherent thought that would remove him from the situation, he was astonished to hear himself whisper “Could you do that a bit harder?” In seconds the ache had left his shoulder, and the stress of these past few months living underground seemed to melt away. She had always been able to do that – to make things better with the simplest of words or gestures or touches.

Damn! This felt so real. He loved her. He loved this family. He loved this life. He needed to get away before he convinced himself that he deserved this…this…perfection. He purposely lost miserably at gin, and then begged off, explaining that he was expected back at the Burrow and that Molly would be waiting up. He accepted warm hugs from both Ted and Andromeda, and then Tonks walked him to the door. The smile on her face was pure wickedness.

“You deserved every bit of that tonight, you know.” She gave him a playful, but very unexpected smack on the ass.

“Tonks! -” he was about to chastise her when he noticed something about her face. Her eyes – they had changed. He wordlessly turned her towards the hall mirror and she saw it for herself. Her eyes were suddenly a vivid, twinkling violet. She beamed at his reflection behind her in the mirror. She reached up and covered his hand that was hovering on her shoulder with her own.

“Even if it only lasts a few seconds, this is a great gift, Moony.” Her eyes shone. “I feel like myself again. Thank you.” Remus nodded and smiled, savouring the warmth of this touch that might very well be her last.

“Oh – and by the way,” she added, “in case you didn’t figure it out, your gift was that I didn’t tear you a new one when you showed up at my flat.”

“I appreciate that. Thank you.” His chuckle was warm and genuine.

She turned, and without a moment’s hesitation brushed his lips with a quick, soft kiss. Then she enveloped him in a hug that was not sexy, not passionate… just…real. Her heart beat wildly as she whispered in his ear, “I will always love you, Remus. I wish I could have…this…forever.”

He pulled away and put his forehead on her own. He had to leave now or he never would. “I’m sorry” he said, and he braved a look into her eyes. As he watched, they changed back to a warm, sad grey, and filled with tears.

As he stumbled out of the Tonks’ home and disapparated into the the night, his own grey eyes welled up. He wiped away a single tear before returning to the Burrow, to his cold, loveless life. The remains of his life without Nymphadora.






(A/N: You may have noticed that I left a number of things unsaid here. For example, Remus and Tonks don't really discuss their feelings, nor do they discuss what life has been like for them these past few months. In a sense, it's written all over their faces, isn't it? Remus also doesn't mention the Patronus at all - he did at one stage, but the conversation seemed too familiar for this awkward position that they're in right now, so I edited it out. (I like that what remains is sort of familiar, but sort of awkward as well - they love each other, but aren't really together - it's a pretty strange dynamic, really.) Also, I had a fun description of the Tonks' sitting room, but it seemed extraneous and my word-count was getting massive, so I edited that out as well. You would have liked it, I think. Andromeda had attempted to decorate with a cool and classic hand, but got vetoed at every turn by Nymphadora and Ted. The result was that the walls were a simple, elegant beige, but they were covered with tacked-up sombreros and "Merlin on Velvet" portraits, a take on "Elvis on Velvet". In Remus' eyes, the result was comfortable and terribly amusing - which appears to also be his response to the Tonks family in general.)


(I’m a little skittish about this one – reviews would be scrumptious!! Paloma)












































Chapter 13: Friends in Low Places
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Chapter 13

I own nothing. Thanks to JKR. (Go raibh míle maith agat a Jess, chomh maith. Is brea liom é sin á dhéanamh!) Thanks (and apologies) to Garth Brooks for the title, of course.


Friends in Low Places

Nymphadora Tonks did her best to hurry through the thick, dark forest in the early June mist. Her wand tip illuminated her way and saved her from the majority of tree roots and fallen branches that threatened to trip her at every turn. The few times that she did fall, she was able to scramble back to her feet before a rather gorgeous silvery whisper of a wolf could hover over her, his eyes filled with concern. Each time she had brushed herself off, and uttered a quick “I’m fine, Moony, love. Go on,” before continuing on her treacherous path. The Patronus moved quickly, thank heavens – they were running out of time.

She had been surprised that morning to find Dumbledore at her favorite table in the Three Broomsticks, where she had headed for a bite of breakfast. He had not been in much contact with her of late, and in fact seemed to be keeping to himself moreso than ever. She nodded to him and made to plunk down elsewhere, but he motioned for her to sit with him.

“Good morning, Nymphadora. It’s good to see you.”

“Professor.” Her voice was more curt than she had intended it to be. She hadn’t been happy with Dumbledore for allowing Remus to take on his dangerous mission underground with the werewolves, and was less pleased that the Headmaster had not been forthcoming with information about Lupin’s health and safety. Even so, this was a man who, for many reasons, deserved her respect.

“Do join me.” He pointed to a basket of scones and a tea service set for two.

“You seem to be waiting for someone. I wouldn’t want to interrupt.”

“Oh, I assure you, Miss Tonks, you are not interrupting anything. It’s strawberry jam for your scone, is it not?” Tonks gave him a quizzical look– how the hell did he know that? She seated herself across from him.

They ate in silence for what seemed like ages. Any anger that Tonks had held towards the Headmaster seemed to melt in his presence. He looked… frail, she decided. He had never seemed like anything other than an incredibly powerful wizard to her, but today, with the morning sun’s rays catching the exhaustion in his eyes and lines in his face, he seemed old. Old and tired.

A sense of understanding dawned on her. So much rested on his shoulders. So much of the wizarding world relied on him for leadership and guidance. So many young lives were held in the balance of this war they were waging. She was certain that he was feeling the gravity his role as protector. She offered her first genuine smile of the day, and reached to cover his good hand with her small, warm one.

“What can I do for you, sir?”

“Well, Nymphadora, I’m glad you asked.” Dumbledore’s eyes sparkled, and it was clear from his tone of voice that he understood himself to be forgiven. “I need your help. I have to be away from the castle for a time this evening, and I was wondering if you could do a few hours of extra patrol.”

“Of course. I’d be happy to.”

“Ah – but I’m afraid there’s more to the job. I’m concerned that there be enough reinforcements, so I was hoping that you help me in that regard, also.”

“I’ll see what I can do, sir. Kingsley may be able to be spared, and I might be able to find Dung in time, and - ”

“Actually, Nymphadora, I was hoping that you could bring Remus on duty with you.”

Tonks swallowed hard before answering. “I don’t know where he is, sir. Even if I did, I have the sense that he doesn’t want to see me. I haven't seen him in months. We, ah, had been dating, but we’ve broken up.” If her cheeks were as red as they felt, she was certain that she could glow in the dark. She avoided the Headmaster’s gaze.

“You don’t say?” He cocked one eyebrow in a manner that must have been quite charming when he was younger, but was quite alarming on a wizard in his late hundreds. Tonks squirmed uncomfortably.

“Well, Nymphadora, I’m given to understand that your new Patronus should be able to find our dear Professor Lupin.”

Huh? “What makes you say that, sir?”

“Well, he has been keeping him company during the past few full moons. Curls up next to him and falls asleep. Remus has mentioned that it has been a great source of comfort to him that you have sending your Patronus along for visits.”

Tonks seemed stunned for a moment. “But I haven’t, sir! I had no idea. I tend to summon Moony myself for company on occasion.”

“Moony? Indeed.”

“Yes sir. My Patronus has changed to the shape of a werewolf, so it seemed fitting…” Again with the crippling embarrassment.

“Go on.”

“Well, I do often summon him on the night of the full moon, when I happen to be particularly concerned about Remus…but why would my Patronus go to protect someone else?”

Dumbledore offered a small smile. “My guess is that your Patronus understands that you will not feel safe while Remus is alone and in danger. It considers bringing a measure of comfort to the one you love as a means of protecting you, I suspect. It’s lovely, really.” He paused, and his mind seemed to wander for a moment. “Whatever the reason, it is very useful. If you follow your Patronus, you should be able to find Remus and bring him back for duty this evening.”

“I will, sir.” Tonks was still reeling from the news that Moony had been seeing to Remus. She had never heard of such a thing.

“Nymphadora – Remus has been living with very little these past few months. You might be surprised by the state of him.” Tonks nodded. “He really needs your friendship right now. I know you love him dearly. He loves you too – of that I am certain. I am also certain that your time together will come. However, right now, I have the sense that Remus needs, more than anything, to feel that he has a friend in the world who cares for him. And I think you could be that friend.” Tonks nodded. “Oh – and Miss Tonks – you might want to run home and get your warm cloak. I believe it may be cooler where Remus is living right now.” With that, Dumbledore stood, offered a polite bow, and turned to leave. He seemed to think better of himself, though, and turned around to face Tonks once more. “Nymphadora?”

“Yes sir?”

“If Remus ever wanted to name a child ‘Albus’, you’d put a stop to that, wouldn’t you?”

The absurdity of the question made Tonks laugh out loud.

“I can’t imagine that I’d have much say in the matter, sir.” She chuckled to herself.

“Even so – as a friend, would you try to dissuade him? It would be my wish.”

Tonks crossed the room and offered the Headmaster a quick kiss on the cheek. “I promise to try, Sir. Best of luck tonight.” And with that, Dumbledore turned and left.


Tonks drew her cloak around her, thankful for the grandfatherly advice to wear something heavy. It was indeed quite cool, and nothing like the spring weather that had been warming Hogsmeade for the past few weeks. She scurried deeper into the forest, wondering how much further they could possibly have to go. They were miles in at this stage – where could Remus be? As if to answer her thought, Moony stopped in front of a strange-looking makeshift hut of tree limbs and mosses. To its left was a fire pit that was still smoking – someone had been here recently. Tonks bent a little at the waist, and moved inside.

A flick of her wand revealed the simple room. She could barely stand at her full height, which meant that Remus, who was at least a foot taller than she, would be very uncomfortable moving around at all. There was a bed roll to one side, a few candles on a low stump that was being used as a table, and a number of well-worn books, as well as the small painting of the full moon that she had given him. She smiled to herself. That was all it would take to keep him happy, really. She was just bending down to see what he had been reading when she heard a noise outside. She peered around the threshold, only to see Remus approaching.

She was thankful to have this moment to adjust to the sight of him. His appearance was heartbreaking. He was thin and terribly gaunt, and his pale skin seemed to glow. His hair was long and bedraggled, as was his beard. His eyes were dim, but seemed to light up at the sight of something in the distance. Moony.

“Hello, boy!” he called out to the Patronus. “It’s a bit early for you, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to see you.” The silvery wolf came out of the shadows and tilted his head, blinking in the direction of Remus’ hand.

“Ah – sorry about that. Supper musn’t look too appealing, hey boy? Still – I was happy to get it. It’s not often I can get ahold of a rabbit.” He held up the bloodied, rather unappetizing-looking rodent.

Tonks caught her breath. It was all she could do not to cry. She had had no idea how difficult things had been for Remus these past few months. This was atrocious. How could the most civilized man she’d ever known be reduced to living like this? It was too heartbreaking to fathom. She blinked back the tears that were forming, just in time. Moony tilted his head towards the door of the hut. Remus jumped back a little at the sight of her, and the rabbit dropped from his hands.

She smiled warmly. “Hello, friend. Nice place you’ve got here.”

“T-Tonks. What are you doing here?” Remus seemed suddenly quite mortified by his surroundings.

“Dumbledore needs you for duty at Hogwarts tonight. He figured my new Patronus here could find you. That was news to me. I had no idea that you and Moony were such great friends.”

Remus looked confused. “You mean you didn’t send him?”

“Nope. He found you on his own. I’m glad he did, though. I think you needed him more than I did.”

“I did. Thanks. Moony, eh?” Tonks nodded. “Well, that seems about right.” He motioned to his little home. “What do you think of the Palace?”

“I think it needs a woman’s touch. Maybe some wallpaper to spruce it up. Hmmm – and some windowboxes, perhaps?”

Remus smiled. “That would necessitate windows, Tonks.”

“So it would.” She offered him her friendliest wink before continuing. “Come one. We’ll go to my place and get you cleaned up before duty. You can have a shower and everything. I won’t even peek – I promise!”

Remus chuckled and shook his head. Before he could consider her offer, she had grabbed his hand and apparated back to her flat.

______________________________________________________________________________________________


Remus was hovering between embarrassment and delight. It was certainly a thrill to be out of the woods and in the warmth of Tonks’ flat, but he was mortified by the filthy and ragged state of himself, and more than a little concerned about what Tonks might be expecting of him, now that they were in close quarters. She had been acting quite strangely with him, though - friendly without being too forward or suggestive. He felt both elated and a bit sad at the thought that she may have found someone new. That would explain her pleasant demeanor and non-threatening behavior. Even so, it felt good to have a friend in the world right now.

As she rummaged through her linen closet for towels, he sauntered over to the shelf in the kitchen that held the now-infamous Barbie camper. This time, Barbie and her man were sitting next to each other, legs dangling over the edge of the shelf, in hip-waders and holding fishing poles. Huh? What the hell?

“Here - ” She strolled into the room and handed him some towels “The loo’s down that hall and to the left. Leave your clothes outside the door and I’ll clean them up.”

Remus considered this for a moment. “I wouldn’t want to put you to any trouble.”

“Don’t be so foolish. You may as well put on clean clothes after your shower. Oh, and I’ll cook us up some supper, too.” Remus looked nervous, recalling a batch of sugar cookies accidentally baked with salt that even he in all his politeness, couldn’t choke down.

“Are you kidding me? You were about to chow down on mutilated rodent, but you balk at the thought of my cooking?! I’m hurt, Lupin – really hurt.” Tonks folded her arms and tapped her foot, while Remus shuffled uncomfortably.

“It’s not that, Tonks, really. I just really don’t want you to go to any trouble.”

“You are SO transparent, sir. What if I told you that I have leftovers from Molly in the icebox, just waiting to be heated up?”

At the thought of Molly Weasley’s cooking, Remus’ stomach gave a rather violent growl.

“Ah – that seems to have done the trick. Well then – go get cleaned up, and I’ll re-heat supper, since that’s all you’re willing to accept from me.” With that Tonks shooed him off towards the loo.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Remus turned the tap to scalding hot and allowed the spray and steam to surround him. God – it had been ages since he had felt this relaxed. He reached for the soap Tonks had left for him, and stopped suddenly. As he inhaled the scent of the soap in the water, he sensed something wild and woodsy. Ah – so this was it. It brought back fleeting memories of drinks shared and quiet moments together and stolen kisses and long, soft limbs splayed on his bed and –

“Hey Tonks,” he called out, “What kind of soap is this?”

“It’s Patchouli. If you don’t like it, there’s probably some regular stuff in the cabinet above the sink.”

“No, no, it’s fine. Just unusual.” He inhaled deeply again.

“I know. People either like it or they hate it – there doesn’t seem to be much in-between with Patchouli. Did you know that for some people it’s an aphrodisiac?”

“You don’t say.” Remus dared not tell her that the sense memory of that scent, and all that it meant to him, was the only thing keeping him sane during these past few months of hell.



Warm, dry, shaved and dressed in a rather gaudy kimono, Remus sat down to a supper of roast beef, potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. Tonks sensed that he was starving, and attempting to eat slowly out of politeness, so she started eating like a fiend herself.

“Cripes, Lupin – there’s no time to stand on ceremony. We have duty in half an hour. Eat up, for god’s sake.” She gave him a sly grin. “If you don’t hurry, you won’t have time for dessert.” Remus raised an eyebrow, and Tonks continued. “I have pumpkin pie, and a big bar of chocolate.” At the thought of his favorite treats, Remus started shoveling food into himself like a teenager. Tonks chuckled at the sight of him. He looked ridiculous and gorgeous all at once. As much as she might have wanted to jump him, she was happier just to see him properly cared for. Maybe Dumbledore was right. Maybe she could be Remus’ friend. She was damned well going to try.

After they finished their pudding and tea, Remus got dressed in his freshly-laundered clothes, and was about to head for the door. He was stopped by Tonks, brandishing a rather menacing looking pair of shears.

“One more thing, Lupin.” He swallowed hard. “That hair. It’s ridiculous. Let me trim it for you.” Remus stared at her through a fringe that was reaching his long nose, and shrugged. “That’s probably a good idea. As long as you’re quick.” Tonks nodded and pushed him into a chair.

Remus tried his best not to look skittish as Tonks flitted around his head with sharp scissors. Tonks tried her best not to take too much delight in the blissful domesticity of the scene. She managed to shorten the back of his hair quite reasonably, and then moved in front of him to attack the fringe. “Sit still, Remus,” she ordered, and then settled into his lap, biting her lip in concentration as she snipped away at the wall of sandy hair that was hiding his eyes. She was too short, though, and her legs barely made it to the floor. She faltered a little and Remus grabbed her by the hips to steady her – it was that or be accidentally stabbed, he reasoned. She did a good job of focusing on her breathing as well as the task at hand, and managed to keep herself from being overwhelmed by this fine-smelling man whose lap she had invaded, who now had a warm, firm grip on her waist. She was holding up well until a final snip of the lengthened fringe revealed all – grey eyes, flecked with amber, staring at her with a warmth and curiosity that stripped her to the essence of her soul.

She jumped up.

“Well, my friend, we ought to head off to duty. Shall we?” She handed him his cloak.

Before she could apparate to the relative safety of the gates of Hogwarts, he grabbed her hand.

“Thank you for seeing to me, Tonks. It’s been ages since I’ve felt this good.”

Tonks attempted to be flippant, but her response was sincere. “What are friends for?”

Remus nodded. “Shall we go together, then?”

She gave him a genuine smile and a nod before they apparated to their duty, blissfully unaware of the evening that was to befall them.






I’d appreciate any reviews you might wish to leave. Thanks. Paloma

Chapter 14: A Little More Love in the World
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Chapter 14

This brings me to the end of HBP in my story. There will be an epilogue to follow. Thank you so much to my loyal readers and reviewers, and to JKR, who owns it all.

A Little More Love in the World


Remus Lupin was having much more fun than he really deserved. Granted, anything would have been better than spending the evening eating shredded rabbit in the freezing werewolf den, but patrolling the halls of Hogwarts with Tonks was a particularly enjoyable experience. He told her stories of his Marauder days, and she listed a few pranks of her own, many of which, he was sure, had kept her squarely out of the ranks of Prefect-dom.

“You put cat-nip in Minerva’s tea?” Remus chuckled as he rounded a corner with his wand at the ready.

“Yup.” Tonks’ grin was as wide as all outdoors. “Then I let a snitch go in the Transfiguration classroom, and she chased it for an hour and a half. She even caught it in her teeth once or twice, and let it go so she could chase it some more. Meanwhile the rest of us laughed our arses off. I got three months detention for that one!” She seemed to beam with pride.

“You’re a madwoman, Tonks.”

“Indeed. You aren’t too freaking sane yourself - OUCH! What was THAT for?” She jumped about three feet in the air and grabbed her behind.

“Pardon?”

“I can’t believe you pinched my ass!”

“PARDON?!”

“Geez, Lupin, if you asked nicely I’d produce it for you – there’s really no need to grab.” She blushed a little and continued to rub her left cheek. Lupin, who had managed to turn a rather violent shade of puce, took a shaky breath before speaking.

“Tonks – I didn’t touch you, I swear. I would never…” He was unable to finish, as Tonks began to convulse with laughter. In his confusion he thought that she might have been hit by a curse, and was about to examine her, when the source of the unwanted advance made his appearance.

“Loopy, Loony Lupin! You keeps your paws off my Nymphie, do you hear?”

Remus rolled his eyes and gave a shudder. Peeves. Cripes. “Go away.”

“No! Not while Nymphie’s in danger. Peeves sees the way you looks at her! You stay away from her, Loony Lupin!”

Tonks had finally stopped laughing enough to intervene. “Peeves has a bit of a crush on me,” she whispered to Remus. “Oh Peeves – don’t worry. Loony Lupin will never replace you in my heart! Here…” she indicated her cheek, “give us a kiss.” Peeves made a noise like a drain gurgling and then leaned in to Nymphadora, bypassing her cheek entirely and leaving a kiss with a resounding smack somewhere in the vicinity of her frontal lobe. She shuddered uncomfortably, but managed to make it appear to be a girlish giggle, so as not to hurt the poltergeist’s feelings. Then she pointed to her companion.

“Remus gets a kiss too, Peeves – just to prove to me that you’ve made up.” Remus began to shake his head, but before he could protect himself, Peeves had come within an inch of his face, lips puckered and ready for some lovin’. Lupin winced as, at the last second, the ghostly creature blew a raspberry in his face and flew away, laughing like a lunatic. Remus wiped at his cheek boyishly and spoke to his companion.

“Peeves likes you. I’ve never really known him to like anyone.”

“Well – we have a shared sense of mischief, I suppose. He tried to sabotage most of my relationships while I was in school. Even succeeded a few times. I should thank him, really – most of the boys turned out to be great prats – I was much better off without them.” She seemed lost in her memories.

“Did you date much at Hogwarts, Tonks?”

“Nah – the odd fella here and there. No great love of my life, though. You?”

“Not really. I couldn’t, you know? I couldn’t really risk letting a girl know of my condition, and then telling the world. Dumbledore was kind enough to let me attend the school, and I didn’t want to betray that trust. I tried my best to work hard and keep a low profile – not the easiest thing to do when you’re friends with James and Sirius, mind you.”

“I can imagine. You know, you still do that,” Tonks said, warily.

“Do what?”

“Work hard and keep a low profile.”

Remus smiled. “I suppose I do. It’s my nature, maybe. Plus, I owe it to Dumbledore to do the best work I can for the Order. That wouldn’t be possible if I was always drawing attention to myself.” He shrugged, and walked slightly ahead to check around a corner as they continued patrolling.

“I think you’re dashing, Remus.”

He stopped and turned to face her, blushing again. “I know you do. It means the world to me, Tonks.” He looked into her eyes. There was something so uncomplicated about the way they chatted with each other, their ease with each other, even the astonishing attraction they had for each other. It would be the simplest thing in the world to walk to her, take her into his arms and kiss those sweet lips. It would be so easy to hold her, to touch her, to take his place in the blazing orange of her soul. He was certain that the unbearable tightness in his heart would melt away the moment that he did.

But, as always, he stopped himself, turned away, and kept walking. Then he took another stab at idle chatter.

“So…Tonks…what’s up with the Barbie? She’s gone fishing, has she?” His eyes twinkled as he looked over his shoulder and watched her catch up.

“Yup. She and Ken are trying to be friends.”

“And how’s that going?”

Tonks shrugged. “Ah well, you know. Male/Female relationships can be tough. Barbie’s trying her best, but she can’t resist the urge to occasionally check out Ken’s ass.”

“That’s no great concern, Tonks. What’s a little harmless leering between friends, right?” As if to prove his point, he slowly looked her up and down, and then raised an eyebrow and gave her an approving nod. She shook her had, chuckling, and gave him a light punch on the arm. Hell, if friendship was all Remus could give, she decided, it was better than nothing.

They continued patrolling the halls for another hour without incident. Then, suddenly, they heard screaming and saw Ron, Ginny and Neville running towards them. All three were screaming at once, with Neville’s face almost as red as the Weasley siblings’ hair.

Remus held up a hand, and they all became quiet.

“Neville – we can’t understand you. Please explain what’s happening.”

Neville breathed heavily before answering. “Malfoy, sir. He was in the Room of Requirement. Everything went dark. He let in the Death Eaters!”

Tonks jumped in. “Which way were they heading?”

“In the direction of the Astronomy Tower.” They all ran off, into the fight of their lives.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Later that night, after the fighting had ended, Lupin and Tonks levitated Bill, who had been injured badly by Greyback in his human form, to the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey did her best to see to him, although not certain as to the extent of his injuries, and deferring to Remus on the nature of the wounds themselves.

Moments later Luna, Ron and Hermione entered with Neville, who was bloodied and battered. Madam Pomfrey, however, declared that he would be fine after some rest in the Hospital wing. Ron did his best to be brave, not only in the face of his injured friend, but also at the sight of his mutilated brother. Even so, Lupin could see him blinking back tears, and gave him a reassuring squeeze around the shoulders.

Harry and Ginny then entered, and Lupin could see that there was something very wrong. Even at the realization that none of his friends had perished in the fight, there was still a tightness to Harry’s jaw that was uncharacteristic. He was staring at the boy when he heard Ginny speaking to her brother.

“Ron – Dumbledore’s dead.”

“No!” Lupin looked to Harry, with the question tearing through the unshed tears in his eyes. When Harry didn’t contradict the young witch, all was lost. Lupin fell into a chair, buried his face in his hands, and felt himself consumed by an emptiness that hollowed him to his very essence. Dumbledore…gone? The man who had shown him great kindness and affection his entire life…gone? The greatest wizard of the age…dead? Wracked with sobs, he did his best to hear the remainder of the story. Could it be true? Snape? Dumbledore had trusted him! Even Lupin himself had trusted him – against his better judgment, because Dumbledore’s belief in the bastard had been so unflinching. They had always known Snape was an accomplished Occlumens – but enough to betray Dumbledore? It didn’t seem possible.

Limp with sadness, Lupin sat and cried as the phoenix song filled the hospital wing with a tragic lament. As they tried to work out the details of what had happened in the confusion of the evening, he did his best to comfort the children, all of whom were blaming themselves for this tremendous loss. None of them were to blame.

Molly, Arthur and Fleur came in to see Bill, and the story was re-told. Remus tried to assuage their concerns, explaining that it was unlikely that Bill would be a full werewolf, but would perhaps be somewhat contaminated. It seemed to him that Molly, the Great Mother, would happily have taken the attack herself. Strangely enough, it looked like Bill’s pretty fiancée would have also. He couldn’t help a little smile. He looked up to see the two women hugging. He was shaken from his reverie by the blazing eyes of Nymphadora Tonks, who seemed to have awakened from a great stupor.

“You see! She still wants to marry him, even though he’s been bitten! She doesn’t care!”

Lupin stared, stunned for a moment, before speaking. What was she on about? Didn't she want to be just friends? “It’s different,” Lupin managed to choke out. “Bill will not be a full werewolf. The cases are completely - ” He was cut-off by a now-fuming Tonks, grabbing his lapels and forcing him to look into the grey depths of her eyes. What he saw there was frighteningly intense.

“But I don’t care, either, I don’t care! I’ve told you a million times…”

He couldn’t look at her. He couldn’t betray his feelings for her. None of this made sense at this moment, none of this was right. “And I’ve told you a million times that I am too old for you, too poor…too dangerous…”

Molly chimed-in. “I’ve said all along you’re taking a ridiculous line on this, Remus.”

He shook his head. “I am not being ridiculous. Tonks deserves somebody young and whole.”

“But she wants you,” Arthur said, smiling sadly. “And, after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so.” Both men looked at Bill’s torn and tattered face.

“This is…not the moment to discuss it. Dumbledore is dead…”

Minerva’s voice broke as she spoke. “Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world.” As he sank back into his chair, head in hands, he was only half aware of the others speaking with Hagrid and then leaving to discuss the future of the school. He didn’t see Tonks slip out at all.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Remus Lupin hadn’t cried since he was a child. In a sense, it felt good to let it all out: his grief for Dumbledore, his loss of James and Sirius, his sadness at the death of his parents, even his anger at Peter and Snape. He thought of Harry, who had suffered such tremendous loss over the years, and he realized that he would have to be strong for the boy. He would have to be more of a presence in the boy’s life. He knew then that he would not be returning to the werewolf den, and was surprised that that knowledge didn’t make him any happier – he would have been thrilled to return if it meant that Dumbledore was in the world a little longer. He knew even Nymphadora wouldn’t argue with that.

Nymphadora.

She still loved him. She still wanted him. It really didn’t make any sense to him at all. She was young and beautiful and full of life. He was old and poor and dangerous. He had thought that the year living apart would allow her to forget him, but it hadn’t. Heavens – it seemed to have nearly torn her to pieces. It hadn’t been kind to him, either. No amount of self denial seemed to purge her from his soul. So many times had had been near-starving and wracked with pain, and the thought of her still made him smile. He rubbed the back of his neck absentmindedly. Even now, in all his grief, the thought of her made him happy.

As if reading his mind, Madam Pomfrey nodded towards the north-facing window. “She’s walking towards the gates.” Remus jumped up and kissed her cheek. “Thanks, Poppy.” He ran, with surprising agility, down the stairs and onto the grounds of Hogwarts.

When he found her, she was sitting on a bench near the gates, crying softly.

“Nymphadora.”

She gave a start at the sound of her name. He seated himself next to her and took her hand. “I’m so sorry, Nymphadora.” At that she jumped up, eyes blazing, and stood squarely in front of him.

You’re sorry?! Are you kidding?! What do you have to be sorry about?! I made a goddamned scene in there in front of your friends and colleagues. What the hell was I thinking?! This isn’t about me! Dumbledore is dead!” She winced at the harshness of her words, and when she spoke again it was in a gentler tone. “I’m so sorry, Remus. I’ve spent so much time trying to convince you that you are good enough for me that I’ve totally missed the point: I’m not good enough for you. I’m stupid…I’m impulsive…I’m self-centered. You are the most brilliant, thoughtful, giving man in the world – how could I have thought that I deserved you? I’m so sorry.” Remus watched in confusion as she reached her hand to stroke his cheek before she spoke again. “And I’m very sorry for your loss.” She turned and made her way towards the heavy iron gate.

He knew he could let her go. This was her decision, and maybe it was a wise one. For many reasons they were a strange pair. For many reasons it seemed crazy to have a personal life during such difficult times. For many reasons it was logical for them to stay apart. There was only one good reason to catch her.

In a heartbeat he was behind her.

“Nymphadora.”

She stopped, but didn’t turn around.

“Nymphadora, please.” He tugged at her elbow, gently. When she turned to him her eyes, welled with tears, had changed. He looked more closely to make sure. No, this was no trick of the moonlight – her eyes were…blue. She was herself again. His heart soared. “I...neither of us are perfect, Tonks, but I...I don’t want to be alone anymore.” He took a step closer to her, and raised a gentle, scarred hand to her cheek. When her blue eyes met his, they were filled with challenge and promise and pure joy.

His face was only a breath away from hers now. She radiated warmth and light. He could do it – he could make a choice that would bring him happiness. All he needed to do was say the words.

“I love you, Nymphadora.”

With that, he tilted his head just a fraction and she was there, her warm mouth quivering at the sensation of his touch. She seemed almost shy as she placed her hands on his chest and leaned in closer. On her lips he tasted all the gentle sweetness she had to give. The feeling was so achingly beautiful it was almost more than he could bear. And, as he had guessed, the tightness in his chest melted away at her touch. It was perfect.

Eventually he pulled away, slowly, and put his arm around her. They began to saunter towards the gates.

After a moment, Tonks seemed finally able to speak. "Merlin, you smell good."

"Ah - it's Patchouli. Would you believe some people consider it an aphrodisiac?"

Tonks pressed closer to him and inhaled deeply. "Mmmm. You don't say." Her eyes told him the scent was working its magic on her as well.

“Did you know your eyes were blue?” he asked, offering a grin.

Tonks nodded.

“Do you think you can morph again?”

She nodded again, and then asked “Any requests?”

Remus thought for a moment about the adorable little nymph who had had a hold on his heart for nearly two years, now. He thought about the tingling sensation that he felt in her presence, and the sense of emptiness that he felt when they were apart. He was almost timid as he stared into the eyes of the young woman who was suddenly his…forever.

“Ah, love, you know what I like.”

And as they held hands to apparate to Tonks’ flat, he watched as her hair shortened to an adorable pixie-ish length, and changed from mousy brown to vivid, vibrant pink.




Well folks, that’s the story up until the end of HBP. There is an epilogue, which will follow next week, and which I hope you will enjoy. Please leave a review if you are so inclined. Thank you for your support!!!! Paloma




Chapter 15: Epilogue
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Epilogue

A/N: A special “Thank You” goes out to each of the following, for being there since the beginning and being so encouraging: Jen, for assistance and guidance, Claire, for VERY lengthy, newsy reviews, Keira-lee for her astounding use of ellipsis and exclamation marks, Eleen for making me laugh out loud with every review, Bethany for her constant encouragement, Katieweasley for death threats that forced me to continue working (LOL), Jess, for being a wonderful sounding board, in both English and Irish, Anastasia for her banner, as well as the two-hour tutorial to get this technophobe to the point where she could upload it, and Alaska Steele, Amcelle, Kirley_Duke, Kreacher_feature, Siriusdoll, Anastacia, Purplepygmypuff, Mirime, Elena, gabzi27, Estephania, Nephele de Tourmalin and Siriuslymissed for consistent reads and reviews. Thank you to all of my other readers as well – I have really enjoyed writing this little story, and it means the world to me that you have taken the time to read it. And thank you to JKR, of course.



Remus Lupin rolled over in his bed, and was surprised to find himself alone. In the years since he had inherited the cottage, he had very rarely awakened alone. In fact, only one other morning did Nymphadora manage to get up before he did, and that was just because she was quite violently hung over and thought she might die without a cup of tea.

She was certainly not hung over today. He smiled to himself. He knew she was excited, but she must have been all a twitter to have roused herself this early – Nymphadora was not a morning person.

He stretched and looked around the cozy little bedroom. Tonks had painted the walls 19 different colours before choosing this calming pale blue. He had been certain that this had been the seventh colour and that she had vetoed it after a week, but she insisted that wasn’t the case. He didn’t much care. Coming home to a wee cottage that changed colours weekly was one of the many pleasures of living with Nymphadora Tonks.

Strangely enough, they had never actually acknowledged that they were living together. He had inherited the little place on the outskirts of Hogsmeade from Dumbledore, and she had stayed with him nearly every night for the past two years. Even so, she maintained her flat in London, and went over once in a while to dust and pay her rent. He wasn’t exactly sure why she kept it, but he supposed it allowed her a measure of independence. At some stage he hoped that she would give it up, but for now, he just saw it as another of her little quirks which he adored so much. Plus, it was very convenient to have a place to crash when they were in London.

He picked up a book from his bedside table and walked toward the far wall. The entire wall was bookshelves, stocked with his books, Sirius’ books, Dumbledore’s books…

Dumbledore.

It had been very kind of him to think of Remus in his will. The cottage was small and quaint, with a few features that were suspiciously suitable to his situation. There was a small pantry in the basement, stocked with all of the necessary ingredients for brewing several lifetimes worth of Wolfsbane potion. Beyond that was the cellar, which was warm, sound-proof and impenetrable. Remus spent his full moons there in relative comfort, secure in the knowledge that Tonks would be waiting for him in the morning.

Dumbledore had also left him a sum of money that was tidy by any man’s standards, but to a man who had lived as frugally as Remus, was a fortune.

But most importantly, Dumbledore had left Remus work. There was a volume on werewolf relations in Europe that the Headmaster had been researching for over a decade. It wasn’t half finished, and he requested in his will that Remus take up the challenge to complete the book. Take it up he did. Remus worked at least nine hours a day on the project, and traveled quite regularly to research his subjects. Tonks begged him to slow down. Employment made him positively jolly, and at this rate he would be finished the book inside of a year.

He chuckled as he pulled on his trousers. No work today. Well, none of that sort, in any case. He heard a sing-song voice call from the kitchen.

“Are you awake, love?”

“Yes.”

“Well, hurry up and get dressed! They’ll be here any minute! I’ve been cleaning for ages.”

Remus rolled his eyes. Only when Tonks was really nervous did she tidy. Most of the time she was decidedly untidy, and was astounded by his own neatness. Once in a while she would test him, by moving a single book out of place on one of the shelves and timing how long it took for him to notice. It never took more than a day for it to be returned to its rightful spot. It drove her quite mad.

And so it seemed strange to step into their sitting room and find it positively sparkling. He cast a sidelong glance into the kitchen and caught sight of Nymphadora, looking tremendously cute in a t-shirt and jeans, her hair in pale pink curls. When she turned to face him, he noticed something else. She was wearing a frilly, flowery apron. Now where did she get that? He sauntered over to her, hands plunged deep in his pockets, and placed a quick kiss on her cheek.

“Sweet yodeling Merlin on a cracker!” He grinned at her, doing a credible impression of her father. “Lovely apron, Miss Tonks. You sure do clean up nice. I adore this domestic look.”

“Don’t tease, you. I’m trying to make a good impression.”

“On a six month old? I doubt that she’ll notice. As for Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, I don’t imagine that you could impress them more than you already have.” His smile was genuine. Tonks had fought bravely with Harry, Ron, Hermione and himself, in order to vanquish Voldemort. She was one of the reasons that the wizarding world was now safe, and he was proud of her.

A little more than a year ago, Harry had destroyed all of the remaining Horcruxes and then killed Voldemort. It was a time of great celebration, and very shortly afterwards, Ron and Hermione married. Remus joked that approximately 43 seconds after officially becoming a Weasley, Hermione was pregnant. Nine months later Katie, with her father’s colouring and her mother’s pretty face and lovely curls, was born.

And today he and Tonks were going to take care of her.

He was a little nervous. He had always liked babies, but the last one he’d actually held was Harry. He was also skittish because Nymphadora had never really overcome her clumsy phase, and he had visions of the poor wee one being dropped on her pretty red head. Tonks had assured him repeatedly that she was “good with kids.” He could only hope.

Before he could get himself any more worked up, there was a knock at the door.

“They’re here!!” Tonks practically bounded to the front hall, tripping a little on the carpet before reaching her destination. Remus winced a little.

“Not a word out of you, Lupin,” she warned. “Trust me – I’m good with kids.” Then she opened the door to a very eager looking Ron, holding a chubby redheaded girl dressed all in green. The baby squealed at the sight of Tonks and held her arms out. Tonks grabbed her and Katie immediately stuffed her mouth with fistfuls of pink hair. Blinded by the infant attached to her skull, she still managed, quite gracefully Remus noticed, to maneuver herself to the sofa and sit down.

Ron shook Remus’ hand. “Thanks for doing this. It means a lot to us to get away for a weekend. You’ll be happy to know that I stopped my wife from leaving thirty pages of instructions.” Hermione rolled her eyes.

“Oh – I’m not worried. I know Auntie Tonks knows what she’s doing.” At the thought of leaving her baby, though, her eyes started to fill with tears.

Ron dropped the baby’s bag and ushered Hermione towards the door. “I’d better get her out of here, or she’ll change her mind. Can’t have that happen – I’m hoping to make another one of those this weekend.” He nodded towards his giggling daughter.

“Ronald!” Hermione blushed and smacked her husband on the arm.

“Practice makes perfect, right Professor?!” Ron offered a boyish grin and barely dodged a left hook from Hermione, now scarlet to the roots of her hair. Remus dared not laugh, and was happy with the distraction of the couple making to leave.

Tonks brought the baby to kiss her parents goodbye, and with only a few tears Ron and Hermione were off on their holiday, leaving their gorgeous little bundle in the hands of Remus and Tonks.

“So.” Tonks was standing with Katie on one hip, and her hand on the other.

“So.”

“So, do you want to hold her?”

Remus took a deep breath. “I – I’m not sure. She’s so little. I could hurt her.”

Tonks laughed out loud, and then held the baby out in front of her, facing Remus. “Are you really afraid of a wee baby? DADA Professor, Order of Merlin first class Remus Lupin is afraid of an infant ?!” She took a step closer, and wiggled the baby at arms length. He bit his lip.

“Careful, Nymphadora…”

Tonks’ eyes narrowed and she pulled the giggling baby back to her chest. “You,” she spat, “think I’m going to drop her.” Remus looked sheepishly at his feet, drove his hands into his pockets and shrugged his shoulders.

“I told you before,” she said more quietly, “I’m good with kids.”

Remus saw a chance to recover a little. “Actually, I did notice you were quite graceful with her.” Tonks shot him a scathing look. “I’m serious,” he added.

Finally, her eyes softened. She settled herself on the sofa and patted the seat next to her. “Come here. I’ll show you how to hold our girl.”

After a few false starts, the baby was seated fairly comfortably in Remus’ lap, although he insisted on holding her head in place. “Why are you doing that?” Tonks asked. He told her that he’d read in a book that you had to hold a baby’s head. Tonks rolled her eyes. “Cripes, Lupin, she’s six months old. She can manage her own head. Try to relax. I’m going to make her a bottle.”

That turned out to be easier said than done. The instant Tonks stood up, Katie started screaming like a banshee and reaching towards her. Lupin looked at Tonks with terror in his eyes, clearly unable to imagine what to do with the little creature in his arms. “What do I do? How do I make it stop?”

“Sing her a song.”

“I don’t know any baby songs!”

“Sing her the alphabet song.”

Lupin bounced the baby on his knee and began singing his way through the alphabet. “♪A ♪ B ♪ C ♪ D ♪ E ♪ F ♪G ♪ - H ♪ I ♪ J ♪ K ♪ L ♪ M ♪ N ♪ O ♪ P ♪…” Katie’s big blue eyes grew wide, and she stopped crying. She seemed to consider Remus’ gruff voice for a moment, and then must have decided that it was acceptable, because she started squealing with delight. That was until he got to the end of the song. Then she took a few deep cleansing breaths to get herself primed, and began to wail. “WAHHHHHHHH!”

Tonks was rather enjoying the look of alarm on Remus’ face, but she took pity on him and called out advice from the kitchen. “Keep singing – she seems to like it.”

“I don’t know any other children’s songs!”

“Mother of Merlin, Remus – she doesn’t care what words you sing – she just likes the sound of your voice.”

Panicked, Remus began singing, to the tune of the alphabet song, whatever entered his head at the moment.

“♪ If you want to kill a galloping graphorn
first you have to hit it with a good stunning spell.
Then you have to thrust a blade in his gullet
And pull out his heart and cut it in two
Try to get ahold of his horns because
They are worth five galleons an ounce…♪”

The baby was bouncing and clapping and smiling, and every once in while she would grab Remus’ ears and try to bite his nose. From the kitchen where she was fussing with the bottle, Tonks felt her heart melt a little bit.

As she tested the bottle on the inside of her arm, she heard him singing what appeared to be his grandmother’s recipe for wheaten bread, still to the tune of the alphabet song.

“♪ Three cups of flour and a cup of lard
add to that bicarbonate soda…♪”

Tonks chuckled as she entered the room with the bottle. “She likes you. You’re doing really well, love.”

“Oh, we’re great friends, aren’t we, Katie Bear?” The baby squealed and reached for her bottle. “Can I feed her?”


The baby, snuggled in the crook of Remus’ arm, stared up past her bottle and into his eyes with a look of pure trust. He found it mesmerizing, looking into those big blue eyes that seemed to want nothing more than to study his face. After a few minutes, her eyelids started to droop, and then she was asleep in his arms. He looked up at Tonks and whispered, “She’s beautiful.” Tonks nodded. “She smells amazing,” he added. Tonks just smiled and reached over to pick her up. She took her to the little bedroom she had made up, and watched her sleep for a few minutes. Then she went back to the sitting room, and settled herself next to Remus again.

“You’re good with kids, Nymphadora.”

“I told you. It’s funny, really. I’m the clumsiest girl in the world, but I become totally self-possessed when I’m holding a baby. I know why, too. Usually I’m thinking about a million things at once, and not watching where I’m going. But the minute you give me a baby, that becomes my entire focus.”

“I should have guessed,” Remus added, placing his hand on her knee. “There is no way Hermione, of all people, would have left the baby with you if you weren’t wonderful with kids.” He looked over at her smiling face, and it hit him.

Tonks wanted children.

Oh Merlin, how could they have been together this long and not had this discussion? There was no way they could have kids. There had been a few cases of werewolves having children safely with humans, but mating with a metamorph was unprecedented. He would never pass his curse on to a baby, but did he have the right to stop Nymphadora from being a mother? He loved her. He wanted her to have everything. Sadly, he realized what he had to do.

He felt his heart begin to beat wildly in his chest, and there were tears welling in his eyes. He had been so stupid. He had thought he would have her forever. But this was it. If she wanted children, he would have to give her up so she could find a man who could be a proper father. His breathing grew ragged, and Tonks looked up at him.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

“Do you want children?” he blurted out.

Tonks blanched. Then she made a quick recovery and said “Easy there, Tiger – you haven’t even asked me to move in with you yet.”

He shook his head in confusion. “But Tonks, you’ve been living here for two years !” She laughed, a little uncomfortably. “Yeah, but a girl still likes to be asked. Don’t you think it’s foolish that I still have a flat in London?”

“Of course I do. But…but you didn’t answer my question.”

Tonks squared her shoulders so she could look at him directly. “Yes. I want children. Don’t you?”

He felt his heart begin to sink, and could hear blood pounding in his ears. “Oh, Nymphadora, there is nothing I want more, but it just can’t be. We can’t have children together, safely. I would never risk that for a child. I’m so sorry.” He looked at the ceiling and blinked hard to stop the tears from falling.

“Lupin, look at me. Did I say I wanted to be pregnant? No. I don’t. It’s murder on the hips, from what I hear.” Remus looked into her eyes. She flushed and eyed him shyly before she continued, softly. “I...I always kind of thought we’d adopt a baby. Charlie Weasley told me that there are orphanages in Romania for both Muggle and Wizard babies who need good homes. Haven’t you always said you wished you’d been able to raise Harry? This would be a chance to give another little one a better life. I know we’d be good at it. I have a feeling about us. Hell, I’d go to Romania tomorrow if I thought you wanted to.”

Remus couldn’t believe she had been thinking this far into their future. He had never dreamed there would be a woman on earth who would want to raise children with him. Then and there he made a decision that had been torturing him for ages. He reached into his pocket and pulled out something small. Taking a shaky breath, he got down from the sofa and knelt before her. Tonks let out a little squeal as he spoke.

“If I’m going to make you a mother, it’s only fitting that I make an honest woman of you first." He looked into those pretty dark eyes and found the strenth to continue. "Will you marry me, Nymphadora?”

“YES!” she screeched. Lupin put his finger to her lips. “Shhhh Tonks – you’re going to wake the baby.”

As he placed the little diamond ring on her finger, she whispered “Yes, yes, yes…” over and over again, and then kissed him blissfully.




Months later, on the train to Romania, Mrs. Lupin was trying her best to think of names for the three week old boy who was about to become theirs. Her husband was little help in the matter.

“We probably shouldn’t use Sirius or James, since Harry may want those when he has children,” Remus reasoned. “What about Albus? I’d be thrilled to name a baby for Dumbledore,” he added.

Tonks smirked. “I have it on pretty good authority that Dumbledore wouldn’t be happy about that.”

“Alright then, Missus – what are your thoughts?”

“Well, what about Edward for my Dad and Brian for yours?”

Remus nodded. “Brian was one of Dumbledore’s middle names, too. I like it. Edward Brian Lupin.”

“And we’ll call him Teddy.”

“Teddy Lupin. That I really like.” The train rolled on for another few moments before Tonks spoke again.

“I’ve been wondering, Mr. Lupin. Just how long did you wander around with that ring in your pocket, anyway?” She glanced at her left hand and gave him an encouraging pat on the arm.

“Oh – a few months, I suppose.”

“A few months!!! What was stopping you?!”

Remus shrugged. “I wanted to be sure you’d say yes.”

“Are you kidding? I would have said yes the first time I laid eyes on you!”

He laughed out loud. “Oh really? The first time you saw me. At the Burrow. When you thought I was a porn star?”

Tonks looked into the warm grey eyes that had been making her weak since she first encountered them. She thought of the man whose kindness and bravery made her the proudest wife in the world. She beamed at him.

“I think so. Yes.” She caught him in a quick embrace and nibbled on his lower lip. “Absolutely.” Her neck tingled as the train steamed ahead towards their destiny.





DONE!! Wow, it’s amazing to have that finished. Please leave a review and let me know what you think of the story. Thank you for your support!!!! Paloma

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