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When Remus John Lupin was sixteen, he wrote a love poem, the first and only one he would ever write. 


It went something like this:


Roses are red
Violets are blue.
By the way I’m a werewolf
Hope that doesn’t bother you.


Remus never had any illusions of becoming the voice of his generation or anything like that, but he was a good student who got ‘Outstandings’ on essays about complicated things like Elemental Transfiguration and Golpalott’s Third Law. Writing a little ditty to a girl he liked should be a breeze, right? 


Wrong. He was so very wrong.


He had spent two hours furiously scribbling, crossing out, and scribbling again until side of his writing hand was smudged with ink—and all he had to show for it were four shoddy lines of nursery-rhyme level verse that didn’t even mention the word ‘love’. 


He groaned and crumpled up the poem, tossing it to the floor which was already littered with dozens of earlier drafts. In the end, he didn’t send anything to the girl. Years later, she got married and had three kids with someone else.


Ever since he hit puberty, Remus struggled with certain four-letter words beginning with the letter L.


Once, during Double Potions his fourth year, he tried to say ‘I like you’ to a girl who happened to be his lab partner at the time—Amy Cadwallader was her name, she was in Hufflepuff. But as soon as his tongue began to form the ‘L,’ it hitched against the roof his mouth and froze. Amy stared at him for a few uncomfortable seconds while he made an extended ‘L’ noise. In his panic, he ended up saying, “Amy, I wanted to let you know that I l…l…l…lost my bezoar, have you seen it?” She frowned and looked pointedly at the large bezoar sitting on the table in front of him.


‘Endearingly awkward’ was the term Lily used to describe him when they were teenagers. “Girls like that,” she would say. “It’s charming in a non-threatening kind of way. Like a puppy.”


Yeah, right: a puppy that turns into a flesh-eating man-beast every full moon. Thanks, Lily. But Remus was a timid, mousy boy, and Lily a popular, red-headed girl, so he trusted her opinion.


The years passed and Lily’s theory had yet to be proven true. Remus was now at a point in his life where his awkwardness could hardly be thought of as endearing. He was a thirty-five-year-old, prematurely graying werewolf and the thought of saying ‘I like you’ to a woman still terrified him. ‘I love you’ was simply out of the question.


---


It was meant to be a routine drive-by, but Remus saw it as an opportunity to change the course of his romantic life forever.


Per Moody’s orders the day before, they were to set off in pairs, patrolling the streets of London for signs of Death Eaters. “It doesn’t matter if you’re out on foot, bike, broom, car, hippogriff—what matters is that you don’t get caught,” Mad Eye growled at the assembled Order members during their last debrief. “As I’ve said before: your most powerful weapon isn’t some spell or fancy wand work. No, the difference between life and death out there on those streets comes down to two words. Which are—?” he motioned for the others to finish the sentence.


“Constant Vigilance,” they mumbled in lazy unison.


“I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Moody barked.


“CONSTANT VIGILANCE,” they groaned louder.


He then paired them off and assigned shifts. “Lupin, Tonks: tomorrow I want you to do a ground survey north of the neighborhood. Mind this area around the park,” he circled it on the map. “There’s been police reports of some ‘peculiar lookin’ folk walking about—people out in robes in broad daylight. And I want you two to stay street-level for this one—no brooms.” His eye whirred around its socket as he spoke.


Tonks winked at Remus from across the table. “Don’t worry, Mad-Eye. Moony and I got this.”

 
Remus took his role with the Order very seriously, but at that moment his heart soared at having a reason to be alone with her away from Grimmauld Place. There would be no Mad-Eye Moody watching their every move. No stir-crazy Sirius bothering him every five minutes. Just him and Tonks and a whole Sunday afternoon full of possibilities.


“Fancy taking a walk tomorrow?” he asked her, perhaps a little too eagerly.


Tonks balked at the suggestion. “That neighborhood’s huge. There’s no way we’ll be able to cover that much ground on foot in one afternoon.”


“Have you got a better idea?”


“As a matter of fact, I do,” she said, her dark eyes twinkling.


The next day, he sat on the stoop of Grimmauld Place, waiting for her to arrive. 

 

Tonks finally pulled up in a beat-up looking Vauxhall Astra. She bleated the horn happily.


“Wotcher, Moony!” she greeted him from the driver’s seat as he approached the vehicle. She had one arm out the window and a pair of bold sunglasses on. Yesterday her hair was bubblegum pink, today it was platinum blonde.


He leaned in through passenger window, inspecting the tattered interior. “I thought you were going to reserve one of the Ministry cars.” 


“Nah. Mad Eye said it would be too obvious. So Dung hooked me up with this old gal.” She patted the steering wheel. “Ain’t she a beaut? We’ll blend right in with the muggles.” 


He wouldn’t have been surprised if Dung had picked her out of a junkyard; she was in bad need of a paint job, her exhaust sputtered, and the hubcaps were nearly rusted through. Yet the young, sprightly witch behind the wheel revved the engine as though she were a race car.


“My mother always warned me about getting into cars with strange women,” he quipped.


Tonks grinned. “Hop in, momma’s boy. We haven’t got all day.”


She was right about that. Mad-Eye wanted them to report back before nightfall. He theorized that with the daytime traffic, they were less likely to be singled out driving around suspected Death Eater hotbeds. “It’s all about getting close to the nest without waking the dragon,” Moody growled at them earlier that morning. “Keep a close eye on your surroundings and each other. Remember: CONSTANT VIGILANCE!”


‘Constant vigilance’ did not apply to Tonks’s driving, however. She weaved haphazardly through midtown traffic, occasionally taking her hands off the wheel to mime something to Remus as she talked.


“When did you learn to drive?” he asked, hoping he sounded lighthearted and not terrified after they screeched around a particularly sharp turn.


“Dad taught me the summer I turned seventeen,” she said brightly as she shifted gear. “I remember it like it was yesterday: I had come home all upset because I just failed my Apparition test and he sat me down and said, ‘Dora, my parents were muggles and they didn’t have wands, or portkeys, or fancy brooms to help them get around. All they had was The Beast’—that’s what grandad used to call their old station wagon. Anyway, Dad got the car after grandad passed and he told me that I would do my muggle forefathers proud or something if I learned how to drive it. Meanwhile, my mum—bless her pureblood heart—was all like, ‘Edward Tonks. There is no way our daughter is getting into that metal deathtrap.’ But she eventually gave in and Dad and I had a blast cruising around in The Beast. We had the windows down and the radio on and everything. Best summer ever,” she sighed. “Then I passed the Apparition test on the second go and haven’t touched a car since. Well, until today.”


He looked at her incredulously. “That means you haven’t driven in like—what—ten years?”


“Er, more like…five?” She let out an embarrassed laugh. “Don’t worry: as the muggles say, it’s just like riding a bike. Once you learn how to do it, you never forget. Although, I haven’t actually ridden a bike since that summer either, so I’m not sure if I still know how…”

 

She prattled on cheerfully while Remus only half-listened. He was still processing the fact he had been wrong about her age. He knew that she was younger, but assumed she was at the very least twenty-five. His thirty-five years now felt ancient compared to her mere twenty-two.


He often wondered if she thought he was old. She once caught him fretting in the mirror over the silver threads starting to peak through his brown hair, and since then had taken to randomly morphing into a white-haired old lady, pointing to her head and asking him,“Young man, do you see any greys?”


A terrible thought occurred to him: what if all this time, he had been reading her signals all wrong? What if she didn’t see him as her partner on a romantic surveillance mission, but as a stand-in for her father: the jovial middle-aged wizard who used to give her driving lessons.


He sank into his seat, feeling like he swallowed a rock.


Sensing his discomfort, Tonks fiddled around with the radio for some distraction. “Damned thing,” she muttered, blindly mashing buttons and twisting knobs. “This would be so much easier with a wand—Oops!”


She had drifted into the opposite lane while trying to fish her wand out of her pocket, earning a few angry honks as she swerved back to their side.


“Get off the road, ya cunt!” yelled a red-faced driver in a van.


“Up yours, arsehole!” Tonks screamed out the window. Remus watched in awe as she pulled her head back in. “My, I’ve forgotten how lovely people are when they drive,” she chuckled.


He had a disturbingly paternal urge to tell her to stop provoking the muggles and mind the road, but saying so would only make him feel even more like her old man, so he kept his mouth shut.


Let her be. For Merlin's sake, she’s a grown woman and fully-fledged auror, he thought to himself. I’m not her father or her driving instructor. 


Hell, I never even learned how to drive in the first place.


Although the skill wouldn’t have been of much use to him as an adult wizard, he secretly regretted not knowing how to drive. His mother would have taught him, but she was already too frail by the time he was old enough. 


Before she got sick, Hope Lupin loved being behind the wheel. She had a convertible many years ago and during the summer she would take her husband and son on road trips along the coast. They put the top down, letting the sun tan their faces and the salty air whip through their hair. “See what you’re missing out on when you just Apparate everywhere?” she yelled cheerfully at her husband over the wind. “It’s not about the destination, but the journey!” From the passenger side, Lyall smiled and gave his muggle wife a thumbs up, all the while gripping the edge of his seat as though it kept him from flying out of the vehicle.


Young Remus rode in the backseat, holding out his thin arms to catch the wind. He admired how deftly his mother would steer them along the winding the roads, her honey-blonde curls spilling out of the gauzy scarf she wore to contain them. She would sometimes turn her head slightly to check on her son and remind him gently, “put your seatbelt on, sweetheart.”


Still thinking about his mother, adult Remus tugged the nylon belt by its dangling metal clasp and buckled himself in with a satisfying click.


Tonks looked over at him and scowled. “Really?” 


---

 

An hour of driving around the park yielded no signs of robed figures or Dark Marks. It was getting hot and the AC was broken, so they decided to pull over under the shade of a large oak tree to cool down. They finally got the radio to work, and The Rolling Stones hummed out of the car’s tinny speakers while Tonks reclined in the driver’s seat, her hands folded behind her head and her Doc Martens up on the dashboard, tapping along to the music.


Remus, meanwhile, had his elbows propped up on the sill of the passenger-side window, gazing out at the park through a pair of Omnioculars, a leftover from last year’s Quidditch World Cup, under the pretense of looking for signs of suspicious activity. But really he was just fiddling around with them to have something to distract himself from the young woman sprawled out next to him, with her lean legs stretched out on the dash and a pale strip of bare midriff peeking out above her denim shorts.


He zoomed in on random parkgoers going about their leisure—speeding them up, slowing them down, pausing them in mid-motion. He froze a skateboarder in midair as he cleared a trash can, sped up a tiny old lady doing Tai-Chi, replayed a heavy businessman dropping a burrito again and again. He was watching a woman jog in slow motion when Tonks cleared her throat to get his attention.


“Ahem. You know I can replay everything you’ve looked at through those, right?”


He put down the Omnioculars and turned towards her. Her indignant tone was undermined by the playful—dare he imagine, flirtatious—glint in her eyes.


“Good. You can re-watch it and make sure I didn’t miss anything,” he said casually, handing her back the device.


She snorted. “Like I’m going to sift through a half hour of fat men dropping burritos and nearly-naked joggers.” 


“You told me were going to ‘close your eyes for a bit.' How is it you were watching me this whole time?”


 “Two words,” she sighed. “Constant. Fucking. Vigilance.” 


He laughed. “I believe that’s three…”  


There were many things that attracted him to Tonks, but chief among them was how inexplicably sexy she sounded when she swore—which was often.


“She takes after me, alright,” Sirius had told him after meeting her for the first time since his escape from prison. “The last time I’d seen Dora she was just an innocent purple-haired little thing. Now she’s a foul-mouthed, arse-kicking reprobate just like her Uncle Sirius.” he said proudly.


“But she’s technically your cousin, right?” Remus asked him. “Thinking of her as your niece just makes her sound so…young…”


“Why should that matter to you, unless…” Sirius grinned slyly. “You fancy her, mate?” 


“Don’t be stupid,” he hissed, though he could feel his ears turn red.


Remus couldn’t quite get a read on what his friend’s current opinions were regarding his feelings for Dora. They hadn’t discussed it since. But a few weeks ago, as they were eating breakfast at Grimmauld Place one morning, Sirius said to him out of the blue: “Imagine if you and Tonks had kids. You’d have all these wee technicolor werewolves running around.” He took a thoughtful bite of his cornflakes. “That’d be bloody brilliant.” 


As uncomfortable as he was with Sirius mentally breeding him with his cousin, he had to admit that the same absurd thought had also crossed his mind. She was the first metamorphagus he ever met, and he her first werewolf. Such a pairing probably never existed before.


Maybe he was putting the cart before the horse by imagining their future children, but his mind had been racing in all sorts of wild directions since they began working together for the Order last summer. That was when he told her about his Lycanthropy. Whereas most people would have recoiled, she had merely shrugged and said, “Well, then. Aren’t we just a match made in freak heaven.” 


Tonks reached over from the driver’s seat of the Astra and waved her hand in front of Remus’s face. “Earth to Moony. Is anyone home?”


He shook his head, freeing it from memories of last summer. “Sorry. Zoned out for a moment.”


“No kidding. What’s on your mind?” 


“Nothing,” he said automatically.


Tell her, you fool, his inner voice coaxed. Who knows when you’ll have another opportunity to be alone with her like this.


“Actually, Dora, there is something that’s been on my mind,” he blurted. 


She turned down the radio and looked up at him eagerly. “Spill it, Moony. I’m all ears.” 


He sighed. Here goes nothing


“Well, I’ve been wanting to tell you this pretty much since the day we met. It’s hard to explain, but I just feel like we have this connection. Believe me,” he laughed nervously, “I know how cliché that sounds, but honestly, I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this way…Like I’ve finally met someone who understands me. And since we’ve been going on missions together, you’ve just been so…er…”


He trailed off because he realized she was no longer listening to him. Her eyes were instead fixated on something over his shoulder. 


“What’s wrong?” he asked, turning his head to see what she was gazing at.


“Don’t turn around now!” she hissed. “Keep looking at me, like we’re talking.”


He obeyed and watched her while she continued to glare ominously out at the park.


“You’re starting to freak me out, Tonks.”


“Hush.” 


After a minute passed, she grabbed the Omnioculars out of his hand and leaned across his lap to get a better look. The sudden proximity of her head to his made his pulse quicken almost as much as whatever was going on outside.


“I think we’ve found our ‘peculiar’ fellow,” she told him. “Over there.”


He peered out the window to where she indicated. In the park, about 50 yards away, a tall figure dressed in coarse brown robes was walking quickly down a path that ran parallel to their street. It could have been a man, but it was hard to tell when all he could see was his hooded profile. The figure continued on his determined pace until he reached the park entrance, turned onto the street up ahead, and disappeared from view. 


“You reckon he’s a Deathie?” Tonks asked.


“Could be. Though it seems rather odd for a Death Eater to be seen strolling about the park in broad daylight.”


“I suppose he could just be some weirdo; goodness knows this park’s got more than its fair share of those. Either way, we should tail him in case he’s going to meet his mates,” she said as she started the engine again. Despite their potentially grave predicament, she sounded oddly giddy with excitement.


“Why are you so eager? I thought you did this for a living,” he teased.


“But never from a car. It’s strangely exhilarating. I feel like one of those muggle police who solve murders…what are they called again?” 


“Detectives?”


“Yeah, like a detective,” she purred as she stepped on the gas and peeled away from the curb. 


They turned a hard left at the intersection where the figure had disappeared. The new street they were on had no trees and was lined with much older looking buildings.  


“Sorry if I scared you earlier, by the way,” Tonks said suddenly. “He was facing us and I thought we would be too obvious if we both looked.”


“I wasn’t scared,” Remus muttered. “I was just worried you’d snapped or something.”


“Right,” she smirked. 


“There he is—up ahead.” He pointed out the shady figure striding up the sidewalk.


As they drove by, the man kept walking with his head bowed and his hands in his pockets. The hood shielded his face from view, but as Remus glanced at him through his open window, he was hit with a heady, awfully familiar sensation that made the hair on the back of his neck stand. It can't be him, he tried to reason to himself, but a primal instinct told him otherwise: It s him. It's definitely him. 


The man seemed to sense something, too. He stopped in his tracks and peered up from beneath his hood as they passed. Through the wing mirror, Remus caught a glimpse of his face. His features were long and shadowy—apart from his eyes, which gleamed yellow.


“What is it? Did you see his face?” she inquired.


“Pull over up there,” he said tersely.


They parked a little ways up the street and tracked the hooded man’s movements in the review mirror. Rather than continuing up their way, however, he abruptly turned and vanished down a narrow alleyway between two derelict buildings.


“I've got a bad feeling about this guy. We should probably go see what he's up to,” she said. 


Remus was already unbuckling himself. “I'll go. You wait here with the car. One of us needs to report back to headquarters in case something happens."


“Not so fast, Seatbelt," she retorted. "I’ll scope him out, while you wait here.” 

 

"No, I insist on going on my own. He could be dangerous."


“Don’t be gallant. I’m the fully qualified auror here, remember?”


“And I’m the…former Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher here,” he countered lamely. 


“Oh, forgive me, Professor Lupin.”


“I admit that sounded better in my head. But at any rate: you’re the driver. Therefore you should stay with the car."
Before she could protest further, he swiftly got out of the Astra and shut the door behind him.

 

Tonks looked furious. “Are you mad?” 


He poked his head back in. “I won’t be long. Keep the engine running.” He left her with what he hoped was an assuring grin, but her reaction said otherwise. As he sprinted away from the car, he could hear her hiss at him through the open window: "Moony...Remus...get your arse back here!"

 

His heart raced as he approached the alleyway. By the entrance, an old tramp was sitting against a dumpster.

 

"Spare any change, fella?" the muggle growled.

 

"Sorry," Remus muttered before walking quickly past him. The narrow, cobblestone side street was flanked by two formerly imposing brick buildings-perhaps factories in their heyday-that have since fallen into neglect. He treaded down the dark alley until he found himself standing in front of brick wall: a dead end. The man was no where to be found.  There was no door or window on either side for him to have crawled through.

 

Must have apparated, Remus mused. Then another idea struck him. Unless...

 

On a hunch, he approached the wall and tapped it with his wand. Exactly eight times in a circle.

 

The bricks began to shift and part before him like a biblical sea. He glanced behind him in fear that the panhandling muggle could hear the not inconspicuous sound of brick grating against brick, but the tramp had already dozed off against his dumpster.

 

The wall reogranized itself until it formed an arched entrance way of about his height, at the end of which was a rounded wooden door. He took a deep breath as he gripped the handle and pushed it open.

 

Before him was a large, cavernous room with earthen walls, dimly illuminated by a small hearth burning in the far corner. Hunched over the fire was the robed man. With his back to him, he greeted Remus with with a surprisingly bright, mellow voice.

 

“Remus John. I thought I caught your scent.”


“And I yours, Barric,” he responded gravely, his hand tightening around his wand.


The man got up from the fire and turned to face him. As he stepped into the dusty strip of light filtering down from the boarded ceiling, Remus could see his face in full. His transition was more advanced than when he had seen him last, and although the full moon was still weeks away, his features resembled more wolf than man. Especially his eyes, which gleamed a golden yellow even in the semi-darkness.

 

It was then he noticed movement in the shadowy corners of the room, and more pairs of inhumanly bright eyes: most were yellow like Barric's, others were blue, green, and at least one red.

 
“So you've found us," Barric said pleasantly. "I must say, it’s good to see you again, Brother Lupin.”

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

-----

 

A/N

Thanks for reading! The second/final part to this story is in draft and promise to publish it soon.

Reviews are always welcome and much appreciated. I hope to continue to improve my writing and publish things people actually want to read, so I greatly appreciate your feedback!
 

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