The Sugar Quill
Author: Pelirroja  Story: Pegs  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

AN: Thank you to Alphie, my beta reader, who has a wonderful way of saying, “You can do so much more here

AN: Thank you to Alphie, my beta reader, who has a wonderful way of saying, “You can do so much more here!” Also, thanks to the pack at the Werewolf Registry, there’s a special tip of the hat to all of you.

 

 

 

“To stand on common ground
here and there gritty with pebbles
yet elsewhere ‘fine and mellow---”

~Denise Levertov~

 

 

 

 

Pegs

 

There he was at last. Tonks smiled to herself. She knew all along that watching out the window for Remus was unnecessary, not to mention a trifle obvious. Some sounds are predicable, unmistakable, defining: usually light feet moving slowly indicating their weariness, the precise, rhythmic raps of a wand on the oaken door, a barely audible groan as the door opens, the creek of the coat rack betraying that the wearer of the overcoat had leaned on the rack in weary resignation.  His presence was as clear as if he had shouted, “I’m home!”

 

Tonks brushed her mouse-brown hair out of her eyes. It was damp and limp from working in the kitchen. She doubted even a quick charm would perk it up. Ordinarily, she didn’t fancy cooking, but some things, or more precisely, some people are worth it.  She knew that he wouldn’t have had anything to eat, and that after being with werewolves less refined than he, he would both crave for and be sickened by the smell of meat. He’d need food nonetheless, and one, tasty vegetable soup was in order.

 

In the last couple of months, Tonks mused that her relationship with Remus had changed. They went from colleagues, to friends, to confidantes, to…well, what exactly?  There were moments when they almost dared to speak of inner feelings, but that would mean being vulnerable, something that both of them had spent a lifetime avoiding. So, up until now, their relationship remained the proverbial elephant in the parlour. It just loomed there in front of them as they pretended it didn’t exist. The thing was, it did exist and Tonks knew they both were well aware of it. Tonight, was the last night for pretending, the question was, how to stop the game they’d become so comfortable playing.

 

A squeak on the floorboards told her it was time for action, “Wotcha, Remus!” She called casually over her shoulder as she stirred the pot. “Have you eaten anything? Only have soup I’m afraid. It’s just you and I here tonight, rest of the Order’s out and about on business.”

 

She could hear his happy sigh despite the noise of his chair being dragged back over the floorboards when he sat down, “That’s the best offer I’ve had all day, thank you.”

 

Tonks carefully ladled the broth into the bowl. She silently repeated the mantra, don’t spill, don’t spill, don’t spill over and over again as she brought their bowls to the table. It was hard enough to carry a set of steaming bowls under usual circumstances, but now her nerves were getting the better of her. Plus, it didn’t help that when their eyes met, she could see that there were more than glimmers of friendship reflected in them. It didn’t matter how he quickly looked away on pretense of grabbing a napkin. She knew she didn’t imagine it. Feelings mirroring her own were there, just barely contained below that calm veneer. When she finally, uneventfully, put down the bowls, Remus smiled that welcoming smile that she had come to realize was reserved for her alone.

 

As they ate in silence, Tonks mused how the silence was comfortable, in fact it was so very right.  It was a mutual understanding that sometimes you just need to be with people; their presence is enough. Of course, she wondered how his meetings had gone, but she wasn’t about to ask. . On some level she didn’t want to know about the dangers he faced by being so close to Greybeck. However, if he wanted to share, he would, and she’d listen.

 

As he got to the bottom of the bowl, Remus looked up at her, “This was perfect, exactly what I needed. I didn’t know you liked to cook.”

 

“Let’s just hope I haven’t poisoned you. The way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if my minor cooking talent had gone too.”

 

Remus pushed aside his bowl and took her hand, “Tonks, don’t. You know your abilities will come back. Believe me, we couldn’t do without you.”

 

Kind eyes, and a gentle voice that believed in her, were a wonderful tonic even if she didn’t have as much faith in herself as he seemed to. He always made her feel better, like he really knew her.

 

“Well, until they do, if they do, there’s a few things I’m not so bad at making.” She rose to get the fudge she prepared earlier, “I actually handled dessert, too-”

 

“I’ll agree to sample the dessert on one condition.”

 

“What’s that?” she asked as she returned to the table with a somewhat lopsided fudge and a slicing knife.

 

“That you stop putting yourself down.”

 

“Remus, I don’t-”

 

“Enough, seriously you’re a wonderful person who has insight and instinct, and all of that would come out if you’d just believe in yourself more. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. We only see our failures and not our successes. None of us is perfect, we just have to get by faults and all, otherwise we’d go mad.”

 

“And how do you propose I go about doing that?” Tonks asked slightly overwhelmed.

 

Remus smirked, “Well, if I had all the answers I’d be Professor Dumbledore.”

 

“All right, all right you win.” Tonks giggled as she playfully slapped his arm.

 

“Now that’s more like it. Smile more. It suits you. Your abilities won’t fail you forever. All you need is time. It’s not a matter of if they come back but rather when.” He paused for a moment and then reached out and moved the wisps off hair that had again fallen in her face. “I know you prefer pink, but I actually like you just the way you are right now, the original you.”

 

“You seem to have me pegged so well.”  She bit at her lip and leaned forward, wanting to tell him the truth that she had never shared with anyone. If she was going to be honest about her feelings tonight, this was probably as good a place as any to start.  “You want to know why I actually started with the pink hair?

 

Remus nodded and smiled, “I’ll listen to anything you want to tell me.”

 

“It was to distract everyone from my clumsiness. If I had my hair done all crazy and the clothes were distinct, then nobody gave much thought to the fact that I tend to drop and break things. It was all camouflage. It was the shield that gave me my self-confidence. The pink haired rebel who drove her mum and dad bonkers-”

 

“Don’t forget Minerva McGonagall.” Remus added with a chuckle.

 

Tonks, paused looking dumbfounded, “And just how would you know that?”

 

When Remus didn’t respond right away, Tonks cocked her head with a smile that said I’m not continuing until you spill.

 

“Bill mentioned it in passing.” Remus said sheepishly as he picked that moment to start slicing into the fudge.

 

Tonks slid the knife out of his hands and pointed it at him playfully, “You were discussing my Hogwarts years with Bill?”

 

“I asked what you were like at school.” Tonks noticed a faint blush creeping up Remus’ cheeks. “He just mentioned, that certain a Marauders’ cousin had inherited some of his talent for mischief, and that once you all but drove Minerva to hand you over to Severus thinking surely you belonged in Slytherin.”

 

“Ok, touché. I‘ll admit I pushed Minerva’s buttons too, at least until she knew me better,” Tonks smiled and returned the knife to Remus, “Anyway, back to my hair. By going “Droobly”, as my mum called it, was better than any shield charm.  I felt like I could do anything, and I did. No one ever teased my anymore. It was my good luck charm that made me feel invincible. I suppose I could dye it, but it’s not the same thing. It was my shield that I made - almost a self-patronus. It came from me. It was all a part of me.”

 

“So, in other words, it’s the way you solved your square peg in the round hole problem.  You decided to be so different that you fit in by fitting out?” Remus paused, as he aimlessly cut the fudge in front of him. “You’re braver than me,” he added quietly.

 

Tonks called his bluff, “And now whose looking down on himself? We’re not that different, Remus. We’re both just different types of pegs. I’m rougher around the edges. I get stuck and cause problems – like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. People notice me, and my mistakes. You, on the other hand, are just the opposite. You’re the round peg in the square hole.  No matter how jagged and rough life gets in the wizarding world, you just slip on by. Nothing bothers you, or so you’d like everyone to believe. You’re content to think that you’re happy going by unnoticed.”

 

“Wow,” Remus finally looked up at Tonks in amazement, the fudge was now all but diced, “No one’s really put all that together in quite awhile…not for a good twenty years in any case.”

 

Tonks took a deep breath and continued, it was now or never. “The thing is, it doesn’t matter what type of peg we are, square or round, old or young, man or woman. In the end we’re both just one thing.”

 

“And what metaphor are you going to use this time?” Remus asked, now clearly at a loss of how to duck and cover.

 

Tonks reached out and took both his hands as she said softly, “No metaphor, just one word…lonely, and I’m tired of being lonely. Aren’t you?”

 

In the next two hours the elephant in the parlour had to find a new zoo, the ache of loneliness dissipated, and two seemingly opposite people found that there was common ground on which to peg their future.

//
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