The Sugar Quill
Author: Felina Black  Story: Not as Simple as All That  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.

Set three days after “The Problem with Tonks”

Legal Stuff: The characters of Molly, Arthur, and Remus unfortunately do not belong to me.  They’re all JK Rowling’s.  I’m just playing in her sandbox.


Not as Simple as All That


A/N: This story is set three days after “The Problem With Tonks


The dinner dishes were washing themselves and Molly was preparing the dessert tray.  She turned to the strawberry pie she had baked earlier that day.  Remus preferred chocolate, she knew, and she always had a rich chocolate cake ready when he came over.  But tonight wasn’t about Remus.  Well, not just about Remus.


After dinner, which had been a rather quiet affair, Remus and Arthur had moved into the living room where Molly could barely hear them discussing the latest news on Remus’s mission for the Order.  Molly didn’t like to second-guess Dumbledore, but it seemed like a fool’s mission to her.  Remus could employ all the considerable brains, kindness, and cunning he possessed and Molly doubted it would make any difference at all.


Molly put the last slice of pie on its plate on the tray.  With a muttered Wingardium leviosa, she headed toward the living room with the tray hovering before her.  As she entered, Arthur gave her a knowing look and a little wink.  She had told him all about her discussion with Tonks the other night, of course.  And, though he usually tried to dissuade her from meddling in other people’s affairs, this time he agreed quite quickly that some intervention with Remus seemed necessary.  She suspected it was because he respected Remus a great deal and felt Remus deserved to be truly happy.  Arthur really was sentimental at heart.


Molly set the tray down on the coffee table and was fairly certain she saw Remus do a quick double-take at the three large slices of strawberry pie.  Acting as if nothing was out of the ordinary, she took the largest slice and offered it to Remus.  He eyed it warily as he took it from her hands.  Suspecting Remus knew that Tonks had been over the other night, and knowing he was too smart to be blind-sided, Molly decided to jump right to the heart of the matter.


“Strawberry pie,” she declared a little too cheerfully.  “Tonks’s favorite.”


“Is it,” Remus muttered, shifting his wary gaze from the pie to Arthur to Molly.


“Yes, it is.  She was here Wednesday night, as I’m sure you know, and I made it special for her.  Since you couldn’t join us, I made sure to save some for you.”  Molly replied, working to keep her energetic and, hopefully, moderately innocent tone.


At her reply, Remus slowly placed the plate with his slice of pie onto the end table by his chair and then folded his hands in his lap.  He was raising his guard, Molly could tell.  She opened her mouth to say something more, but Remus responded before she could think of what to say.


“Why do you think I would know Tonks was here?”  Not an accusation, but also not a true inquiry; it sounded more like a measured attempt to determine exactly just how much Molly knew.  More accustomed to the emotional outbursts of her own children when cornered, Molly found herself a bit unsure how to proceed with this calm and collected man in front her.  She looked to Arthur for assistance.  He took the hint.


“Well, Remus, Molly and I couldn’t help but notice that you two seem to have a good friendship.  She seems a bit taken with you, even.”


“Does she.”  It wasn’t a question.  “Well, we’re certainly friends,” he continued.  “She and Sirius and I spent a good deal of time together in Grimmauld Place last year.  But I’m afraid I’m not privy to her day-to-day routine, especially given my present assignment for the Order.” He was still speaking in that calm, unfussed manner that Molly was beginning to find slightly disconcerting.  Flaring tempers and yelled assaults she knew how to handle – a less admirable Weasley trait, she admitted.  She wasn’t quite sure how to handle someone who clearly wouldn’t let emotion take over so easily.  She needed to find some way to pull this conversation into a realm with which she was more comfortable.  She decided to throw caution to the wind.  No person was as reasonable as Remus was making himself out to be.


“Now, Remus,” she said, leaning forward and covering his folded hands with one of her own.  “Let’s not pretend here.  Arthur and I care about Tonks.  And we care about you.  And Tonks clearly fancies you.  And you fancy her.  And it’s time something were done about that.”


Remus’s eyes flashed a little at that last remark and he opened his mouth to retort.  Now she was getting somewhere.


“Don’t deny it, Remus.  She told me as much the other night.  And she also told me how you’re pushing her away.  And how upsetting that is to her.  She’s a wonderful girl, Remus.  You’re doing wrong by her.  You should be…”  And then something happened that never happened to Molly.  She was interrupted.


“With all respect, Molly, it’s my business.  Not yours.  I know you’ve taken a great liking to Tonks, but she’s a grown woman and an Auror to boot.  She doesn’t need you handling her affairs for her.  And neither do I.”


“But you’re being ridiculous, Remus!  How could you possibly push away somebody who cares about you so deeply?  I took you for being smarter than that.”  She was lecturing now and she knew it.  And Remus’s suddenly rigid posture in his chair told her that he was working much harder to keep his emotions in check.


“Molly,” Arthur interjected with a gently warning tone. “Remus is right.  His personal matters are really his alone.  I apologize, Remus, we certainly shouldn’t be prying as we are.  But we’ve grown quite fond of you these past years.  Our children just adore you.  And Tonks is a fantastic girl.  And you two are great friends.  And she’s chosen to love you.  And, as a man who’s been married to his best friend for over thirty years, I’d hate to see you pass up something so potentially wonderful.”


At Arthur’s diplomacy, Remus seemed to soften a bit.  His posture became slightly more relaxed and he took a deep breath before speaking again.


“I appreciate your concern, Arthur.  And Molly.  I really do.  And I’m flattered that you think so fondly of me.  But I’m not accustomed to discussing my personal life with anybody.”  Molly scoffed quietly at this and Remus turned his attention to her. “I know that’s not how your family operates, Molly, but you have to understand that my life to date has given me entirely too many experiences that have taught me to lead a more guarded existence.”


Exasperated, Molly pleaded, “But you <i>do</i> fancy her, don’t you?”


Remus surveyed her for a moment, looking surprised at her sudden change of character.  Then he looked intently back at his folded hands in his lap and answered, “Yes.  I do.”


“Then why are you not with her?”  Molly asked in that same exasperated, pleading tone.


“It’s not as simple as all that, Molly.” Remus muttered, still looking at his hands.


“No, it’s not that simple, Remus, you’re right,” interjected Arthur.  Remus looked up, seeming somewhat surprised at Arthur’s agreement.  Molly was surprised, too.  She thought they had been in agreement on this matter; they were going to make Remus see the folly of his ways. “Nothing worth having ever is,” Arthur continued, much to Molly’s relief, “but we work to make it simple when it comes to the people we love.  Look at Molly and me.  Life with a family the size of ours on my Ministry salary has never been simple.  But we make it work because we love each other and we love our family.”


“I appreciate your point, Arthur.  But I have complications in my life that you and Molly simply don’t face.”


“Oh, tosh, Remus.  Like what?”  Molly challenged, hoping to keep him talking.


“For starters, my lycanthropy…”


“Which she is well aware of.  And she doesn’t care.  That’s no reason not to share your life with her.”


“With the Ministry’s attitude toward the condition, it is,” Remus retorted.  “I can’t share my life with someone whom I can’t even provide for properly.  I can barely provide for myself.”  He held out his arms, as if to show his worn and patched jumper as an example.


“But, Remus, money doesn’t matter if you have love.  Like Arthur said, look at us!”  Molly implored.  “Tonks is going spare without you; surely you’ve seen it.  Lack of money is no reason to deny yourself someone who loves you.  Besides, Tonks has a good job.  The two of you could live quite comfortably on an Auror’s salary.”


“You’re assuming the Ministry would allow her to keep her job, Molly. That’s no guarantee if it becomes public that she’s involved with… with someone like me.”


Molly opened her mouth to retort but Remus kept on talking, sounding like he had given these reasons multiple times over already.  Which, Molly realized, he probably had.


“Additionally, I’m too old for her.  Maybe not in actual years, but in experience.  I’m older than my years and I simply don’t have the energy or the ability to keep up with the pace that someone as young and vivacious as her keeps.  And she shouldn’t have to slow down for me, or change her habits or lifestyle for me.”


Remus,” Arthur interrupted, “these are all small things in the grand scale of a loving relationship.”


“And I’m too dangerous for her, as well,” Remus continued, sitting toward the edge of his seat and looking much more emphatic.  “I’m not taking Wolfsbane anymore.  I can’t, not with my present assignment for the Order.  Which means I’m not controlled at all at the full moon.  What if she were to get too close during my transformation?  My wolf mind wouldn’t know it was her.  It would just smell the human flesh and want to attack.  I could never live with myself if I did something to her while transformed.”


“But you won’t be on this assignment for the Order forever, Remus.”  Molly said reasonably.


“No, I won’t.  But the danger is even higher when I go back on the Wolfsbane.  Because she’ll assume that I’m not dangerous.  And all it would take is one bad dose and one mistake on either my or her part.  I’m not willing to risk that.  Not ever again.  I couldn’t live with myself.”  Remus seemed to be nearly shaking with emotion at this point, and Molly realized that he’d probably never allowed himself to speak of his condition this way around anybody but James or Sirius before.  Arthur seemed to realize the same thing.


“We understand, Remus,” he said, soothingly, “or, at least, we understand as best we can.  And these are all things that are right to consider.  But they’re also all things that are largely beyond your control.  You have to trust Tonks.  As she clearly trusts you.  You have to trust that she’d respect you and your concerns.  And act accordingly.  These are serious issues, but simply not serious enough to warrant you denying yourself the chance at true love and happiness.”


“Have you told Tonks all these things, Remus?”  Molly asked.


“More times than I can recall, Molly.  I’ve told her all this.  And told her she needs to forget about me and move on.  That she deserves much better than me.  But she won’t listen.  It seems she inherited the full dose of the Black pride and stubbornness.”  He allowed himself a small chuckle at this, though it was without any real mirth.


Molly smiled understandingly.  Stubbornness she understood; another less admirable Weasley (and Prewett) trait, at times.  But she also knew that stubbornness is a characteristic very closely related to something else.


“You know, Remus, stubbornness is also known as love.  We don’t give up on the people we love.  Tonks loves you and she realizes, like I do, that there is not a reason you’ve given for not being with her that can’t be addressed and resolved.  Because she loves you.  You choose to see it as stubbornness because, for some reason, you don’t see yourself as being worthy of her love.”


“I’m not worthy of her love.”  Remus interrupted.


“And why ever not?”  Molly retorted, and then continued quickly before he could answer. “And don’t you dare start listing any of the reasons you just gave.  Those are all just excuses.  You’re a kind, intelligent, warm, strong, and caring man more than deserving of true love.  And I won’t hear anything otherwise from you.”


Remus sat back again on the couch, looking for all the world like a reprimanded schoolboy.  If she hadn’t been so intent on making Remus see reason, she would have laughed at the image.


“This is something that Tonks and I have to determine on our own, Molly.  Arthur.”  He sounded deflated.  “Please.  I appreciate your perspective; I really do.  And I’d be lying if I said that I don’t sometimes envision myself leading a life more like yours.  But it just isn’t that simple for me.  And, quite frankly, I just can’t be distracted like this now.  My life among the werewolves, with Greyback, is just too dangerous.  There’s not even any guarantee that I’ll make it through this assignment, or this war, alive.”


At this, Molly felt tears in her eyes. “There’s no guarantee any of us will make it through this war alive, Remus.  We can’t let that uncertainty keep us from living.  My brothers didn’t put their lives on hold during the first war, and they were the stronger for it.  Because they had love in their lives to fight for; and love to return home to.  And their lives were all the richer for it, even though they didn’t make it.”  Molly wiped her eyes with her napkin as Arthur wrapped his arm lovingly around her shoulders.


Sitting across from them, Remus’s eyes had saddened as Molly spoke.  But he still looked back at her unabashed.  She hadn’t realized just how strong a man he really was.


“Gideon and Fabian were great men, Molly.  Powerful wizards, and valuable members of the Order.”  Remus spoke quietly, with a measured tone.  “But I’m just not as strong as they were.”  He put up a hand to stop Arthur, who had opened his mouth, from interrupting.  “Really, Arthur.  I’m not.”  He looked up at the ceiling, as if collecting his thoughts.  Then he looked back down at his hands again with a sigh.  “I appreciate your concern.  I really do.”  He seemed at a loss for words.  Then, abruptly, he stood up.


“I really need to be going.  Thank you for the wonderful dinner, as always, Molly.  Arthur, will you please convey to Moody the information I told you earlier?” 


Surprised, Molly and Arthur scrambled off their sofa and tried to block Remus from the door.


“You can’t leave yet, Remus.  We’ve offended you.  We’re so sorry.  Please stay.”  Molly pleaded.


“No, Molly.  I’m not offended.  I can’t change my mind on this, but I really do appreciate your concern.  And I really do have to go.  I’ll be expected back with Greyback’s pack before long and I have to check in with Dumbledore before I return.”


“But you didn’t even touch your pie,” Molly said, unsure of what else to say.  “At least take it with you.  You’re so thin.”


Remus actually laughed at this.  “If it will make you feel better, Molly, I’ll take it with me.  May as well pack up a slice for Dumbledore, too.”


Feeling better, Molly hurried to pack up two slices for Remus to take with him while Arthur walked him to the door.


“You’ll think about what we said, won’t you, Remus,” she heard Arthur asking as she walked up to them with the box of pie slices.  “We only meddle because we care,” he added with a wink.


Molly handed Remus the box and then, surprising him and herself, gave him a crushing hug.  “You’re a good man, Remus.  Stop telling yourself you don’t deserve the good things in life.  And you keep yourself safe.  And try to stop back by in a couple weeks; Harry would love to see you before going back to school.”


Remus simply nodded and headed out the door to the Apparition point.  When he reached it, he turned around and looked solemnly at Molly and Arthur.  “Thank you again for your hospitality.  And… and keep an eye on Tonks for me.  Make sure she’s okay.”  And, before she or Arthur could respond, Remus spun on the spot and was gone.


Molly let out a heavy sigh.  “Do you think we did more harm than good?” she asked her husband as they walked back in the house, shutting the door behind them.


“No, my dear, I don’t think we did.  Remus is just a man more accustomed to reason than to emotion.  But he’s a good man.  And he deserves Tonks.  We might just need to keep reminding him of that.  He’ll come ‘round eventually.  Now, come on, let’s go back in the living room and finish that delicious strawberry pie, my Mollywobbles.”


A/N 2: As always, massive thanks to my headmistress and beta-reader extraordinaire, Zsenya.  Her comments helped the make the story better than it ever could have been without her.  Go get yourself some strawberry pie, Z.  You deserve it!  J

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