The Sugar Quill
Author: InFabula (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Understanding Remus  Chapter: Chapter Two: Because
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Understanding Remus by InFabula

Understanding Remus by InFabula

 

Disclaimer: these wonderful characters belong to JK: I just borrowed them for a bit.

 

Chapter Two: Because

 

 

 

A short list of what I find attractive in a person:

 

1)  Someone who stands out from the crowd

 

The Order had assembled at Grimmauld Place and we were waiting for Dumbledore to call the meeting to order.  He did not seem in a great hurry to do so.  Instead he was watching with a benevolent eye as acquaintances were renewed and made.

 

A young witch with a heart-shaped face and a shock of violet hair bounced up to Sirius and myself.

 

“Nymphadora Tonks,” Sirius announced, smiling.  “My second cousin.”

 

“It’s just Tonks,” she said glaring at Sirius and thrusting out a hand for me to shake.

 

“Remus Lupin,” I replied.  “And just Remus will be fine.”

 

“Mum said Sirius was aggravating and I can see what she means.”

 

“Yes, he can be extremely annoying,” I smiled.

 

I became aware that I was still holding her hand and dropped it hurriedly.

 

She looked at me a little curiously.

 

“Are you all right?”

 

Without waiting for an answer, she ran a hand through her hair and went on:

 

“Do you know something?  When I was little, I used to love the cherries in tinned fruit salad.  Mum and Dad used to save theirs for me.  When Uncle Ernie came round to tea, he’s push the cherries to the side of his plate and when he’d eaten everything else, and just when I thought he was going to give them to me, he’d eat them.”

 

She looked accusingly at Sirius.

 

“Mum said it was just the sort of thing you’d do.”

 

“Character-building stuff,” Sirius protested.

 

“Jolly cruel, when you’re five,” Tonks retorted as Sirius darted off to greet Emmeline.

 

“It sounds like something Sirius would do,” I agreed.  “When he was younger, anyway.  I think he’s improved somewhat since then.”

 

She fixed me with a penetrating gaze.  “Did you know Sirius at school then?”

 

I nodded and something changed in her manner.  She seemed to withdraw from me even though she hadn’t moved an inch.

 

She glanced round at the rest of the Order.

 

“They’re all over him now.  Makes you wonder where they were fourteen years ago.”

 

The words were pointed and I felt obliged to say something.

 

“Tonks, you have to understand that we all thought Sirius was the Secret Keeper for James and Lily Potter.  Every one of us.  Even Dumbledore.  We had no idea Sirius had switched the role to Peter.  Peter’s supposed murder just added to what we thought.”

 

She did not look as if she believed me.

 

“I lost Lily, James, Sirius and Peter that night,” I said quietly.  “The worst of it was, I didn’t understand why.  I couldn’t reconcile the idea of Sirius as a traitor with what I knew of him.  In the end, I had to accept it.  We all did.  There seemed no other answer.”

 

“But there was,” she said in a low, fierce voice.

 

I caught Tonks by the arm.  “Don’t you think I wish we’d found out the truth back then?  Don’t you think I wish I could give Sirius those years back?  Of course I do.  Those years were so empty and painful for me.  I can‘t begin to imagine what Sirius went through.  All I know is that now he‘s back, I don‘t intend to see his life taken away from him again.  Not if I can help it.”

 

I’d said more and spoken more passionately about how I felt than I had to anyone even Sirius.  Something in Tonks’s eyes made me want to convince her.

 

Whether it was the manner or what I actually said that did the job, I don’t know.  The cool look faded away and was replaced a warmth and friendliness that pleased me.

 

I still had my hand on her arm and she reached up and squeezed it.

 

“I’m glad he has you.”

 

 

2)  Someone who accepts me completely and without question

 

It was mayhem at Grimmauld Place.  The Weasleys had arrived and Mrs Black was protesting at the top of her painted lungs.

 

I had retreated to the kitchen to prepare a pot of tea but before I had chance to do so, Fred and George barrelled through the door and came to an abrupt halt in front of me.

 

Professor Lupin! said one of them whom I was almost certain was George.

 

Ron told us-

 

But he gets things wrong-

 

And we were just wonderingis it true?

 

They stood looking at me, eyes wide.

 

I felt my face tighten.  It certainly wasnt the first time I had had to explain my situation to someone who had known me but not known about me.  I was also aware that curiosity was a key characteristic in any teenage boy let alone the twins for whom it was second nature.  It was the unhealthy fascination with which they were regarding me which was disappointing: I had thought them above that.

 

Yes, its true, I acknowledged with a tight smile.  I am a werewolf.

 

They blinked in unison.

 

Oh, that, George said.  We know that.  Were talking about the Marauders Map.  Is it true youre Moony?

 

It was my turn to blink.

 

Yes, I managed, my face relaxing into a genuine smile.  Yes, Im Moony.

 

Wow, said Fred.  Just…“

 

Wow,  George finished and I realised it was not with prurience they had been looking at me but awe.

 

Before they could say anything else, Molly’s voice rang out.  “Fred!  George!  I need you here and I need you now!”

 

Rolling their eyes and muttering curses under their breath they disappeared.

 

“I didn’t know that.”

 

I started.  Tucked up in a corner, her cloak around her sat Tonks.

 

“Keeping out of Molly’s way,“ she said by way of explanation.  “I didn’t know you were a werewolf,” she continued and all the awkwardness which had just left me came flooding back.

 

“Does that make a difference?” I asked, part of me surprised to find that I desperately didn’t want it to.

 

“Nope.  Just makes you more interesting,”  She smiled.  She hesitated then said softly: “It’s not easy being different, is it?”

 

Not pity!  Anything but pity!  I opened my mouth to mutter the usual platitudes when she stood up, her hair rippling through various styles and colours - red curls, black spikes, peacock blue ringlets, silver bob - before returning to the violet cut which framed her face.

 

“You’re a Metamorphagus,” I said stupidly.

 

She grinned.  “I know.”

 

“I didn’t.”

 

“Does it make a difference?”  She arched an eyebrow at me.  “I was born one.  Gave me a headstart when it came to Auror training.”

 

“I can imagine.”

 

“I did think about other careers.  I told my dad I wanted to be a Muggle air stewardess.  He told me my worst qualities were my nimbleness and athleticism and that my first and probably last planeload of passengers would leave at the double for the nearest dry cleaners.”

 

I laughed.

 

“Employment prospects for werewolves are somewhat limited.”

 

“I can imagine,”  she echoed.

 

“Remus!”  Molly’s voice pierced the air.

 

“She needs you there,” Tonks said helpfully, “and she needs you now.”

 

3)  Someone with the same likes and dislikes

 

The Order were gathering.  Sirius, Tonks and I were standing together chatting about nothing very much.  I was just thinking how comfortable it all felt when we were interrupted.

 

“Nymphadora.  I haven’t seen you since Hogwarts.”  It was Snape.  “A pleasure,” he said extending his hand, his tone belying his words.

 

Tonks shook it briefly.  I did not need to look to know that Sirius was scowling over my shoulder.

 

“The Order brings strange bedfellows together,” Snape went on, “An Auror, a convict and a werewolf…”

 

“Sounds like the start to a joke, doesn’t it?”  Tonks said cheerfully.

 

Snape ignored her.


“In the course of your normal duties, Nymphadora, I suppose you would be hunting these two down...”  He looked at Sirius.  “Imprisoning them in Azkaban…” His gaze locked on to me.  “Or executing them…”

 

I felt Sirius start forward but before I could say anything, Tonks jumped in:

 

“You’re quite right.  There’s no picking or choosing who you work with in the Order.  It’s like teachers.  You just get landed with them.  Even if they’re the most vicious, snide, nasty-minded individuals you could ever hope to meet.”

 

Snape’s mouth drew itself into a very thin line.

 

“But for the record,” Tonks went on, “ I’m proud to be working with Sirius and Remus.”  She emphasised our names; the implication was that there were others she was less happy to have as colleagues.

 

“I see,” Snape said shortly and left us.

 

Tonks looked round at the two of us.

 

“Sorry but he was my least favourite person at school,” she said with fervour, “and that includes Polly Choat who told everyone I was made out of bewitched plasticine.”

 

“There’s no need to apologise,” I assured her.

 

Sirius was grinning widely.  “He was never top of our Christmas card list either.”

 

4)  Someone who cares about the same things I do

 

Tea’s up.

 

Startled, I turned round in my chair.

 

In the doorway of the little first floor study stood Tonks, mug in one hand and cup and saucer in the other.

 

She entered the room and carefully put the cup and saucer down on the desk in front of me.

 

I brought you a cuppa, she said unnecessarily.  Molly thinks youre working too hard.  I do, too, she added, plonking herself down on the floor unceremoniously.

 

I turned my chair to face her, rubbing the bridge of my nose as I did so.   I could indeed do with a break, I decided; the ancient texts made you work hard before they gave up their secrets.  I looked down at the tea: almost all of it was inside the cup.

 

Theres ginger nuts, Tonks declared, delving into the pockets of her robes.  She produced five and a half biscuits and kneeling up, pushed three of them across the desk at me.

 

I studied the biscuits which had a light dusting of fluff and was about to decline them when I caught sight of the look in Tonkss eyes.  This was nothing to do with tea and biscuits: she wanted to talk. 

 

“Sirius,” I guessed picking up a biscuit and she nodded.

 

“He hates it here you know.  No one else seems to understand or care but I can see how miserable he is.  You must have noticed.”

 

“Yes.  It’s prison once more,”  I agreed, dipping the ginger nut into the tea and munching thoughtfully.

 

“Dumbledore won’t listen.  He just won’t let Sirius out.”

 

“I know.  I’ve tried to persuade him.”

 

She looked up at me with a worried frown.  “What can we do?”

 

“Well,“ I said slowly, “it isn’t the answer but it may help in the short-term if I move in here.  At least then he’ll have some company.”

 

Tonks’s face lit up.  “That would be terrific!  I mean there are always people in and out of here but it’s night-time when he’s on his own…”

 

I reached for another biscuit.  “I’ll ask Sirius if he minds-”

 

“He won’t!” she beamed.

 

I smiled back and a little conspiracy was born between us.

 

5)  Someone who makes me smile

 

Christmas night.  Tonks had joined us at tea time and a new member of the Order, Fleur Delacoeur, had also arrived at Bill’s invitation having expressed a desire to experience an “Eenglish” Christmas.  Molly and the children were in bed and the two late visitors were sitting with Bill, Sirius and myself in the sitting room. 

 

The fire was lit and the five of us were working our way through a case of Firewhisky.

 

“My father ‘s taste in wine and whisky was always good,” Sirius said, opening another bottle and topping up all the glasses.  “The one thing about him that was.”

 

I sipped the rich liquid and felt it coat my throat with warm velvet.  It was without doubt the most expensive and most exquisite alcohol I had tasted.

 

“Zis ees jus’ wonderful,” said Fleur, eyes bright.  She was sat on the old dragonhide sofa next to Bill.  They had started off the evening at opposite ends of it but a few glasses of Firewhisky later, Fleur was snuggling into Bill’s side and Bill in turn had his arm loosely round her shoulder.  I smiled inwardly and wondered if Molly and Arthur were aware of this entente cordiale.

 

Sirius sat in the armchair in the centre of the room, dispensing drinks in his role as genial host.  Tonks was perched on the wide arm of my chair, closest to the fire.  Every now and then, she would reach down and put another log on the fire or wield a poker to revive it.  She hadn’t said much all evening but I supposed that like myself, she was happy to sit and listen to the others.

 

“To the ancient and most noble cellar of the House of Black,” Sirius proposed.

 

“I’ll drink to that,” I quickly seconded and we all drank.

 

After that, the toasts flew thick and fast: the silly - “To life, liberty and the pursuit of You-Know-Who” (Sirius), the flirtatious - “To Anglo-French relations” (Bill), the sincere if uninspired - “To ze makers of zis wonderful whiskee” (Fleur), the serious - “To those we care about” (me) -  and the cryptic “To those who don’t know we care” (Tonks).

 

“Where ees zat ‘orrible leetle elf Bill tol’ me about?” Fleur asked suddenly.

 

“Yes, where is Kreacher?”  Bill asked.  “I thought the air was distinctly sweeter.”

 

Sirius shrugged.  “I expect he’s sulking somewhere.  Suits me.  If he were here now, we’d just see his sullen face and have to listen to him moaning.”

 

“Mistress would not like this,” said a voice.

 

We all turned.  Tonks had slipped off her chair to attend to the fire and as we watched, her features transformed into those of the unhelpful house elf.

 

“Mistress would not let the precious bottles be drunk!  She would not permit it to disappear down such undeserving throats!”

 

We all laughed and Tonks launched into an impromptu monologue.  She became Mrs Black, bewailing the arrival of filth and half-breeds and foreigners in her house; she was Emmeline, pretending to scold Sirius and calling him “a wicked boy”; she was Molly, summoning Sirius and myself to help with imaginary doxies; and then Professor McGonagall, advising Bill on his career choices.

 

Tonks was a clever mimic.  She had people’s mannerisms and vocabulary down pat.  I found myself breathless with laughter as “Minerva” urged Bill to consider Blast Ended Skrewt Wrangling as a viable option.

 

“I have known many students who have turned their hands to this line of work and who have found great fulfilment,” she said.  “Of course, they have also found they have slightly fewer fingers on their hands than when they started.”

 

Amid the general laughter, Fleur suddenly let out an enormous yawn.

 

“I am so sorry!” she apologised.  “Oh, do go on, Tonks, you are ‘ilarious!”

 

But Tonks had become Tonks once more.

 

“You’re right,” she said, straightening up.  “It is late.  And it‘s been a long day.”

 

“Time for bed, I think,” said Sirius, draining his glass.  “Tonks - you know your room.  Bill, Fleur, I’ll just show you the guest rooms.”

 

As the three disappeared through the door, Tonks bent down over the fire.  I couldn‘t see her face properly, just the edge, licked by firelight.

 

“Are you all right, Tonks?” I asked.  “Only you’ve been quiet all evening.”

 

She didn‘t answer for a moment then when she did speak it was barely a whisper.

 

“It‘s the attack on Arthur.”  

 

I leaned forward in my chair, puzzled.  “What about it?”

 

There was a pause and then:

 

“I’m just so glad it wasn’t-”

 

“Moony!”  Sirius came back into the room.  “Tonks!  Are you ready to hit the sack?  Or do you want me to crack open another bottle?”

 

I sat there in silence looking stupidly at Tonks.  What had she been going to say?  Did she want to talk further?  I didn’t know what to do.

 

Tonks turned to face us. 

 

“I’m really tired, Sirius.  I’m going to head on up.  Goodnight, both of you.” 

 

And she left without another word.

 

6)  Someone who feels they can confide in me

 

New Year’s Day was miserable.  Rain sheeted down through London hitting the pavements in hard needles.  I scurried into Grimmauld Place, clutching the bag of provisions.

 

Sirius was in the hall.

 

“Took your time,” he said.  “How did you get on?”

 

“Took me forever to find a shop that was open,” I explained.  I peered into the bag.  “Meat pie, pork chops, sausages, vegetables.  And, er…”

 

Sirius pounced on the hesitation.

 

“And?  And?”

 

“Chocolate profiteroles.” 

 

He grinned. 

 

“You can stay.  I’m off to see to Buckbeak.  Tonks is down there by the way,”  he said, jerking his thumb in the direction of the kitchen.

 

“Tonks?”

 

Sirius shrugged.

 

“Turned up just after you’d left.  Doesn’t seem herself, actually.  Mind you, this weather’s enough to get anybody down.”

 

He headed up the stairs and I headed to the kitchen.  Tonks was sitting at the table, mug of tea in hand.

 

“Wotcher, Remus,” she said.  Her voice lacked its usual bounce.

 

“I thought you were with your parents for New Year.”

 

“Mum and Dad have gone off to see Dad’s folks in Spain.  It is OK to be here, isn’t it?” she asked suddenly.

 

“Of course.”  I looked in the bag.  “Meat pie will go three ways.  Just don’t eat too many profiteroles.  They’re Sirius’s favourites.”

 

“I promise,” she smiled.  “Can I help?”

 

I hesitated momentarily.  Tonks’s enthusiasm and willingness sometimes outstripped the actual help.  On the other hand, it seemed unlikely she could go far wrong peeling carrots.

 

We stood side by side preparing the vegetables.  I debated whether or not to break the silence; it was comfortable but I felt there were things unsaid between us.

 

In the end I settled for:

 

“Are you OK?”

 

Tonks concentrated on the carrot in front of her.

 

“Only at Christmastime, it seemed as if you wanted to talk about something…” I tailed off aware that of the many ways I could have broached the subject of that Christmas half-conversation, I had chosen by far the clumsiest.

 

There was a silence which seemed to last for minutes.  Just when I thought I was going to have to break it, Tonks let out a heavy sigh.

 

“I’m just being stupid,” she said, giving the carrot a savage chop.  “I know what the Order’s about.  I knew when I joined.  It’s just that up until Arthur was attacked, I hadn’t really thought about the danger.  Not to me, I don’t mean me,” she added hastily.  “To those around me.  What happened to Arthur brought it all home.”

 

I picked up another potato and started peeling it as I thought about how to answer this.

 

“James had a Great-Aunt Violet.  She had Seer blood.”

 

Tonks looked up, startled at this non-sequitur.

 

“James told me about a funny turn she had just after his wedding.  She started talking about death and treachery amongst the Order.  She was quite right as it happened,” I gave a half-smile.

 

“James started worrying about what would happen if he died or Lily was killed or anything happened to Sirius, Peter or me.”

 

Tonks had put down her knife and was looking at me intensely.

 

“He spoke to Sirius about how he felt.  So now I’m going to repeat to you what Sirius said.”

 

I put down my knife and faced her.

 

“We know what we’re doing is right, don’t we?”

 

She nodded mutely.

 

So if we fall, I went on, it will be for something we believe in.  And whoevers left will look after each other.  Its as simple as that. It isn’t any use worrying about what might happen.  We need to take each day as it comes.

 

She looked as if she was considering this advice.

 

“But what if no one’s left?” she said eventually.  “You didn’t have anyone.”

 

“No, no, that’s true,” I smiled at her damn logic.  “Well, perhaps I bear witness to the fact that you can survive.  Even when everything and everyone you care about it gone.”

 

She nodded slowly. 

 

“You’re right,” she said.  “Live each day for what it is.  Make sure those you care about know it.  Don’t be frightened of losing them.”

 

She gave me a stare and I felt as if she were waiting for me to say something.

 

“Exactly,” I agreed. “Now let’s get on with this veg.”

 

She gave a small sigh and a smile and turned back to the chopping board.

 

 

7)  Someone who can surprise me

 

It was March.  Spring had reached even Grimmauld Place.  Tired trees had pushed forth green leaves, straggly daffodils were in bloom and even wispy honeysuckle that had looked a lost cause two months ago had come back to life.

 

As I closed the door to number 12, I was immediately covered in silvery dust accompanied by a noisy cheer and a chorus of “Happy Birthday”, marred only by Mrs Black’s shrieks of fury.

 

Tonks and Sirius stood there, grinning.

 

“Happy birthday, Moony!” Sirius said, enveloping me in a bear hug.

 

“Wotcher, Remus!”  Tonks planted an emphatic kiss on my cheek.  “Did you think we’d forget?”

 

“It’s all very unexpected,” I confessed, thinking to myself that that included the kiss.

 

“It’s all right, it’s only me and Tonks,” Sirius said hurriedly, anticipating my next question.  “We just thought we’d surprise you.”

 

“Close your eyes,” Tonks commanded.

 

I did so and the pair of them led me giggling down the stairs to the basement kitchen.

 

“You can look now,” said Sirius.

 

I stared open-mouthed at the table, laden with sausage rolls, cheese and pineapple on sticks, crisps, sandwiches - all manner of party food.  In the middle, was a cake.  It had been decorated with the words “HAPPY BIRTHDA” and six candles.

 

“Sirius made it,” Tonks said.

 

“Thanks for the warning.”

 

“It was all Tonks’s idea.”

 

I frowned.

 

“What happened to the ‘Y’?”

 

“Ran out of room,” Sirius admitted.  “Figured you’d probably work it out.”

 

“I was going to put on a candle for every year,” Tonks said solemnly, “but Sirius said it would present a fire hazard.”

 

“Thank you, child.”  I rolled my eyes.  “You’ll be old too someday, you know.”

 

“I’ll never catch you up,” she replied smartly and ducked out of the way of the mock-cuff I aimed at her.

 

“Didn’t your parents bring you up to respect your elders and betters?” I scolded.  “Irreverent ragamuffin!”

 

“Cards and presents,” she said placatingly and held up a package and an envelope.  Sirius did the same.

 

I opened the cards first.  They were both handmade.  Sirius had drawn a cartoon of himself saying: “I like you for what you are”.  Inside it read: “Older than me”.

 

“Not by much,” I retorted.

 

Tonks’s card was a neat sketch of me flying on a broomstick.  She had captured me very well, worn robes, grey hairs and all.  She had charmed it so that the figure was moving through the air, wind blowing its robes and ruffling its hair. 

 

“I didn’t know you could draw,” I said, staring down at the card.  “It’s brilliant.”

 

Tonks flushed.

 

“Well, Sirius was making his card so I thought I should.  Presents now,” she demanded.

 

I opened hers first.  It was a smart, new quill, most welcome as  I had broken the nib on my old one a few days earlier.

 

“Thanks,” I said, delighted.

 

“Mine next,” said Sirius and he pushed a parcel into my hand.

 

It was an old photograph of Sirius, James and myself inside a mahogany frame.

 

“Third year.  Hallowe’en weekend trip to Hogsmeade,” he said and I nodded.

 

“Peter was recovering from some illness-”

 

“- Hetherington’s cough -”

 

“- that’s why he’s not there…” I tailed off as I looked at the faces from a time and a place so long ago.

 

“Found it upstairs in my old room.  They destroyed my things when I moved out but this was stuck at the back of a bookcase.  I wanted you to have it as a reminder of…well, of everything.”

 

Of hope, love, friendship, innocence…everything.

 

“Thanks,” I said simply.

 

Tonks peered down at the three boys who promptly stuck their tongues out at her.  She retaliated in kind then said:

 

“Was I even born when this was taken?”

 

Sirius and I exchanged glances then he picked up a nearby sausage roll and I armed myself with a sandwich.

 

“We will have you know, Nymphadora Tonks, that neither of us are as ancient as you believe,” I said reprovingly.

 

“Furthermore, unless you wish to engage in all out food warfare, with two champions of the art, you will kindly refrain from further remarks highlighting the age difference between us,” Sirius added sternly.

 

“All right, all right,” Tonks giggled.  “I spent too long buttering bread to see it all over the floor.  Although-” she grimaced as I bit into the sandwich I was holding.

 

“Although what?” I asked, mouth half-full.

 

“You might want to skip the cheese ones.  I dropped the loaf on the floor when I was making them,” she confessed.  “Some of them may be a bit…gritty.”

 

 

 

8)  Someone I can talk to

 

It was about six weeks after my birthday.  I sat at my desk ostensibly trying to fathom a problematic text.  In reality, I had stared at the same page for some time without registering the letters and symbols.

 

Sighing, I reached down to find a reference book in the heaps around my feet and found Tonks, knees drawn up under her chin sitting against the wall.

 

“Hello,” I said, surprised.  “I didn’t hear you come in.  How long have you been there?”

 

“A while.  I was going to say something but you looked like you were concentrating and I didn’t want to interrupt.”

 

She nodded at the quill in my hand.

 

“Is it OK?”

 

“It’s the one I would have chosen for myself.”

 

She looked pleased.  She hesitated then said:

 

“I wasn’t sure if you were working on that stuff or not.  You seemed to be a million miles away, really.”

 

I smiled.  I reached forward and picked up the photo Sirius had given me for my birthday.  The three boys in it were busy pulling faces.

 

“Actually, I was thinking about Hogwarts.  Sirius and I spoke to Harry yesterday.”

 

And I told her about what Harry had seen in Snape’s Pensieve.

 

“Serves Snape right!” she snorted.  “What a horrible git!  Even when Lily was trying to help him!”

 

“Yes,” I said sadly.  “Yes, he could be obnoxious beyond words.”

 

Tonks looked at me.

 

“But…?”

 

I sighed.

 

“Severus Snape did nothing to help himself at school.  He spouted ignorant rubbish about Hogwarts being for purebloods.  He was malevolent and spiteful and he had a running grudge with Sirius, James, Peter and myself.”

 

“Doesn’t sound like he changed much when he got older,” said Tonks with feeling.

 

“However, that particular incident was one which upset me greatly.  Because I was the Prefect, you see.   I should have stepped in, I should have stopped James and Sirius before they started, before the whole incident escalated.  But I didn’t.  I knew I should have done.  I should have said something, I should have stopped the attack which was not provoked.  But I didn’t.  I sat, frozen on the grass, pretending to read a book, as if as long as I didn’t look up, the confrontation wasn’t going to happen.”

 

I looked down at the photo, at another me, another time.

 

“When Lily stood up to James and Sirius that day, I was ashamed. Ashamed because she was saying what I knew I should be saying.”

 

“Then why didn’t you?”  Tonks asked gently.  “What were you so worried about?”

 

I was silent.  How could I explain what it was like?  What I had been like? 

 

“I didn’t want to lose their friendship,” I said eventually.  “It meant everything to me.  Before I came to Hogwarts, I was on my own.  Always.  I didn’t want to go back there.”

 

“But if they were your friends…”

 

“Sirius and James could make life awkward.  There were times when the atmosphere in our dorm was distinctly chilly.  If I’d defended Snape…”

 

“You thought they would never speak to you again.”

 

I nodded. 

 

“I can’t explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it but the sheer joy of belonging, of having friends where you’ve never had them before…it’s intoxicating.  You don’t want to lose that feeling.  I didn’t want to lose that feeling.”

 

“If they could be so difficult, weren’t you worried they’d tell everyone you were a werewolf?”

 

“To begin with.  They didn’t really think things through.  And they had no idea of the impact of their actions on others.  They could have ended my time at Hogwarts with one word.”

 

“What changed?”

 

I gave a sigh.

 

“If you don’t want to tell me it’s fine,” she said quickly.

 

“No, no, it’s OK, it’s just old history.  There was a prank that went wrong.  Sirius sent Snape to find me one full moon.  He just meant to scare him.  He didn’t think any further than giving Snape the fright of his life and he thought he would turn back long before he reached me.”

 

“What!”  Tonks looked as if she could hardly believe her ears.

 

“Luckily, James had the sense to imagine the consequences if Snape actually did find me.  He went after Snape and saved him.  After that, both James and Sirius changed.  They started to think more about how their actions affected other people.  I stopped worrying.”

 

Tonks sat in silence, digesting the story.

 

“Do me a favour,” I said, “and don’t mention it to Sirius.  Even after all these years, he still feels guilty.  He still thinks Snape deserved to meet a werewolf just not a werewolf he knows and cares about.  He learnt his lesson.”

 

“If Snape had been bitten,” Tonks asked slowly, “what would have happened to you?”

 

“Execration, expulsion, execution,” I said lightly.

 

“But it wouldn’t have been your fault!”  she said with indignation.  “That’s so unfair!”

 

I laughed.


“Welcome to the world of the werewolf.  ‘Fair’ never comes into it.”

 

I sat the photo back on the table.

 

“Sirius would lay down his life for his friends.  He would back then and he would now.  So would I.  So would James and believe it or not, there was a time when I would have said that of Peter too.  I just wished I’d had the courage to test that friendship once in a while by speaking out.”

 

Tonks kneeled up and took my hand.

 

“It’s in the past, Remus.  You’ve just told me that Sirius learned from poor choices he made and that he doesn’t need reminding.  Listen to your own advice.  Stop picking at the memory like it’s some sort of scab.  You were a young boy then, you’re a man now.  More importantly, you know yourself.  It’s not to say you won’t act this way again - you’re only human after all - but let this go.”

 

Our faces were very close and all of a sudden, the room seemed very hot.  I could feel my cheeks flushing.  The heat was almost tangible.  All I could focus on was her face and I suddenly found myself thinking about the kiss on the cheek she’d given me on my birthday.  I was conscious of her lips, slightly parted, inviting and I started wondering what it would be like to kiss those lips, to press my mouth to hers, to gather her to me…

 

With an immense effort, I sat back in my chair, putting distance between us.  Tonks sat back on her heels.

 

“You’re very wise,” I said hoarsely with a weak smile.

 

She blinked a couple of times.  Had she felt what I’d felt?  Then she pulled her face into familiar features.

 

“Who needs Dumbledore?”

 

 

 

9)  Someone with bravery and compassion in equal measures

 

Dumbledore had called a meeting.  Kingsley and Moody had already arrived and were sitting in the kitchen which by virtue of the fact that Mrs Black had rarely set foot in it, was by far the cheeriest room at Grimmauld Place.

 

A thump in the hall accompanied by a stream of eloquent foulness from Mrs Black suggested the arrival of Tonks.

 

“I’ll go,” I volunteered.

 

The umbrella stand was rolling on its side at the foot of the stairs.  Tonks was trying in vain to tug the black curtains across the portrait.

 

“Blood-filth!  Spawn of a Mudblood!”

 

“Let me help,” I said, grabbing one side.

 

Struggling, we managed to haul the curtains together.

 

“I swear Kreacher puts something on that curtain pole to stop them closing,” Tonks panted.

 

“He’s certainly the one that opens them up,” I agreed, breathing heavily.  “We’d just leave her covered up all the time otherwise.”

 

It was the first time I’d seen her since the almost-kiss.  I’d convinced myself that I’d imagined it all.  What on earth was I thinking?  The last thing a young girl like Tonks needed was a poor, old werewolf. 

 

Standing with her in the hall, however, I was surprised to find a lingering trace of electricity between us.  I’d never noticed before how marvellously intense her eyes were.  She would never need Veritaserum: it would be impossible to lie to those eyes. 

 

“What are you thinking, Remus?” she asked.

 

I opened and shut my mouth a couple of times and then was saved by an exclamation from the kitchen.

 

We headed down the steps: standing in front of the kitchen sink, wreathed in silvery-green flames, was Snape.

 

Tonks could not suppress a gasp; Kingsley looked taken aback;  Moody, whom nothing fazed, inclined his head by way of acknowledgement; Sirius and I merely exchanged glances: Snape had been performing this particular means of apparition since his seventh year at Hogwarts.

 

Its not convenient for me to use the normal channels of communication,  the image of Snape began, ignoring the usual pleasantries as was his wont.  So I decided projection was probably the quickest and best method.

 

Certain that he had our attention, he went on: Professor Umbridge appears to have overstepped the mark somewhat.  Shes taken it upon herself to interrogate Potter, Granger and some of the other children-

 

Harry?  Sirius broke in sharply.  What was she-?

 

As I was saying, Snape cut across him, his eyes daring Sirius to interrupt him again.  She was interrogating Potter and the others in her office and asked me to prepare some Veritaserum-

 

You didnt give her any, did you?  Tonks could not help herself.

 

Listen!  Snape snapped.  She found Potter using her fire to communicate with someone.  Did he speak to you, Black?

 

Sirius shook his head.  I havent spoken to Harry for a while.

 

Really.

 

Snape put a wealth of meaning into the word and I laid a hand on Siriuss arm, sensing his temper rising.

 

Go on, Severus, I encouraged.

 

Snape looked a little disappointed that the bait had not been taken but continued: 

 

Well, he was probably trying to reach here.  He seems convinced that you are in trouble.  As I was leaving, he shouted out Hes got Padfoot at the place where its hidden.  I recognised your ridiculous nickname and took it to mean he believes you're being held at the Ministry of Magic.  I cast a quick Searching Spell and of course you were still here in hiding.  Naturally.

 

Voldemort, Moody said instantly.  Hes realised the connection and hes using it to his advantage.

 

Hes setting a trap for Harry, Kingsley agreed.  They want him to go to the Ministry-

 

And theyll be waiting for him, breathed Tonks.

 

I never thought that Dolores Umbridge would be Harrys saviour, I said,  but while hes with her, hes safe-

 

Quiet, all of you!  Sirius growled.  He was staring intently at Snape.  What havent you told us?

 

His face unreadable, Snape shrugged.  

 

I understand that Potter and Granger led Professor Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest.  The other children escaped.  None of them have been seen since.  I plan to search the Forest but if theyre not there…”  He left the thought dangling.

 

There was a moments silence as the others digested this then I said slowly:

 

If Harrys free…”

 

“…hell head to the Ministry, Sirius finished, jumping to his feet.  We need to get there fast!

 

The others rose also.

 

I think it unwise that you all charge in recklessly, said Snape smoothly.   Especially you, Black.  If the others arrive at the Ministry in your company it may raise some awkward questions.

 

He has got a point, Kingsley conceded.

 

Does Dumbledore know?  Moody suddenly asked.

 

I believe hes expected at any moment with you, Snape remarked.  Someone should stay behind to explain what has happened.  Given yourlack of front-line experience, Black, you would probably be the best candidate.

 

Hes right, Sirius, Tonks ventured.  The last thing we want is for you to be captured and taken to Azkaban again.

 

Or worse, Kingsley said softly.

 

Stay here, boy, advised Moody.  Tell Dumbledore.

 

Sirius glanced at the other three and then finally at me.  An observant onlooker might have caught the briefest raised eyebrow from Sirius and the faintest frown in response from me.  I looked away, seeing the implacable resolve in Siriuss eyes and knowing that the battle was already lost.

 

Not a chance,  Sirius announced grimly, fiery purpose cascading through him for the first time in months.  Kreacher can tell Dumbledore everything he needs to know.  Harry is all that matters.

 

I nodded, lending Sirius my support.  So lets find him.

 

Snape cleared his throat.  I still think-

 

Run along and play in the Forest, Snape, Sirius said brusquely. 

 

Watch out for any Dark Creatures, I added.

 

Snape pursed his lips and vanished.

 

Tonks looked like she wanted to protest but quickly realised the futility of doing so: a conclusion both Moody and Kingsley had already reached - the one through familiarity and the other through judgement of character.

 

Sirius wasted no time in summoning an oddly gleeful Kreacher and instructing him to tell Dumbledore what had happened.

 

We exited the house and stood on the edge of Grimmauld Place.

 

“Let’s Apparate to the entrance of the Department of Mysteries,” Kingsley suggested.  “That’s where Harry will be headed.”

 

“Agreed,” Moody said.

 

“We’re wasting time,” snapped Sirius.

 

The three of them disappeared.  As I prepared to follow suit, I felt a tug on my sleeve.

 

“Be careful,” Tonks said fiercely.  “You and Sirius - if you get caught - Snape’s right - one of you should wait for Dumbledore - suppose the Ministry find you there - find Sirius there - they’ll act first and ask questions later -”

 

“Tonks!”  I said loudly to stem the machine-gun flow of words.  “Firstly, nothing on this earth is going to keep Sirius or myself away if Harry is in danger and secondly, it’s OK to be frightened.”

 

Her eyes went wide with indignation.

 

“I’m not afraid!”  she denied hotly.

 

“Oh, not for yourself,” I said hurriedly.  “You’re frightened the same way I am.  Because this is it.  And people we care about are involved.”

 

She exhaled and nodded.

 

I smiled, leaned forward and kissed her chastely on the forehead.

 

“Be careful yourself, Nymphadora Tonks.”

 

And we Apparated.

 

 

10)  Someone I can’t imagine life without

 

The flurry of battle…Kingsley duelling two Death Eaters…no sign of Tonks or Moody…Sirius and Bellatrix up on the dais…Lucius Malfoy threatening Harry and Neville…

 

“Harry, round up the others and GO!”

 

“Dumbledore’s pet werewolf!  Let’s see what you’re made of, vermin.”

 

Shouts and gasps…Dumbledore’s arrival…Death Eaters defeated…Sirius ducking a shot from Bellatrix…”You’ll have to do better than that”…

 

And then she did.  Her shot caught him smack on the chest and he fell backward in one long, slow, balletic movement and disappeared through the veil.

 

Suddenly, Harry was charging past me.  I grabbed him and held him fast as he struggled, calling Sirius’s name.

 

“He’s gone,” I managed.  “He’s d-”

 

“NO!” Harry’s desperate denial. 

 

As he sprinted from the room in furious pursuit of Bellatrix, I watched him go as if I were on autopilot; there but not there.

 

While the climax to the battle raged elsewhere, I remember walking up to the veil and staring at it.

 

“He’s gone,” said Kingsley at my shoulder, echoing my own words to Harry.

 

“I know,” I whispered.

 

“One less blood traitor to worry about,” Malfoy called out from where he sat, held in thrall by Dumbledore’s spell.

 

I ignored him.  I forced the anger back down inside me. I would deal with the grief, denial, rage and all other emotions later.  I would not give Malfoy and the others satisfaction.  Right now, I was going to-

 

“NO!”  The word was ripped from me.  I could see Moody bending over a motionless figure that I knew with stomach-churning certainty had to be Tonks and the world stopped for me again.

 

*

 

“How are they, Madame Pomfrey?”

 

“Remus, dear, I’ve told you before, please call me Poppy.”

“I know, I - how are they?”

 

I was sitting on the edge of a bed at Hogwarts’ sanatorium.  Dumbledore had insisted we come to be checked over.

 

“Kingsley’s fine as are you,” Poppy said briskly, drawing back the curtains around my cubicle. 

 

Kingsley sat on the next bed, a look of resignation writ large across his face.

 

“Moody?  How‘s he doing?”  he asked.

 

“I am absolutely in the prime of life,” growled a familiar voice from the cubicle opposite me. 

 

Poppy tutted and shook her head and then drew back the curtains to reveal Moody, standing upright, his magical eye swivelling irritably in its socket.

 

“Alastor Moody, I told you to sit on the bed,” Poppy said reprovingly.

 

“I feel-”

 

“I do not care what you feel, you will do as you’re told,” Poppy said, gently but firmly pushing him back on the bed.  “Your wounds may be superficial but you’re still staying here overnight for observation.  You’ve had a nasty time of it and I want you to have some rest.  Now, lie down.”

 

Grumbling, Moody did as he was told.

 

I only had eyes for the fourth bed, still screened from view.

 

“Tonks,” I said in a low voice.  “What’s the matter with her?”

 

Poppy sighed.

 

“She’s been hit with a Solidifying Curse.  It’s working its way from the outside in.  She needs medical attention that I can’t offer.  She needs to go to St Mungo’s.”

 

“I’ll take her,” Kingsley and I offered in unison.

 

Poppy smiled.

 

“It only needs one of you.”

 

Kingsley and I looked at each other.

 

“If you’re happy to take her,” he said slowly, “I should get back to the Ministry to file a report.”

 

“Fine,” I said hurriedly.

 

Kingsley stood up and took his leave.  Moody watched his exit longingly.  He looked as if the last thing he wanted to do was spend a night under observation.

 

Poppy pulled back the curtains around Tonks’s bed.  Heart in mouth, I looked down at the motionless, pale figure.

 

Poppy conjured up a stretcher and levitated Tonks on to it.

 

“I’ll send an owl to her parents. You’ll need to take her down to the gates before you Apparate.”

 

“I know.”

 

“This contains all the details the Healers will need.”  She handed me a piece of parchment.  “Look after her, Remus.  I’m rather fond of Nymphadora.”

 

*

 

The walk down to the gates was one of the longest of my life.  The stretcher bobbed along beside me, Tonks’s pink hair laying limply around her face.  She might have been sleeping; only her ragged breathing gave away the fact that all was not well.

 

Inside, the emotions were bubbling through me.  I kept pushing away the knowledge that I would never see Sirius again; once I let that loose, I knew I would lose control.

 

The feelings I had regarding Tonks were not much safer.  I focused on the one thought: not Tonks, not this time.

 

*

 

The Healer at St Mungo’s had disappeared with Tonks and Poppy’s parchment.  I was standing uselessly in the corridor waiting for his return. 

 

“You must be Remus Lupin.”

 

I span round to find a petite, brown-haired witch standing there.  With her frank and open eyes and the determined set to her mouth, she could be only one person: Andromeda Tonks.

 

“Nymphadora has told us a lot about you,” she went on.  “This is my husband, Ted.”

 

A sturdy-looking man about my height, reached past his wife to shake my hand; his grip was deceptively strong.

 

I could hear myself babbling words of regret as if Tonks were already dead.

 

Andromeda smiled and shushed me gently.

 

“It’s all right, Remus.  We’ll take it from here.  Go and get some rest.  I think you need it.”

 

“Come back and see Nymphadora in the morning,” Ted offered.  “She’ll be glad to see a friend.”

 

The Healer appeared  at my shoulder.

 

“Nymphadora’s parents?  This way, please.”

 

He escorted them on to the ward and I was left staring stupidly after them.

 

 

//
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