The Sugar Quill
Author: jncarlin  Story: Drifting  Chapter: Chapter 1: Going Public
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Summary: “Being in love with Remus Lupin is nothing like what she expected…there are so many times when she has no idea what is going through his head

Author’s Notes: Thank you to my beta reader, Logical Quirk, for her ever-helpful Brit-picking and editing. And thanks to everyone who encouraged me to keep writing in this fic-verse.

 

Drifting

 

 

Chapter 1: Going Public

 

June

 

“Well, this is it,” says Sirius, leading them through the door into a dim entry hall. A hunched and wrinkled house elf wearing a tattered rag as a loincloth scampers toward them out of the shadows.

 

“Who intrudes my Mistress’s home?” it asks.

 

“Don’t you recognize your Master?” he replies.

 

It hisses. “Master Sirius. My Mistress hoped you would rot in Azkaban.”

 

“Good to see you, too, Kreacher.”

 

The elf trots down the hall and stops in front of a large painting. It faces the picture, and begins to mutter in low tones.

 

Tonks steps further into the entry hall, Remus at her elbow. Albus Dumbledore steps past them, surveying the surroundings carefully, his wand raised. “Be prepared. There’s no telling what we may encounter.”

 

She nods, and grips her own wand in her hand.

 

Suddenly, a wild shriek of rage emanates from the painting in front of the elf. Tonks jumps in surprise and stumbles against a large, grotesque umbrella-stand. It topples, and its contents clatter to the ground. At the sound, the shrieking intensifies, and finally gives way to words. “How dare my blood-traitor whelp seek refuge in these hallowed halls! How dare he seek to lay claim to this sacred place!”

 

The diatribe continues as Sirius strides toward the painting, looks up at it, and then turns back to them. He spreads his arms wide in a gesture of welcome, and shouts, “Home sweet home!”

 

It’s hours later when she and Remus finally sink down into the large red sofa that dominates the sitting room of her flat. “Merlin’s bones, am I happy to be out of that hell-hole,” she says.

 

He nods in agreement, but looks pensive. “What’s on your mind?” she asks.

 

“I was just…” He hesitates. “Sirius is going to have a hard time living there. He had a very unhappy childhood, and I could see that place bringing it all back. And on top of that, I know that Azkaban affected him more than he lets on. This might be too much for him.”

 

She sits listening quietly. In the week that she’s known him, Sirius has remained an enigma to her. One day he’ll be laughing and talking far too much, and the next he’ll withdraw from them completely, silently brooding. It’s hard to connect this strange specter of a man with the young, confident, witty friend that Remus has told her he once was.

 

“While you were upstairs with Dumbledore,” Remus continues, “Sirius asked if I’d move in with him—to help him get the place in order is what he said. But I suspect that he just wants the company.”

 

“Are you going to?”

 

“I think perhaps I should. He shouldn’t be left alone in that place. And I owe him.”

 

Remus doesn’t need to say why he owes Sirius. She knows full well that he still blames himself for Pettigrew’s escape, and all that has come of it. And she knows the fruitlessness of trying to convince him otherwise.

 

He hasn’t really answered her question. He seems to be waiting to gauge her reaction. She wishes he would just say what’s on his mind. Too many things remain unspoken in their relationship. Like the fact that another of his motives for moving might be the recent reduction in his income which is making it difficult for him to afford the rent on his flat. Or the fact the day before each full moon he bids her farewell, and she neither sees nor hears from him until one day after his transformation—in spite of the fact that his potion renders him perfectly harmless. And every time she tries to discuss these forbidden topics, he gets sullen and changes the subject as quickly as he can.

 

Being in love with Remus Lupin is nothing like what she expected. As wonderful as he is, there are so many times when she has no idea what is going through his head. And as much as she loves him, she doesn't dare tell him because she is still not sure that he feels the same way in return.

 

She wants to tell him that if he needs a cheaper place to live, she is ready and willing for him to move in with her—after all, he already stays over four or five nights every week. But she doesn’t dare push him. And she doesn't even want to think about what might happen if he said "no." So instead, she tells him, “If that’s how you feel, then you should do it. He really does need the company. That house is enough to drive anyone barmy, and he’s already got a head-start. Maybe with you there he can stay a little more grounded.”

 

His grateful smile reassures her that she made the right choice. He was clearly gearing up for another row, and is happy to have avoided it. He nods. “Good. I’ll do it then. I think I’ll start moving my things tomorrow, to get out of my flat as fast as I can. No sense in giving the landlord an excuse to charge me rent for July, is there?”

 

“Shall I help you?”

 

“No. I can manage. Besides, we don’t want to set the neighbors gossiping, do we?”

 

She bites her bottom lip, and shakes her head.

 

He raises an eyebrow at her. “This doesn’t upset you, does it? We’ll still see just as much of each other—maybe even more.”

 

She wants to tell him that it’s not his move to Sirius’s house that bothers her. She wants to shout that she doesn’t care if the neighbors start gossiping. They’re not going to be his neighbors much longer, are they? She’s tired of sneaking around, hiding their relationship from the world. She’s ready to make a public commitment to him, regardless of the consequences. She wants to say it all, and much more. But she doesn’t, because those are more of the things that must remain unspoken. At least, for now.

 

****

 

July

 

The first meeting of the new Order of the Phoenix is fascinating for her. The members are an odd assortment of characters—a mix of respected community members and social misfits. Tonks is happy to see Professor McGonagall, and surprised to see Professor Snape. She never would have picked him out as a member of this sort of organization.

 

After the meeting comes to a close, she chats with Molly and Arthur Weasley about their impending relocation to Grimmauld Place. She glances across the room, and smiles at Kingsley engaging in an animated conversation with Sirius and Remus. She’s sure they have a lot to say.

 

When Molly and Arthur excuse themselves, she turns to go join Remus and is surprised to find herself suddenly face to face with Professor Snape.

 

“It’s good to see you again, Miss Tonks,” he says.

 

“Professor Snape.” She smiles. “I confess I’m somewhat surprised to see you here.”

 

He sneers at her. “While I am not in the least surprised to see you. You always had the makings of good subversive. I am, however, surprised that you didn't expect me to see me here. I would have assumed that by now you'd have used your status as Auror to read my confidential file.”

 

“I assure you, it’s at the top of my to-do list for tomorrow.”

 

He laughs, a short, low chuckle. She raises her eyebrows in surprise. This may well be the first time she has ever heard him laugh. But his amusement doesn’t last long. “I’ll give you a few other files to look up while you’re at it,” he says, and rattles off more than a dozen names, most of which she recognizes as persons acquitted after the first war.

 

“Thank you. I’ll take a look at those files as soon as I can.”

 

“Good.” He gives a sharp nod. “I was pleased when I heard you’d successfully made it through the Auror training program. Some of your other teachers had their doubts—but I always knew you’d manage it, just like you managed to fight your way to an Outstanding on your Potions OWL and NEWT exams when you initially showed no natural aptitude whatsoever for Potion-brewing. If I had been scoring your exams, you might not have managed—but it was impressive, nonetheless.”

 

She supposes that this must be Snape’s bizarre way of extending her a compliment, so she nods warily. “Thank you, Professor.”

 

“That honorific is no longer necessary, Nymphadora. You may now address me as Severus.”

 

She bites her tongue to hold back laughter. Snape’s idea of small-talk is as graceless and off-putting as his teaching style.

 

“Yes. Of course…Severus.”

 

He nods curtly again. “Excellent. Should you ever have need of assistance with your investigations, do not hesitate to call on me.”

 

He really is a strange man. “Thank you, Severus. I’ll keep your offer in mind.”

 

He nods yet again. She wonders if that is his universal expression of approval—and should she be happy to have his approval? “Very good,” he says. “Now, I’ll take my leave of you.”

 

“Goodnight, Severus.”

 

And with yet another nod, he leaves the kitchen. She shakes her head at the bizarre encounter. Although he had stopped openly persecuting her after her Outstanding on her OWL, he had still not seemed overly fond of her. Yet this conversation seemed almost to be the words of a teacher pleased with the success of his former student. Strange. Very strange.

 

Still pondering Snape’s unexpected cordiality, she crosses the room to join Remus while trying carefully to avoid any overt signs of affection or preference. She is of the opinion that the members of the Order, of all people, will be accepting of their relationship—indeed several of them already know about their relationship. But Remus stubbornly continues to insist on keeping things quiet in public. There are moments when she wonders if he is somehow embarrassed of her. Yet he doesn’t seem at all embarrassed when they are alone with Sirius, or Kingsley, or Dumbledore.

 

When she joins him, he gives her the same friendly smile that he would have given to anyone in the Order. She tries to smile just as casually back, even as she wonders why, after a relationship of nearly three months and a friendship stretching back six months before that, he is still such a mystery to her.

 

****

 

August

 

She comes home tired after yet another long day. The past month and a half has been physically and mentally exhausting. Between long shifts at work and guard duty for the Order, she barely has any time to herself. And the disaster with Harry and the Dementor a few weeks ago hasn't helped matters any. She hopes that now that the Hearing is over, and Harry’s name cleared, that perhaps things will get easier. But only time will tell.

 

The hardest thing of all has been the strain on her relationship with Remus. His assurance that they would still see plenty of each other after his move to Grimmauld Place has proved woefully false. Between her work, their Order duties and the houseful of Weasleys they see very little of each other and have almost no private time together—the frustration of which is compounded by his continued insistence that they keep their relationship a secret from the children. She has had to resort to such tactics as using games of chess with Ron and Ginny just to be in the same room with him.

 

She tosses her work robe onto her sofa, and pours herself a glass of wine. What she needs right now is a quiet relaxing evening in a warm bath to take her mind off of her troubles. As she sips her wine she wonders, not for the first time, if Remus is deliberately avoiding her. If he is, she wishes that he would just chuck her and have done with it instead of dragging things out like this. She begins to feel tears forming in the corners of her eyes. She wipes them away fiercely with the back of her hand, and tries to convince herself that she’s being ridiculous. She’s just tired. Things will seem much better after a good night’s sleep.

 

She finishes her wine, ready to go to her bath, when suddenly there is a knock on her door. No one ever comes over this late. When she opens the door, she is shocked to see Remus standing there.

 

He gives her no time to think. He comes into the flat and takes her in his arms, smothering her greeting with his lips. He slams the door behind them, and pushes her up against the wall, kissing her hungrily, his hands caressing her eagerly in all the right places, sending tremors of excitement through her body. Her head is spinning. It feels like there is nothing on earth but him—the roughness of stubble against her cheeks, the warmth of hands caressing her skin, the scent of whiskey and parchment filling her nostrils. As he dips his head to trail kisses down her neck and chest she moans, and manages to gasp, “Hello to you too.”

 

A low, hoarse laugh rumbles in his throat, sounding almost like a growl. He raises his head to look into her eyes. “I’ve missed you,” he says.

 

She smiles broadly, and giggles as much at her own ridiculous fears as at his unexpected behavior. “I’ve missed you, too.”

 

He cups her face in his hand, and pulls her in for another kiss. This time it is tender, and passionate, and she can feel her heart swelling. When their lips finally part, she whispers, “I was about to get in the bath. Would you like to join me?”

 

His answering smile is full of warmth and desire. “That sounds absolutely perfect.”

 

She takes him by the hand, and leads him back to the bath, with a large grin on her face. All of her exhaustion and frustration has completely vanished—replaced by something much nicer.

 

 

****

 

September

 

Snape is asking her about what sort of emergency healing training the Aurors are getting these days. She’s learned that this sort of thing is his idea of casual chit-chat. Somehow, a fifteen minute chat with Snape has become the routine following every Order meeting. At first, she was annoyed that he had chosen to single her out for his attention, but after hearing a few harrowing reports of his meetings with Voldemort and the Death Eaters she decided not to let herself be bothered. If chatting with her helps him unwind after all he has to face each week, then she’s more than willing to indulge him.

 

After she finishes filling him in on the latest in Auror emergency healing, he gives her a strange look. “Hmmmm…” he says.

 

She raises her eyebrows. “Hmm what?”

 

“Surely you don’t wear these outlandish hair colors to work, do you?”

 

She takes a deep breath. She knows he doesn’t mean to be rude—at least she thinks he doesn’t mean to be rude—but somehow he always manages. “I sometimes wear colors like this,” today she has lavender hair, “to the office. But I assure you that when I’m out in the field I’m perfectly capable of looking extremely non-descript.”

 

He looks her up and down, as if analyzing every inch of her wardrobe and appearance. “Hmmm.”

 

She rolls her eyes. “I did get top marks in Concealment and Disguise during Auror training, you know.”

 

“I don’t doubt it. I was merely thinking that I don’t believe I would like you non-descript. I much prefer you this way.”

 

Tonks is so taken aback that all she can do is sit, blinking dumbly. He rises, and with his usual sharp nod, bids her goodnight.

 

Later, she and Remus curl up together on a sofa in the drawing room, listening to the WWN. It’s a huge relief to be able to relax with him now that the children are back in school. And now Remus no longer has to invent fictional Order business in order to spend time with her.

 

She snuggles back into him as he wraps his arms around her. “Molly said something surprising to me today,” he says.

 

“Oh? What’s that?”

 

“She said that the two of us are welcome to come over for dinner whenever we like, and added that she’s so happy that I’ve found such a lovely young woman to look after me. However did she get that idea?”

 

Tonks shakes her head. “You can’t really expect me to still keep us a secret now that the kids have left, can you?”

 

He takes a deep breath, as if pondering the answer. “No, I don’t suppose I can. I just didn’t think you’d start gossiping about us to Molly.”

 

“Don’t be a condescending prat, Remus. You know I hate it when you do this.”

 

“Sorry,” he mutters.

 

“Good,” she replies. “I wasn’t gossiping about us. Molly and I were both early for the meeting, and she cornered me. She doesn’t like that French girl Bill has been spending so much time with lately, and she was trying to set me up with him. So instead of coming up with some elaborate lie, I decided to tell her the truth—that I’m already seeing someone. And when she asked me if she knew the bloke, I decided to tell her the truth about that as well. A1right?”

 

“Alright. I’m sorry. I just like to keep my private life…private.”

 

“I think I managed to pick up on that fact a while ago, now.” She takes his hand in hers and starts to absently trace the length of his fingers with her own. “I respect your desire for privacy. But I think you should know that I like being able to talk about my relationships with my friends. And I’ve been lying to them—and to my parents—for nearly five months now. I’m fed up with it. I don’t want to hide this anymore.”

 

Remus nods, but says nothing. She looks up at him, steeling herself for an answer to a question that has been nagging at her for ages. “You’re not…embarrassed of me…are you?”

 

He stiffens. “Embarrassed of you? Who in the world would be embarrassed of a strong, beautiful, intelligent, wonderful woman like you? It’s ridiculous. I can’t believe the thought even crossed your mind.”

 

“Then how come you don’t want to tell people about us? Why do you still want to avoid being seen together in public?”

 

He looks down at their intertwined hands. “I thought you understood…I’m sorry. This has really been upsetting you, hasn’t it?”

 

“Yes,” she says plainly. “It has.”

 

He brings her hand to his mouth and kisses it. “I’m so sorry. I honestly thought you understood.”

 

“Understood what?”

 

He takes a deep breath. “You know that anti-werewolf sentiment has been on the rise the past few months, ever since that attack in July. With my name in the paper so much over the past few years, I’ve gained a rather unpleasant sort of notoriety in the community. I didn’t want to go public with our relationship because I was afraid that it might cause problems for you. I didn’t want your friends or your colleagues, or especially your parents, to think less of you for choosing to be with…someone like me.”

 

She catches her breath. How could he possibly think that people’s opinions of their relationship would matter to her? “No, Remus. I didn’t understand. And apparently neither did you.”

 

“What didn’t I understand?”

 

“That I don’t want you to protect me like that, and it’s arrogant of you to think that you need to. I don’t care if people disapprove of us, and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of our relationship. Other people’s opinions are not going to make me change my mind about us.”

 

“I’m sorry.” He looks down at their hands again. An up-tempo melody begins to play on the WWN. “I didn’t want to cause a strain in your relationship with your parents. And I especially didn’t want to cause problems for you at work.”

 

She tightens her lips and takes a deep breath through her nose. “My parents were dead set against my being an Auror, but that didn’t stop me—nor did it ruin my relationship with them. Telling them about you will seem easy in comparison with that battle.”

 

He nodded slowly in agreement. “And at work…?”

 

“The investigation against you has been officially closed, so having a relationship with you no longer violates any of our rules or regulations.”

 

“But your colleagues might form a rather low opinion of you for it.”

 

She is tired of his self-denigration. She grits her teeth. “I don’t care what they think about us. If they want to be bigots, that’s their prerogative. The only person whose opinion really matters to me is yours. And I’m sick of you acting like one of these mornings I’m going to wake up and realize I’ve made a colossal mistake and chuck you like yesterday’s paper. It’s absurd! After all we’ve been through together you should have more faith in me than that. There are times when you treat me like I’m still a child, you know. You can be a right git about it.” She scowls at him.

 

He smiles bemusedly—not at all the reaction she was expecting—and her anger starts to rise.

 

“You’re absolutely right,” he says. “I am a git. A horrible, condescending git. Merlin knows why you put up with me. It must be for the sex.”

 

Her anger dissolves in an instant and she bursts out laughing. He laughs along with her, and pulls her in for a tight hug. Once they quiet down, he kisses the top of her head and softly says, “You never cease to amaze me. Most of my girlfriends in the past never knew about my condition. And the few I dared to tell all dumped me straight away as soon as I told them. I thought that was how it was meant to be. That was just the way life worked for me, and I’d grown used to it.”

 

He takes a deep breath. “And then you came along and turned my whole world upside down and topsy-turvy. I still haven’t really got my feet back underneath me yet. I’m sorry for being so suspicious and overprotective. You’re simply the most amazing thing to happen to me in a very long time, and I think…” he pauses, looking deep into her eyes. “I don't know quite how to handle myself with you sometimes, and I've been selfish and paranoid. I’ll endeavor to get over it. Alright?”

 

Her heart is pounding and nervous prickles run down her spine. This is the closest to a declaration of love that she’s had from him in the five months they’ve been together, and it thrills her to no end. “Alright,” she says softly. “But you need to understand one thing: you are the most amazing thing to happen to me in a very long time, and I have no plans of getting rid of you.”

 

His smile is full of wonder. He shakes his head. “What did I ever do to deserve you?”

 

“You probably don’t. You just got lucky.”

 

They laugh again, and when he pulls her in for a tender kiss she knows without a doubt that she is the lucky one.

 

 

****

 

October

 

There has been a subtle but tangible shift in their relationship.

 

He has started to sit next to her at Order meetings, instead of across the room. They've been to Diagon Alley together three times, and to Molly's house once for dinner.

 

And tonight after the meeting, instead of going off to chat with Kingsley or Dung or Bill while she has her usual conversation with Snape, he stays by her side and wraps an arm around her waist.

 

He leans his chin on her shoulder, and whispers into her ear. "You look amazing tonight. I love it when you wear your hair pink."

 

A little thrill runs through her body, and she grins. He's never been affectionate like this in public before. Something really is changing if he feels comfortable enough to act like this in front of the whole Order.

 

Her smile falters a little when she glimpses Snape across the room. He is glaring at them with a look of pure venom that she hasn't seen him use since the time Conner Wallace exploded a cauldron in his face. As soon as her eyes lock with his, he swirls on his heels and storms out of the kitchen.

 

She is dumbstruck. She can't fathom why he would be so angry with her.

 

"Is something wrong?" Remus asks.

 

She looks at him and smiles. "No. No, it's nothing."

 

Soon they are caught up in a rousing conversation with Bill that leads to a night of cards and Firewhiskey, but she can't completely banish Snape's expression from her mind.

 

Two days later, it is the full moon. As always, she spends the night alone, curled up around her pillow, trying not to think about what Remus is going through and failing utterly.

 

She sees him again two nights later at the next Order meeting. She shows up early to spend extra time with him and as always he acts as if nothing has happened and they haven't been apart.

 

They hold hands under the table at the meeting, and Tonks can't stop smiling. Until she catches sight of Snape. He doesn't look as angry as he did five nights ago, but he still has an ugly sneer on his face. She wonders what she has done to ruin their burgeoning friendship?

 

After the meeting breaks up, Snape once again storms out of the room without a word to anyone. Tonks wishes that he would just tell her why he's upset with her instead of ignoring her like this. But then, she can't expect a man like Snape to behave like a normal person would.

 

Twenty minutes later, most of the other Order members are still socializing, and Tonks finds herself in a disagreement with Hestia over the proper incantation for a charm to firm up mattresses, of all things. Tonks remembers her mother using one incantation, and Hestia remembers another. Finally Tonks declares that she is heading up to the library—she's certain that the Black matriarchs over the years would have acquired a few household charms books that they can consult. She says that she will be back in a few minutes and leaves Hestia to join another conversation.

 

She reaches the library and walks right to the shelves where she remembers seeing the sorts of books she is looking for. As she scans the shelf, she hears a noise behind her.

 

She turns to see Snape rising from a chair by the empty hearth.

 

"Wotcher, Severus!" She smiles. "I thought you'd left."

 

He frowns. "You were mistaken. I was merely trying to find a few minutes of peace to myself, when you disturbed me with those clunking boots of yours."

 

Now she frowns. "You don't have to be rude about it." She studies him carefully. He looks tense—his jaw is clenched. "Is something wrong? You've seemed out of sorts lately."

 

He raises an eyebrow at her. "You really have no idea, have you?"

 

"No idea about what?"

 

He shakes his head, and his lips curl into a mocking smile. Instead of answering her question, he says, "I didn't realize you were so…intimate…with the werewolf."

 

She rolls her eyes. "His name is Remus."

 

"I am aware of the creature's name. What I am not aware of is why a respectable Auror would degrade herself by associating with one of his kind."

 

Tonks is completely taken aback by the loathing in his voice. She's never encountered this kind of prejudice before, and she has no idea how to respond to it. "What the hell is your problem?" she blurts out.

 

His sneer intensifies. "My only problem is you interrupting my meditation with your prying prattle. I think it's time I spare myself the torture, and leave."

 

Stunned into silence by his total rejection of the rapport they've been building for months, she watches as he walks out of the room. She manages to pull herself together, and locates a household spell book.

 

Her mind is still in a muddle as she flips through the book. With a sudden jolt of insight, she realizes that Snape is acting almost jealously. She shakes her head. That can't be it—can it? She never would have thought of herself as Snape's type—and he certainly isn't hers. The whole idea is preposterous, and she can hardly believe she's giving it a second thought. He used to be her teacher, for Merlin's sake. Not to mention how completely unattractive he is. Not that he would be the first unattractive man to fancy her…

 

She shakes her head and decides that it's not worth thinking about. She finally finds the incantation she was looking for, and is gratified that although she was wrong about it, so was Hestia. She is still slightly troubled as she takes the book back down to the kitchen. She doesn’t want to cause a rift in the unity of the Order—especially not over something as trite as this. But if Snape really is jealous, then there is nothing that she can do about it. He will just have to get over it on his own.

 

It doesn't take long for Tonks to forget about Snape's petty behavior toward her. She soon has far more important concerns.

 

After work one evening she arrives at Headquarters to find Remus pacing the kitchen.

 

As soon as he sees her, he says, "Thank Merlin you're here. I'm getting a little nutty in this place—I need to get out. Let's go somewhere."

 

He takes her by the arm and leads her back up the stairs. The next thing she knows he's whisking her away to park for a long walk, then to a café for dinner, then to a pub to listen to a live band. Finally they go back to her flat.

 

As they make love, she senses a new tension in him. A sort of desperate eagerness—he seems to be trying far too hard to please her. Later he falls asleep still clinging tightly to her, though he usually prefers to stretch his long limbs out over more than half the bed.

 

When his tension and forced good cheer are still obvious in the morning, she finally asks him what's wrong.

 

He looks away from her, and is silent for a long minute before he answers. "I got a letter from Creature Aficionados Monthly yesterday."

 

He doesn’t need to say what the letter was about. She already knows.

 

When they first met, he was doing freelance work for more than half-a-dozen periodicals. But ever since his arrest last April they have gradually been dropping him, one by one. Creature Aficionados was the last.

 

He looks back at her with a mocking smile on his face. "I am now officially and completely unemployed."

 

She takes his hand. Not knowing what to say, she resorts to platitudes. "It'll be all right. You'll find something new, I'm sure of it."

 

He takes a deep breath. "I intend to. But with politics being what they are, I highly doubt that I'll be able to find employment of any kind within the Wizarding community. I'll have to resort to finding a Muggle job. I've done it before, and I can do it again. It will just take a little ingenuity to find something that won't interfere with my Order duties."

 

"Your Order duties are nearly a full-time job as it is, and if you count babysitting Sirius then it's more than a full-time job. Maybe you should just take a break from working for a while."

 

"No!" he says quickly. "No. I can't do that. I won't depend on charity to get me by. I'll earn my own way, like I always have. Besides, I won't have to find full-time work to meet my needs. Part time would be enough, what with the favorable exchange rate from Pound to Galleon lately. I'll make it work, somehow."

 

Again, his optimism seems forced. But Tonks merely nods. "Of course you'll make it work. It's what you do."

 

This makes him happy—at least for a little while. But by the end of breakfast his mood is already slipping back into dispiritedness.

 

Tonks doesn't know what she can say to make him feel better, so instead of saying anything she pulls him in for a passionate, lingering kiss. When they finally pull apart, she looks into his eyes and says, "I believe in you."

 

He shakes his head slowly, a small smile dancing across his face. "You really are amazing, you know."

 

She smiles back. "The feeling is mutual."

 

She hopes that he will feel better soon, but she is beginning to understand that even when things aren't going well for him, he won't show it for long. So she tries hard over the next few days to go out of her way to make him feel special, and important.

 

At the end of the week he cheerily announces that he's found a job cleaning Muggle offices on the weekends, so he'll only have to work two days a week. She tries to act delighted, and joins Remus and Sirius in a toast to his new success, but inside she feels like crying.

 

What kind of world does she live in where an intelligent, talented, wonderful man like Remus is reduced to emptying rubbish bins and vacuuming carpets? Will he always be forced into these sorts of menial jobs simply because some closed-minded bigots in the government see only the malady—not the man?

 

Yet he doesn’t complain—not for an instant. So neither does she.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A/N: Thanks so much for reading! I love to hear back from my readers, so please take a moment to review.

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