The Sugar Quill
Author: jncarlin  Story: Drifting  Chapter: Chapter 2: Getting Serious
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Chapter 2: Getting Serious

Author’s Note: As always, thanks go to my beta-reader, Logical Quirk. And thank you to everyone who reviewed chapter 1.

 

 

Chapter 2: Getting Serious

 

November

 

She doesn’t get off her shift until nearly one in the morning, and is looking forward to a long lie-in. On her way up to the room that she shares with Remus, Sirius steps out of the drawing room. “We need to talk,” he insists. She only wants to sleep, but he seems quite adamant, so she finally relents and follows him back to the drawing room.

 

Once they are both seated, he gives her an intense look, and says, “I need to ask what your intentions are toward my friend.”

 

She raises her eyebrows in surprise. “My what?”

 

“Your intentions. Are you serious about him? Is this a long-term thing for you? Or are you still pretty casual about things?”

 

Tonks has always been befuddled by Sirius. His dark moodiness confuses her, and his occasional bursts of temper verge on frightening. But this is different, and she doesn’t know what to make of it. Her first impulse is to be offended, but she reminds herself that most of his social graces were eradicated by his time in prison.

 

She finds that it is usually best to be polite, but direct. “Sirius—you know I’ve been with him for more than six months, and you know that I risked my job to be with him in the first place and yet you still don’t know if I’m serious about him?”

 

"So you are?"

 

She's too tired to deal with this right now. "Of course I am! I thought that was obvious to everyone by now."

 

“Everyone but him."

 

This takes her aback. "What? How can he…? I don't understand."

 

Sirius stares at her, nervously plucking at a loose thread on his robe. "He doesn’t seem to think that he deserves you, you see. And he thinks that maybe you're going to start realizing that sometime soon."

 

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. She knows by now that Remus's confident exterior masks the insecurities that he feels inside, but she never thought that those insecurities went this deep. "Where is this coming from, Sirius?"

 

"Well, last night while you were gone for your shift I got him drunk and we had a little heart to heart."

 

Tonks isn’t sure she wants to know where this is going.

 

Sirius continues to tug at the thread until a second thread comes loose. “See, what you need to understand is, my friend has a thing for women.”

 

She raises her eyebrows. “Is that a bad thing?”

 

“Let me finish. He always loved women. Always. And it wasn't a pervy thing. Really. As far as I know, he's never been what I would call promiscuous. He's a one-woman man. But he also likes women friends. He really likes spending time with women. Talking to them, hanging around with them, and all that. We used to tease him because he seemed to have just as much fun gossiping with the girls as he did pulling pranks with us. But we stopped teasing when he was the first one of us to kiss a girl, and the first one to get a girlfriend. And eventually he was the first to lose his virginity. He just always loved women."

 

She is really too tired for Sirius's drunken ramblings. "Does this story of yours have a point?"

 

"Yes!" He looks indignant. "I'm getting there. Just…just listen."

 

She sighs. "I'm listening."

 

"Okay. Here's where I'm going. When he was younger, he always figured that eventually he'd find the right woman, and settle down. Start a family, and all that. But he gave up on that a long time ago. Ever since Marla."

 

"Marla?"

 

Sirius nods. "Marla. He started seeing her in our seventh year—not long after James started seeing Lily. And he really thought she was the one. When James and Lily got engaged, he figured that he would be next. But the stupid git had a problem. He'd never told her about being a werewolf. And somehow he always managed to hide it from her. For more than a year he hid it from her. Finally, the week of James's wedding, he bought a ring and told me that he was proposing. But that backed him into a corner. If they were going to get married, then he had to tell the truth. There couldn’t be any more lying after that."

 

Tonks knows where this is going, but she still doesn't see what it had to do with how Remus felt about her. "So he told her, and she dumped him?"

 

"Yeah." Sirius says glumly. "And he was stupid enough to tell her the night before James's wedding. He was so messed up that he barely made it to the wedding on time, and as soon as the ceremony was over he vanished. I finally found him a few hours later behind some shrubs in the Potter's garden, passed out with a few empty bottles of Firewhiskey. I thought for a minute that he'd drunk himself to death, but fortunately he hadn't stayed conscious long enough." He shakes his head. "He moped and moaned about her for ages. More than five months later I found out that he was still carrying that damned engagement ring around in his pocket. So I marched him straight to a pawn shop to sell the thing, and then took him to a pub and helped him find a girl to get laid with."

 

Tonks sighs. "Again, I have to ask: why are you telling me all this? Are you saying he never got over her?"

 

"Oh, he got over her just fine. Never would have worked out anyway—they were all wrong for each other."

 

"Then what…"

 

He cuts her off. "Just let me finish!"

 

She clamps her mouth shut and glares at him.

 

"As I was saying," Sirius continues, "He got over Marla just fine. But he never really got over the idea that the werewolf thing would always get in the way of the kind of life that he wanted. He decided that he'd never be able to have a wife and family like the rest of us, so he completely gave up on it. But he loved women way too much to give up on them. Instead, he just shifted his mindset. He stopped letting himself get too close. He wouldn't let himself get serious about them. From what he told me, he's had dozens of girlfriends since Marla, but he never let them last. He always figured that no one would ever stick with him if they knew what he was, so he kept things casual. He never let himself get too attached to them, and he never let the girls get too attached to him.  That way, when it ended, they could part ways with no hard feelings. And that's how he's been operating for years now.”

 

She thinks that she's finally starting to understand, and she doesn't like it one bit. She bites her bottom lip nervously. “So are you trying to say that he’s…he’s not very serious about me?” She holds her breath, waiting for the answer.

 

“No! He's very serious about you." She exhales, and relief washes over her.

 

Sirius continues. "You’ve kind of thrown him for a loop. He was attracted to you from the very first day he met you, but from what he told me he never expected that you'd ever have an actual relationship with him. He figured you were just pumping him for information, and eventually you’d give up and move on. So he decided he’d just enjoy the company of lovely young woman while he still could, and when the Ministry finally gave up on him you’d stop seeing him. But then, all of a sudden, things changed. Before he knew it he was in a full-blown relationship with you, and his feelings had gotten way more serious than he'd ever intended. And now, apparently, you’ve officially surpassed the length of his longest post-Marla relationship by nearly two months.”

 

“Why are you telling me all this?”

 

“Because, right now, Remus is in a muddle. He keeps waiting for the other shoe to fall. I think that everyday that he wakes up and you’re still there, he’s surprised. He’s convinced himself that eventually you’ll give up on him, just like every other woman he’s ever been with has.”

 

“That’s horrible!”

 

Sirius shrugs. “That’s Remus. The hard part for him is that he knows that if you do leave him, this time his heart really will get broken. And he’s scared to death. Just talking about you chucking him nearly had him vomiting—and he usually holds his liquor better than I do! That’s why I need to know what your intentions toward him are. If you’re really just being casual with him, you need to tell him now. The longer this goes on, the harder it will be for him.”

 

“And if I'm really serious about him, should I tell him that as well?"

 

“I’m not sure. That might scare him away. He’s kind of jumpy right now."

 

She lets out a huff. "So if I don't tell him how I feel, he'll be sick with worry, and if I do tell him how I feel he'll be scared off? Then what the bloody hell am I supposed to do?"

 

Sirius shrugs. "I don't know. I'm no relationship expert. I haven't been with a woman in fifteen years."

 

She shakes her head. "You can be very infuriating sometimes, you know."

 

"Sorry." He looks like he genuinely means it. "Maybe…maybe you can find a way to show him how you feel, without telling him?"

 

"How am I supposed to do that?"

 

"Don't know." He shrugs again. "But he needs…something. Some kind of reassurance. You’re his girlfriend—you figure it out.”

 

She falls silent, pondering what Sirius has told her.

 

He finally yanks the loose thread from his robe with a quick snap. “That’s all I wanted to say.” He stands up. “Goodnight.”

 

“Goodnight,” she replies, her sleep-addled brain swirling in confusion. After a few minutes, she realizes that her mind isn’t working well enough to process the new information tonight. She decides to go to bed, and think about it tomorrow.

 

 

****

 

 

December

 

The first week of the month, they spend an afternoon at Diagon Alley, finishing their Christmas shopping. Remus impresses her with his ability to pick out gifts that are very affordable, but also thoughtful and perfectly suited for the recipient.

 

Last week she tried to suggest that they keep their gifts for each other simple and inexpensive, but before she could finish her sentence he had interrupted her with the stubborn and determined statement that he was perfectly capable of managing his budget well enough to buy her a nice Christmas gift, and a declaration that he didn’t want to hear anymore of her “simple gift” nonsense.

 

The conversation did little more than leave her with a lingering feeling of guilt that he will be spending far too much of his meager income on her, and a complete inability to think of a gift to buy for him.

 

After their afternoon of shopping, they stop in at the Leaky Cauldron for a simple dinner. As they are finishing their meal, she takes a deep breath, and prepares to put her plan into action.

 

A few days after her strange late-night conversation with Sirius, inspiration struck for a way to show Remus just how much he means to her. And now, all the pieces of her plan are in place.

 

“My parents have been hassling me to introduce you to them,” she says, as casually as possible. “They were wondering if I could bring you over for dinner sometime next week?

 

He freezes, his beer halfway to his mouth. “I…didn’t realize you’d told your parents about us.”

 

She smiles. “Of course I have. Nearly a month ago. And they know we’ve been together for more than six months now, so naturally they want to meet you. They need to decide if you’re worthy of me.” She keeps her tone light, and takes a sip of her own beer to try to hide her own nervousness.

 

He sets his beer down. “Yes. Yes, of course you’ve told them. I would be delighted to go to your parents’ house for dinner. I think Wednesday or Thursday would work best for me.”

 

He only looks slightly unsettled, and he seems willing enough. So far so good. “Brilliant. I think Thursday is best for me. I’ll let them know, shall I?”

 

He nods. “Yes. Certainly. I’ll plan for Thursday then.”

 

“Good. I’ll make them promise not to hex you.”

 

He raises an eyebrow. “Are they prone to that sort of behavior when you bring your boyfriends over?”

 

His humor is returning. That’s a good sign. “Dunno. You’re the first boyfriend I’ve brought over since I was eighteen, and I’d like to think that my taste has improved significantly since then.”

 

“Oh…but you didn’t deny the casting of hexes. It makes me wonder what sort of bloke you saw fit to bring home back then.”

 

She grins. “He was a musician. With a mohawk. He was starting a band—wanted to be the next Weird Sisters. Too bad he had no talent. He was still just a barman in a pub in Manchester last I heard.” She pauses for dramatic effect. “And yes—there was a hex cast. But just a little one.”

 

He chuckles. “Who did the casting?”

 

“After you meet my parents, you might be able to guess.”

 

His familiar mischievous grin is back. “Sounds like a fun game.”

 

“I certainly hope so.”

 

Before long the subject changes, and they don’t discuss the new plan again for the rest of the night.

 

The next day, after Tonks finishes the drink and snack Remus has waiting for her when she gets home from her late shift, he brings it up again.

 

“Just out of curiosity, have you told your parents about my condition?” His tone is casual, but she can see the tension in his shoulders and his jaw. She was expecting this, and is ready with her carefully planned answer.

 

“No. I didn’t have to. They remembered your name from the Prophet. They both read that rag obsessively every morning after breakfast.”

 

She watches him carefully to gauge his reaction, and notices his jaw become even more visibly tense. “Oh,” he says.  After a pause, he continues. “And…how did they take that news that you’re involved with an infamous werewolf?”

 

Tonks rolls her eyes, and shakes her head. “I don’t think you qualify as infamous quite yet.”

 

His lips curve in a smile, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “Notorious, then. And don’t evade the question. How did they react.

 

She takes a deep breath, and answers. “My dad turned red and started spluttering, and my mum launched into an ongoing campaign to logically dissuade me from my ill-advised choice in romantic partners—her words, not mine.”

 

He blinks his eyes rapidly in surprise, and takes a deep breath. “Perhaps this dinner isn’t such a good idea after all.”

 

“Nonsense. They’re much calmer about it now that they’ve had a month to get used to the idea. And in the end it doesn’t really matter what they think, does it? My opinion is the only one that really counts.” She smiles at him and snuggles into his side as they sit on the sofa.

 

He nods, but doesn’t seem entirely convinced.

 

“Really, Remus. It will be fine. They might not love you at first sight, but you’ll grow on them. That’s what you do.”

 

He squeezes her with the arm draped over her shoulders, and smiles back at her. “So that’s what happened with you, is it?”

 

“Yes. After hanging around with you for seven months you managed to worm your way into my brain and make me crazy enough to fancy you.”

 

His smile broadens. “And luckily for me, even after all these months you still haven’t gotten sick of me.”

 

“I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of you,” she says quite honestly, and proceeds to do all sorts of things to show him just how not sick of him she really is.

 

The dinner with her parents goes even better than she expects. Her parents are both a little stiff, but before long Remus’s natural charm helps them both to relax, at least a little. Her father comes up with a new suspicious or ominously probing question to ask every ten minutes, but Tonks manages to deflect most of them, and by the end of the evening Remus is even able to elicit some smiles from her mother—no small feat.

 

As they stroll away from her parent’s house after bidding their farewells, Tonks looks up at Remus with a grin on her face. “So—what do you think?”

 

He is silent for a moment, and then takes a deep breath before speaking. “I think…that your mother would like me if I wasn’t involved with her daughter. But your father hates me.”

 

Tonks laughs. His assessment matches hers perfectly. “Don’t worry about it. My father would hate anyone I brought home—no one is good enough for his little Dora.”

 

“Perhaps, but I think he has a special level of venom in his heart for the werewolf.”

 

She shrugs. “He’ll get over it. Eventually. Even if it takes years.” Her tone is nonchalant, but she feels anything but relaxed inside. What they say over the next few minutes will be crucial in directing their future together. She bites her bottom lip, waiting for his response.

 

“Years?” He asks in a neutral tone.

 

“Yes. My father is a very stubborn man,” she says, knowing full well that wasn’t what he was asking.

 

Remus isn’t ready to let it drop quite yet. “So you’re sure that you want to be with a man that your parents might learn to tolerate after several years instead of finding one that they’d like right from the start?”

 

She huffs and nudges him in the ribs with her elbow. “Don’t be ridiculous, Remus. I don’t really care what my parents think of you. You’re the one that I want, and you’re the one that I’ll have. Besides—they can’t complain too much or they’ll be hypocrites, and they hate hypocrites. They’ve simply got to accept that I’m following in my mother’s footsteps. My mum decided to spend her life with someone that her parents hated, so it really shouldn’t surprise them that I’ve done the same.”

 

She takes a deep breath, and stares resolutely forward as they keep walking. She finally said it; she’s said the words that she has been so carefully planning for weeks. It’s been a plot worthy of a Slytherin. Now she has only to wait and see what comes of it.

 

Remus is silent for a moment, and she hears nothing but the sound of their footfalls on the pavement and the beating of her own heart.

 

Suddenly, he stops, pulling her to a halt with him, and looking her in the face.

“You really mean that, don’t you?” he says. She’s never seen him look so vulnerable.

 

“Yes,” she says softly. “Every word of it.”

 

They stand in silence, staring at each other. It feels like minutes have gone by, and his gaze is burning into her. He looks so hopeful, and yet anxious, all at the same time.

 

“I love you.”

 

Her breath catches in her throat. She can hardly believe what she’s heard. She hoped her plan would get her something—but this?

 

The longer her silence stretches, the more worried he looks. She grins, and she reaches up to lay her palms on his cheeks. “I love you, too.”

 

He lets out a breath that he must have been holding, and laughs. “Good. For a moment there I thought I’d made a complete fool of myself.”

 

She laughs back. “Not this time. I love you, Remus Lupin. I love you.” Now that the words have left her mouth, she doesn’t want to stop saying them until the whole world knows.

 

But he stops her mouth by pulling her in for a deep, lingering kiss. When the kiss ends he continues to hold her tight, and whispers into her ear, “I love you.”

 

Tonks can’t help but feel that after tonight, nothing could ever make her unhappy again.

 

Despite her joy at entering into a new stage in her relationship, the horror of the attack on Arthur a few weeks later hits her hard. Even after Podmore’s arrest, the true danger of what she is involved in hadn’t sunk in. But seeing what that serpent did to Arthur makes her see just how tenuous life can really be.

 

The turmoil following the attack prevents her from seeing much of Remus over the holidays, but they do share one more dinner with her parents. They are slightly more cordial, and she can tell that it gives Remus a lot of hope to see that they really are willing to give him a chance.

 

On Christmas day she and Remus don’t see each other until late in the evening. They get together at her flat to exchange their gifts. She is delighted and stunned by the opal pendant he gives her, and even after he admits to enhancing the colors with a charm she feels more than a little guilty that he would spend so much of his limited funds on her. She bites her tongue and tries to act as graciously as possible, all the while wondering what sacrifices he’s had to make to buy it for her.

 

However, she doesn’t feel at all guilty for spending a large sum on a fine new winter cloak, scarf and gloves for him, and he seems very happy to receive them. As they snuggle in front of her fire sipping mulled wine she can’t help but wonder if this will be the first of many Christmases together.

 

Two days later, after an Order meeting, she moves quickly to catch Snape before he leaves. She asks if she can have a private word with him, and he grudgingly agrees.

 

They go up to the drawing room, and she closes the door behind them. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a small jar of grey powder embellished with a bright red ribbon.

 

“Happy Christmas,” she says, holding out the jar to him.

 

Snape stares at the jar, and then back up at her, his eyes darting warily.

 

“I’m sorry it’s late, but I never saw you the week before Christmas, so it had to wait. It’s bicorn horn.”

 

“I can see that,” says Snape, testily. “What I don’t see is why you’re giving it to me.”

 

“Earlier this month I overheard you complaining to Mad-Eye that you were nearly out, and that your usual supplier had raised his price outrageously. But, I happen to have a friend in the ingredients business who I knew could get some for me for a discount, and since I was having a ridiculously hard time choosing a present for you I decided that this would have to do. You’re impossible to shop for, you know.”

 

He hesitantly reaches out to take the jar. He stares at it in his hand for a moment before pocketing it. “Thank you. But why did you want to buy me a present at all?”

 

“Because you’re my friend,” she says. She hopes this gesture will finally erase whatever perceived slight or jealousy it was that turned him against her. She knows that she wouldn’t like it if anyone in the Order seemed left out or isolated, but she thinks that it is particularly bad that it is happening to Snape. His work for the Order is by far the most difficult and dangerous of anyone’s, yet no one but Dumbledore seems at all grateful for the risk he puts himself in. He needs friends right now, and she is not going to give up on him, no matter how grumpy he’s been with her lately.

 

“I am?” he asks.

 

“You are if you want to be.”

 

He continues to eye her warily. “I don’t make a very good friend.”

 

She smiles. “That’s okay. I’m an excellent friend, so I can make up for any of your deficiencies.”

 

He finally smiles, and chuckles—a low, throaty sound. “Very well, then. And the first of my many deficiencies is that I have nothing to give you in return.”

 

“Don’t worry about it.” She walks over to the sideboard and picks up a decanter of wine. “Just have a drink with me. That will be enough.”

 

He raises his eyebrows and walks toward her. “That’s really all you ask?”

 

 “Well—that, and it might be nice if you start talking to me again.”

 

He chuckles again. “Consider it done.”

 

“Good.” She pours two glasses, and hands him one. “Happy Christmas.”

 

“Happy Christmas,” he replies.

 

****

 

 

January

 

She adjusts her outfit for the thirtieth time that evening, and shifts her hair from pink to blonde. She knows that she shouldn’t be this nervous—Remus’s mother can’t possibly be as bad as her own parents—but she can’t help herself. She really doesn’t know much about Remus’s mum. Just that she is a Muggle, she lives in the country, she is some sort of artist, and her son conscientiously visits her twice a month. Now that Tonks is finally on the verge of meeting her, she feels woefully unprepared.

 

Remus walks into the bedroom. “Are you ready to go?”

 

“I think so.” She straightens her blouse one more time.

 

He looks her over. “You look lovely, but what happened to the pink?”

 

She shakes her head. “I know you like it—but I’m worried it’ll leave a bad impression.”

 

He lets out a short laugh. “You should wear the pink. It would be the perfect choice.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Just trust me. Wear the pink.”

 

She nods warily, and morphs her hair back to pink.

 

Cleo Lupin is still lovely, in spite of her white hair and the fine lines around her eyes and mouth. She greets Tonks with a warm hug. The garden of her small cottage is decorated with a large collection of wind chimes of all shapes and sizes, and their music constantly fills the air.

 

As Tonks walks inside, she sees that the walls are covered with art—sketches and paintings make the home one vast collage. “Are these all yours?”

 

Mrs. Lupin nods as she lights a cigarette. “Mostly, yes. The product of a restless mind.”

 

Most of the art features magical creatures in natural settings—unicorns, dragons, bowtruckles, hippogriffs and more. “I have an advantage over my fellow fantasy artists,” she says. “I’m the only one who’s ever actually seen the creatures that I draw. One of the advantages of marrying a wizard.”

 

They have a nice simple dinner, and Mrs. Lupin proves to be good company, if a bit reticent about delving into personal matters—like mother like son. She points out a few portraits of Remus when he was a boy, and inevitably he is drawn with a rabbit.

 

When Tonks asks why, Mrs. Lupin laughs. “He hasn’t told you yet? Remus has had pet bunnies since he was a boy. He adores them. Lately, I’ve been keeping them for him, since they’re not allowed in his flat.”

 

Tonks turns to raise her eyebrows at him.

 

He chuckles. “So now you know my furry little secret.”

 

“You’ll have to introduce these bunnies of yours to me before we leave.”

 

“I’d be delighted to.”

 

After dinner Mrs. Lupin leads them into a sitting room that looks out on the back garden. Tonks catches her breath and smiles in delight when she sees the large watercolor painting that dominates one wall of the small room. It is a delicate fairy maiden dancing on a dew-covered flower. Her hair is vivid pink. Now she knows why Remus insisted on her pink hair.

 

“Do you like her?” asks Mrs. Lupin, puffing on another cigarette.

 

Tonks nods. “Very much.”

 

Mrs. Lupin smiles. “I’m glad. She and I are old friends. She was my first large painting that I was really happy with, and I still smile every time I see her. Remus tells me that real fairies aren’t nearly as intelligent or good-natured as I made her, but I don’t care. Sometimes the fantasy is nicer than the reality.”

 

After another half an hour of chatting, Mrs. Lupin gives Remus a pointed look and tells him that perhaps it’s time for him to go visit his bunnies now.

 

He raises an eyebrow at her. “So does that mean that now is the time where you’re going to start telling her all sorts of embarrassing stories about me and you don’t want me in the room to stop you?”

 

“Something like that,” she says. “Now run along. I’ll send Nymphadora along after you shortly.”

 

Remus smiles indulgently as he stands, and gives his mother a kiss on the head as he leaves.

 

Once he is gone, Tonks looks at Mrs. Lupin expectantly, but the older woman sits in silence for a minute, taking slow drags on her cigarette. Finally, she speaks. “Are you in love with my son?”

 

Based on their conversation over dinner, Tonks never expected this kind of frankness and it catches her by surprise. She takes a deep breath to collect herself, and replies, “Yes. Yes, I am.”

 

Mrs. Lupin smiles. “You have no idea how happy that makes me. He’s in love with you, too. He never told me so, but I can see it in his eyes when he talks about you. It reminds me of the way I used to look back when I first met his father. I haven’t seen him this happy in years. But…I think I need to ask you to be…patient with him.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Mrs. Lupin looks down and taps her cigarette over the ashtray. “He’s been drifting for so many years—since the war ended. Did you know his father died in the war?”

 

Tonks shakes her head. “No.”

 

“He joined Dumbledore’s group when Remus was in his fifth year at school. He said that my being a Muggle made us targets, and he wanted to do something to protect us. Instead, he just got himself killed. It was two months before Remus finished his last year at school. He came home for a week to be with me for the funeral. I was a wreck. It was like I was living through a nightmare. And Remus was all I had left. But he was too much like his father—too impetuous, and daring. After the funeral he went straight to Dumbledore and demanded to be allowed to take his father’s place. He never even stopped to think about me, and what it might do to me if I lost them both.” She stops to take another drag, and she is looking out the window at Remus. She seems miles away.

 

“I told Dumbledore not to let him join. I begged him. But he didn’t listen to me. He needed every soldier he could get. So Remus went to war. And one by one he dragged his friends in after him. It destroyed them all. And it very nearly destroyed him in the process. He’s been drifting ever since. From job to job, flat to flat, girlfriend to girlfriend. He never let himself settle down long enough to get close to anyone new after the war—not friends, not employers, not girlfriends. He’s just gone wherever the tide takes him. Until now.” She turns to look Tonks straight in the eyes.

 

“Over the past few months, I can tell that he’s finally found an anchor to hold him steady. But he hasn’t completely rid himself of the impulse to keep on drifting. It’s still in him; I can still see it. If you aren’t steady, and patient, one of these days the tides of life will tug a little too hard, and he’ll let go of you and drift off in some new direction. It would break his heart—but he wouldn’t stop it. He doesn’t know how. Not yet. It’s going to take time for him to change enough to stick with you when times are tough. Do you think that you can be patient enough to wait it out? Do you love him enough to carry him through the hard times?”

 

Mrs. Lupin seems almost to be pleading with her. Tonks wonders if Remus realizes just how lonely and sad his mother really is. Somehow, she thinks that he doesn’t. Tonks doesn’t like to think of Remus in this way, but she can’t deny the truth behind what his mother has said. She’s seen it in him herself—she simply never expected to be confronted with it so directly. But in spite of Remus’s flaws, Tonks knows that there is only one answer to his mother’s questions. “Yes. I do. I will stand by him no matter what.”

 

Mrs. Lupin smiles again, and tears glisten in her eyes. She fumbles to light another cigarette. After taking a long drag, she sighs and looks at Tonks again. “I’m so glad we had this chance to talk. You’ll come visit again soon, won’t you?”

 

Tonks nods, smiling back at the lonely woman in front of her. “Of course I will.”

 

“Good. Good. Now you should run along and go meet those bunnies.”

 

Tonks finds Remus sitting on the floor of the garden shed under a dim electric light, with three bunnies hopping around him. He smiles up her. “She didn’t tell you anything too mortifying, did she?”

 

Tonks shakes her head, wondering what Remus would think of the conversation she’d just had. “Not at all.” She sits down beside him, and reaches out to pet the nearest bunny. “So what’s this one’s name?”

 

“This one is Molly.”

 

Tonks sniggers. Remus huffs and wags his finger at her. “Now, you won’t go telling Molly Weasley—will you? Because I named this rabbit long before I became friends with the Weasley family.”

 

Tonks shakes her head. “I won’t tell. What are the other two named?”

 

“That one is Brian, and that little scamp is Mr. Fluffy.”

 

Tonks raises an eyebrow. “Mr. Fluffy? That’s a rather sissy name, isn’t it?”

 

“Not at all. Fluffy is a sissy name, but Mr. Fluffy has panache.”

 

Tonks laughs. “So he’s a bunny with panache?”

 

“Absolutely. Just look at him!”

 

On cue, Mr. Fluffy hops up to them to sniff at Remus’s fingers. Tonks leans against his shoulder, and reaches out to pet the bunny on the head.

 

“Why don’t you bring one or two of them to stay at Grimmauld Place? It would certainly cheer the place up.”

 

“I can’t. Sirius is allergic.”

 

“No!”

 

“Yes. We discovered that in a most unfortunate fashion when he came to visit one summer.”

 

“Well…aren’t there potions for that sort of thing?”

 

“Yes, but Sirius insists that he’s not taking a foul-tasting potion every day just so I can bring a smelly rodent into the house. Besides, I’m afraid he’d get drunk and accidentally feed it to Buckbeak.”

 

“Oh, dear. That is a real danger, isn’t it?”

 

“Indeed it is.”

 

Tonks pauses to think for a moment before speaking again. “We could keep one in my flat, if you like.”

 

“Really?”

 

She nods. “Yes. I haven’t had a pet since my cat died when I was sixteen. It would be nice to have one again. It would be nice to have one together.”

 

He looks down into her eyes with a mysterious smile on his face. He reaches his arm around her back and twines his fingers through hers to grasp her hand tightly. “It would be nice, wouldn’t it?”

 

Soon after, they say goodnight to Mrs. Lupin and return to Tonks’s flat.

 

One week later, Mr. Fluffy joins them.

 

They lay in the dark, snuggled in bed, listening to the sounds of Mr. Fluffy scratching around his new cage in Tonks’s living room.

 

“Do you ever think about the future?” Remus asks her suddenly.

 

“Sometimes.”

 

“I never used to think about the future. Never. At least, never more than a month or two ahead. But lately, I have been. I’ve been wondering what things might be like in a few years, once the war is over.”

 

“And what do you think they’ll be like then?”

 

“I’m not completely sure. There are so many possibilities. But among all the possibilities, there is one thing I’m sure about.”

 

“What?”

 

“That I can’t imagine a future without you in it.”

 

She smiles. “I feel the same way about you.”

 

He smiles back at her. “Good. I’m glad the feeling is mutual.”

 

“Very mutual.”

 

They kiss, and as their arms circle around one another a future together seems very possible indeed.

 

 

 

Author’s Note: If anyone is interested in reading more about Cleo Lupin, I recently wrote a short ficlet from her point of view. It is called “Smoke and Wind,” and you can find it on my Author Page.

 

Thanks for reading! I love to hear back from my readers, so please take the time to review. I’ll try to have chapter 3 up soon.

 

 

//
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