A/N: This story was previously posted. However, I temporarily removed it to make some changes. Enjoy!
Lycanthropy, Love and Other Curses:
Remus, so often melancholy and lonely, was first amused, then impressed, then seriously smitten by the young witch. He had never fallen in love before. If it have happened in peacetime, Remus would have simply taken himself off to a new place and a new job, so that he did not have to endure the pain of watching Tonks fall in love with a handsome young wizard in the Auror office, which was what he expected to happen. However, this was war; they were both needed in the Order of the Phoenix, and nobody knew what the next day would bring. Remus felt justified in remaining exactly where he was, keeping his feeling to himself but secretly rejoicing every time somebody paired him with Tonks on some overnight mission.
It had never occurred to Remus that Tonks could return his feelings because he had become so used to considering himself unclean and unworthy.
Chapter 1: A Moonlit Meeting
"Stupid leaves." Tonks kicked some of the fallen leaves gathered around her boots. "This is a very important job, Tonks," she said in a mocking voice. "This is not a punishment, Tonks. You can learn from every assignment, Tonks."
Hogwarts stood majestically in the background, glowing by the light of the almost full moon.
Tonks hugged her cloak tightly around herself. She had a patch over her heart that read: Auror in Training. The 'in Training' was bolded.
It was a particularly chilly September night. It was the blasted dementors making the air abnormally frosty, despite being off the school grounds.
What was she learning from standing out here? Besides how to be properly cold? Surely, Sirius Black would not be stupid enough to break into Hogwarts.
The rest of her cohort got to be out in the field actually looking for Black. But not her. No, she was in exile at Hogwarts.
"It's because I'm a girl," she had complained to Mad-Eye when the assignments had been posted. "You don't think I can handle myself."
Both normal and magical eye had flicked towards her. "Anyone who's seen you fight would know perfectly well that you can handle yourself," he had said gruffly, then started walking away from her. Despite herself, Tonks couldn't help but feel a bit cheered by this. "This has nothing to do with you being a girl."
"What then?" She had asked angrily.
'Stupid Sirius Black and stupid Hogwarts,' she thought. "And stupid cold and stupid tree," she said out loud. Then she kicked the tree, which in retrospection was a stupid thing to do. She fell on her backside on the cold hard ground and her toe throbbed painfully. "Merlin!" she swore.
"Are you alright?" a soft voice said, making Tonks's heart lurch.
She sprung to her feet, her wand in hand, pointing it in the direction of the newcomer.
The man before her had his hands raised in surrender. "I am unarmed," he assured her.
She lowered her wand slightly. "Lumos," she said. The tip of her lit wand illuminated the somewhat shabbiness of the man's brown robes and traveling cloak. He had greying brown hair. He had several scars slashed across his face. He squinted in the brightness from her wand and she could barely make out that his eyes were blue. "Who are you?" she asked with as much authority as she could muster.
"Remus John Lupin," the man answered, his hands still raised in front of him. "I'm a teacher here."
"And what business do you have out here tonight, Remus John Lupin?" Tonks asked, still in that authoritarian voice that did not sound like her own.
The corners of the man's mouth twitched slightly. He thought she was a joke! Just like everyone else, he wasn't going to take her seriously.
The woman's pink, short hair burned in the glow of the wand and the moon. She was not very big, but she wore a fierce look on her face; her large brown eyes were narrowed, and her jaw was set. Remus's eyes flicked to the trainee badge on her chest. It was clear that she would be a force to be reckoned with.
"I was out for a walk," Remus said, "nothing more." Something about the woman's face reminded him of someone. Perhaps the set of her eyes, the way she narrowed them like that made him think of…
"A walk at this hour?" Tonks questioned.
Remus's eyes glanced towards the waxing gibbous moon and then back at the woman's face. "I couldn't sleep," he told her.
The woman still looked suspicious, but she extinguished her wand and let her arm fall.
The man lowered his hands.
"Well you can't be too careful in times like these," Tonks told him.
His mouth twitched again.
Tonks felt a fresh wave of irritation.
"What's your name?" he asked her.
"Tonks," she said huffily.
"Tonks," he repeated.
"Yep," she said gruffly.
Remus could tell he had annoyed her. His face had done it, he knew. He couldn't help it. She was cute and she was trying terribly hard to appear tough. She looked rather young to be an auror, maybe twenty, twenty-one. Usually aurors started older. It was rare to get hired right out of Hogwarts. However, just one look at this woman told Remus that she was anything but the norm.
"Tell me, Tonks," Remus said, amusement dancing behind his eyes. "What was it that the poor tree did to offend you."
From the light of the moon, Remus could see color forming in her cheeks, but not that of embarrassment, but that of the renew frustration at whatever had happened before he stumbled upon her.
"You saw that," she said crankily.
"I did," Remus told her, "but just right before you fell," he added quickly, trying to spare her. In truth, he had seen her talking to herself for a while. He had been trying to move by her unnoticed, but then she had fallen.
Tonks surveyed the man for a moment and then snorted. "I was supposed to be working on stealth tactics," she said.
"Ah," Remus replied, amused. "Well done."
The woman laughed. "Well I wasn't expecting anyone to be around."
Remus gave the woman a bemused look. "If there wasn't a chance of someone being around, then why would an auror be stationed here to protect the surroundings."
She heard the flattery in his voice. He probably felt bad about how he smirked at her before. Tonks got the impression that this man was the type to feel bad about things often. Though she knew what he was doing, she couldn't help but feel slightly touched by him implying that she was there to protect Hogwarts. When in truth, her supervisors were just trying to find a place to put her until this whole Sirius Black thing got resolved.
"I'm not an auror yet," Tonks said, jabbing a finger into her trainee badge.
"Could have fooled me," Remus told her.
"Now you're just laying it on thick," Tonks replied, but she was grinning at him. The smile had a hint of mischief in it. Again, Remus was captured by some sense of familiarity, he had seen a smile like that before just on another face. "You're the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor." It wasn't a question.
"I am," Remus confirmed. "But how do you know that?"
"Because I don't recognize you," she told him. "The position is cursed you know. No one has lasted more than a year."
"I seem to remember a rumor like that circulating when I was a student," Remus told her.
"Awfully brave of you to take the job," Tonks said.
Remus smiled halfheartedly. "There are some curses much more terrible," he told her. "I think I will take my chances with this one."
Tonks cocked her head to one side to look at him, a familiar inquisitive look in her eyes.
It was at that moment that Remus knew who she must be. "Is your first name, Nymphadora?" he asked gently. Remus remembered being told about her long ago when he was at school from... She was a metamorphmagus.
Tonks grimaced. "It might be," she said coldly.
"You're…" Remus redirected himself, "Andromeda's daughter."
Tonks let out a cold laugh. "Yeah, well done, Professor. And as you have acutely noticed, I'm also cousin of Sirius Black and niece of Bellatrix Lestrange and a fool for thinking I could be an auror without people associating me with them."
Remus was horrified. "No, I didn't mean-" he looked around for help, none came. "You have no control over the actions of other people."
"That's what I'm saying," she said. "But people tend to have a nasty habit of blaming and judging other people for things completely out of their control."
Remus's face became stony.
"Take you for instance," Tonks pointed out.
Remus blinked. "What about me?" he asked cautiously.
"You took one look at me and saw someone little, young, and…pink," she said. "And you thought I couldn't be a threat. When in reality, I could probably duel you into submission blindfolded."
"Then you heard my name or whatever you used to figure out my connection with the Black family and you thought-"
"What did I think," Remus asked with raised brows. She was clearly determined to make her feelings known.
"You thought 'who in their right mind would make her an auror?'"
"And why would I think that?" Remus asked.
"Good question," Tonks said enthusiastically. "I have been asking the same one myself."
"And?" Remus was smiling at her, although, he didn't know why.
"Because, with two very prominent psycho killers in my bloodline, as well as a handful of more harmless crazies on my mother side, who's to say that I won't snap as well. That's why I'm here, at Hogwarts, because I was not to be trusted with the Black case. I couldn't go out with the other trainees due to 'personal' connections with the convict."
"Do you even remember him?"
"No!" she exclaimed. "Well not really." She looked around her and then pushed herself up onto a low hanging branch of the tree she had kicked earlier, settling herself for a chat.
Remus leaned against the tree and gazed up at her perched there like a colorful bird.
"I suppose I remember him a bit," she said in a hushed voice. Tonks didn't know why she was confiding this to the professor, a man she had just met. "I mean, I was seven when he went to Azkaban. He wasn't really allowed to see us when he was school-aged, my mum being disowned and all. But when he came of age, he came around our house every now and then. I remember him playing with me. He let me sit on that flying motorbike of his. He offered to take me for a ride on it once, but dad found out and he and mum put a stop to it immediately. Mainly, I remember my mum crying a lot after it happened. I mean, she loved him. I guess you can't just stop loving someone even if they've done something horrible. And he seemed alright, you know, not someone who would have done what he did."
"Yeah," Remus breathed.
"Did you know him from before?" she asked, recognizing something in his face, sadness perhaps.
Remus took in a deep breath. "He and I were in the same year at school."
"Okay," Tonks said, nodding, a knowing glint in her eyes.
Remus held his breath, waiting for her to ask if he had ever been friends with the escaped convict, Sirius Black. If she asked, something told Remus that he wouldn't be able to lie to her. But she didn't ask, seemingly thinking it would be impolite.
"Well," Remus sighed. "You have a very keen instinct Nympha-"
"Tonks," she corrected. "The only madness my mother inherited from the Blacks was a lunacy about what names are okay to give your children."
Remus laughed. "I don't think Nymphadora is a bad name."
Tonks's eyes widened. "Then you are just as bonkers! You have gone your whole life with a nice name like Remus, you don't understand what it's like to have a first name that sounds like your sneezing and coughing at the same time."
"What?" Remus said grinning.
"Never mind," she said, "Just call me Tonks, okay?"
"Okay," he chuckled. "Well as I was saying, Tonks, as in touch with your instincts as you appear to be, I'm afraid you misjudged me."
"Yes," Remus confirmed. "I do not believe that the actions of members of your family are a reflection on you as a person."
"Thanks," Tonks said quietly. "What about the part about me not being much of a threat?" she asked flippantly.
A broad grin spread across Remus's face. "I assure you that I find you very threatening," he told her. Then he tried to make his face look serious. "I would offer to let you duel me blindfolded, but I would be afraid for my life."
Tonks laughed full-heartedly. "I could take you on you know," she told him. She had that look again, the mischievous one that reminded Remus of Sirius.
Remus pressed his lips together, sizing her up. "Perhaps," he said after a pause.
Their eyes locked. Remus could feel his heart pounding fast as if they were actually about to duel. Tonks felt like she had just fallen, and the wind had been knocked out of her.
"Tonks," called a rough voice.
"Bugger!" Tonks said, sliding from the branch and tripping forward.
Remus caught her by the arm before she could head face first into the ground.
"Thanks," she mumbled, straightening herself.
"You're welcome," Remus uttered back.
They both looked up and saw Mad-Eye Moody clunking towards them.
"Tonks," he said again. "You're supposed to be working. This isn't social time. Hello, Lupin," he said without skipping a beat.
"Mad-Eye," Remus greeted.
"How do you two know each other?" Tonks asked, looking from Moody to the professor.
"Never you mind," Mad-Eye said, his normal eye narrowed at her; the magical eye rolled around in its socket surveying the surrounding area for danger. "This is not teatime, there is a murderer on the loose."
Tonks sighed. "Yeah, I know," she said exasperated. "And I'm here instead of actually being useful."
Mad-Eye ignored her comment. It wasn't his fault that she wasn't allowed to be more involved in the Black case. Mad-Eye and Kingsley had vouched of her, but that wasn't enough. With all the madness that came with an Azkaban breakout, the higher-ups at the ministry were getting more involved with the Auror office than usual. The Minister of Magic himself insisted, with much pushing from his Senior Under Secretary, that Tonks was not allowed to be actively involved in this case due to a conflict of interest. It was even brought up if she should be allowed to become an auror at all. Luckily, Mad-Eye and Kingsley were able to shut that down immediately.
Tonks never had problems like this when she was at school. It helped that she had a different surname. Becoming an auror involves extensive background checks and much digging into prospective aurors' family trees. Applying for auror positions involve sitting through an interview under the influence of veritaserum. And Tonks was found to be alright and decent enough to be allowed to be put through training. So why now, in her last year of training, was she being excluded.
"Any reports?" Mad-Eye asked.
"None," Tonks said, "unless you count the professor here."
"I don't," Mad-Eye said. Mad-Eye pulled out his pocket watch and glanced at it. "Thompson should be here any minute to relieve you. Then you're done."
"Will you be back again some other night?" Remus asked. The hopeful tone to his voice caught Tonks off guard.
"Uh no," she said. "I was just here to work on stealth."
"How was she?" Mad-Eye asked Remus.
Remus caught Tonks's eye before he turned back to Mad-Eye. "Excellent," Remus reported.
"You are a terrible liar," Mad-Eye told him. "Tonks has the ability to be still and quiet as much as a snargaluff has the ability to pass for a daisy."
"But as inept at stealth as Tonks may be," Moody said pointedly to her. "She is one of the best forthcoming aurors I have ever seen. That is, when she is on task."
Tonks looked smugly at Remus.
Remus kept smiling around her. Why did she keep making him smile?
Suddenly a man on a broomstick appeared in the distance, coming downwards towards where they all stood. The man landed and tossed the broom aside. He was probably in his mid to late twenties and very fit. He turned to Tonks right away and flashed her a winning smile. She returned it briefly, but then her eyes flicked to Mad-Eye, clearly telling the man that this was not the time to be flirtatious.
Remus couldn't help but wonder what this man was to Tonks. Were they dating? Sleeping together? In love?
Mad-Eye seemed to not be oblivious to what was happening. "Your shift is done, Tonks. Thompson, carry on, then."
Thompson nodded and Mad-Eye began to stock off.
"Come on, Tonks," he called behind him.
Tonks gave the auror a little tight-lipped smile in farewell. He winked at her, ignoring Remus's presence completely.
Then Tonks's eyes fell upon Remus again. "It was nice meeting you, Professor," she said.
"Nice to meet you, Tonks," Remus returned.
"Tonks," Mad-Eye shot back at her.
She smirked and then hurried away.
It didn't take long to catch up with Mad-Eye.
"Tell me your profile of Remus Lupin," Mad-Eye said.
"What?" Her mind was still on the conversation she'd been having with the professor.
"Your profile," Mad-Eye said impatiently.
"Right," Tonks said seriously. "White male, about…" She jumped on the spot to estimate his height against hers. "He's like my height if I was wearing my green boots, you know, with thick heels and the laces up the sides."
"That is not a unit of measurement," Mad-Eye said drily, "but continue."
"He had greying, sandy brown hair and bl-blue eyes," she stammered. He did have nice eyes. They were the type of grey-blue that reminded Tonks of the ocean under a stormy sky, vast and temptingly mysterious.
"And he's about…" He had told her that he was in school with Sirius Black. "Early to mid-thirties," she said. "He teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts."
"What else did you notice about him?"
"Oh, he had scars on his face." She had been a little too distracted by the professor's blue eyes than she should have been. She completely overlooked the distinctive scars on his face. "They were slashed there." She took her own hand and swiped it across her face to illustrate the professor's marks. "It looked like a large animal or something attacked him. Some of them looked old, others looked…newer." Now that she was away from the professor and his conversation and blue eyes, Tonks had a newfound curiosity for the scars on his face. Anyone else and Tonks would have questioned them right away. The professor's kindness and gentleness completely masked the angry slashes across his face. How did they get there? Did he have some out of control dog or something? Or maybe he had a few run-ins with some of Hagrid's hippogriffs.
"How dangerous would you rate him?"
"I dunno," Tonks sighed. "He teaches at Hogwarts so he must be fairly skilled."
"I dunno," Tonks said again. "He seemed pretty harmless to me."
Amusement played on Mad-Eye's heavily scarred face.
"What is it?" Tonks demanded. He knew something she didn't.
Mad-Eye shook his head. "Nothing," he answered.