Remus found the folded parchment on his pillow when he returned at dawn. He gazed at it thoughtfully as he stripped off his dusty robes. He folded the robes and laid them at the foot of his bed and then picked up the parchment. He didn't recognize the loopy handwriting, so he unfolded it, glancing at the bottom to find a signature.
The name he found made him pause.
Why was Tonks writing him a letter? She only practically lived in the same house.
Bemused, he began to read.
I thought you should know something.
I can't sleep when you're not here.
I worry about you. I know you wouldn't like to hear that. It's not that I think you can't take care of yourself, I know you can. I see past that gentle unassuming exterior that everyone else sees. I've seen the violence and anger you hide.
You can take care of yourself, I know. But I'm afraid you don't want to. It seems to me that you've given up on life since Sirius died. You don't eat, you hardly sleep... I've been watching you.
She'd been watching him? Tonks? He hadn't realized that. He sighed and looked back at the letter, reading more.
I bet you didn't know that, did you?
He chuckled at that.
The nights that I stay here, I can hear when you leave, and can't fall asleep until I hear you come back. And sometimes, I can't sleep even then, because I can hear you moving around downstairs and I want to go to you and talk to you, but I can't because I'll just get nervous and trip on something or break something, or say something stupid.
He sighed. Oh, Tonks. If only she had known the number of nights he had wanted someone to come and talk to him. someone who wouldn't pity him or treat him like an invalid, but just someone to talk to. To distract him from his own thoughts.
And I couldn't go to you because I was certain that you would be able to see what I was feeling. You would look at me and know how much I wanted to be with you.
Remus stopped and reread the last line. What?
There. I said it. So its up to you now, I suppose. It is taking the coward's way, writing this in a letter, but I just didn't have the nerve to tell you to your face. And this way, if you aren't interested, or just don't think of me that way, you can just pretend that this never happened. I promise I'll respect your decision. I wouldn't want to force you into anything.
I just thought you should know.
She wanted to be with him? He was stunned. And flattered. What would a young girl like Tonks want with an old wolf like him?
He had nothing to offer. He had no job, no money. He was despised by most of the wizarding community. He was given to fits of melancholy and once a month he turned into a real beast.
She was young and innocent. She had her whole life in front of her. It would be a big mistake for her to throw her lot in with his.
He was intrigued.
Nymphadora. He pictured her dimpled smile and ever-changing eyes. The crazy hair and compact athletic body.
He was tempted.
Before he could change his mind, he left his room and went to hers, knocking briskly on the door.
He heard a muffled crash and an oath, then the door opened. Tonks stood in the doorway, clad in rumpled jeans and a lime green t-shirt that matched the random stripes in her bobbed hair.
"Remus?" She squeaked, then dropped her wand.
She flushed a bright pink and quickly bent to retrieve it.
"Nervous about something, Tonks?" Remus teased gently.
Her blush deepened. "What do you mean?"
He held up the letter. "This, perhaps?" Why hadn't he ever noticed how pretty she was?
She blinked. "Oh. Right. That."
She looked down at her bare feet, gnawing on her bottom lip. "So you read it, then?"
"I did." He replied, his voice solemn.
She peeked up at him. "And?"
He tucked the letter into his trouser pocket. "I wanted to clear something up."
She dropped her wand again. "You do?"
This time, he picked up her wand. "Nymphadora..." He held the wand out to her.
She tried to take it from him, but he wouldn't release it. She lifted her eyes to his. "Remus?"
He took a deep breath. "Did you mean it?"
"What?" She tugged on her wand, but he held fast.
"What you wrote." He said patiently. "Did you mean it?"
She looked away again. "Well, yeah. I did."
He released her wand. "Good."
Her confused eyes flew up to meet his.
He smiled at her. It felt like the first real smile he'd had in weeks. "Want some cocoa?"
It wasn't a declaration or proposition of any kind, but it was a start.