Tonks arrived at the Order Headquarters just before dark set in. She went straight to take a shower, wanting the grime and weariness of the past two weeks to be washed from her body. She'd been on another assignment of Dumbledore's, and she'd brushed death twice. She had information for the Order though, and that was all that mattered.
A small smile appeared on her face. Well . . . maybe that's not all that matters, she said to herself as she turned the faucet off. She grabbed her wand from the sink and did a few drying spells. She clasped a towel around her body and went back to her bedroom.
She'd been in the order for two years now, going on three. Recently, with the sudden wave of Death Eater attacks, Tonks had taken up residence at the Black house. She didn't have the time to take care of an apartment because she was always on a mission of some kind.
Tonks dressed quickly, putting on a thick robe that would shelter her from the post-winter cold. She went back downstairs to the kitchen, looking for a hot meal and some company.
Molly was fixing dinner, and she turned around when she heard Tonks' footsteps. "You're back," she said softly. The woman's eyes were always sad now. Fred and George, having come of age, had joined the Order last year. Dumbledore used them quite often because of their skills. They were knowledgeable of many things a common wizard wasn't.
"Hello, Molly," Tonks greeted. Her voice was a whisper. The giant house seemed unnaturally empty, and Tonks felt uncomfortable talking in a normal tone. "How have you been?"
"All right," Molly breezily said. "Stir that, dear."
Tonks immediately inserted her wand in the pot. "Are you sure that's safe?"
Molly quirked a smile. "I trust you, Tonks."
"Thank you," Tonks whispered. She looked down at the bubbling soup as she absentmindedly stirred it. "Who's coming for dinner tonight?"
"It's only Arthur and me. Everyone else is out on assignment or eating at home." Her voice echoed loneliness.
Tonks reached out with her free hand and placed it on Molly's shoulder. "We're going to get through this. You Know Who didn't succeed the first time, and he won't this time either."
Molly weakly nodded. She didn't say anything, and Tonks knew that she didn't believe a word Tonks had said.
"Where's Remus?" Tonks asked, keeping her eyes averted.
"He's at Hogwarts with Dumbledore," Molly replied, no trace of teasing in her voice at Tonks' unabashed question. "I think they're discussing what's gone on in the past week. Dumbledore usually likes for Remus to fill him in." Molly looked up and added, "Oh, but wait. I seem to recall him saying something about going to Germany for a few days."
Tonks' face fell. "Oh," she whispered. She realized her hand had stopped its movements, and she resumed them. "That's too bad."
"I think it's done, Tonks," Molly said. She reached into a jar and pulled out a cookie. "Have a biscuit, dear. I think it's all right to spoil dinner just this once."
"Just this once," Tonks repeated, nodding. She took the treat and sat down at the table. She nibbled it distractedly. She considered going over to Hogwarts, but the effort seemed too much. She desperately needed to see him, but she could wait. He would be at the meeting tomorrow evening. She could wait a day.
"I used to worry over Arthur," Molly said suddenly. She was pouring the soup into three bowls and putting perfectly golden rolls in a basket. "When the Order originated, we were both in it. I did a lot more back then, and we were separated for long periods of time." She set the bowls and rolls down. "I wanted to point out that I know how you're feeling."
Tonks felt that Molly did not, could not, understand. She nodded anyway. "Thanks for the biscuit, Molly."
Molly smiled warmly. "It makes me happy to cook for everyone. I used to make biscuits for the children all the time . . . but that was a long time ago, and there aren't any here to enjoy them."
Tonks reached up and squeezed Molly's hand affectionately. She and Molly hadn't gotten along terribly well at first, but war brought people together just as it tore them apart. "You can always look forward to grandchildren," she offered.
"I did always want to be a grandma." Molly sighed wistfully just as the front door opened.
Arthur appeared at the doorway of the kitchen. His cheeks and nose were rosy, and he shivered as he took his cloak off. "Good evening, Tonks. Glad to have you back." He went to Molly and kissed her chastely. "Love you, Molly," he whispered.
Tonks pretended not to hear, not wanting to intrude on such a private moment. They all sat down and began to enjoy their meal. Molly and Arthur filled Tonks in on what had gone on while she was gone, and Tonks told them of her own adventures. Tonks couldn't help feeling that the talk was dull and choking. She couldn't stand more talk of war, and she excused herself early without having another cookie.
Tonks went upstairs and curled up in her bed. The covers blocked out the cold, creating a cocoon around her. She was miserable and felt helpless. The war seemed to be eating her alive, and she was growing too weak to resist.
* * * * *
The next day passed slowly. Tonks slept in for most of the morning. She went with Molly to a Muggle restaurant for lunch, and they chatted about anything and everything that didn't have to do with the war. The next few hours Tonks spent tidying up her room, unpacking, and then helping Molly with supper. Everyone who wasn't on assignment was coming to the meeting.
Just before seven o'clock the doorbell started ringing. Only fifteen people besides the elder Weasleys and Tonks could make it. Everyone greeted Tonks warmly and attempted to chit chat, but Tonks was too distracted to pay too much attention. She felt her veins jumping, anticipating Remus' presence.
When Remus finally came, they had already sat down to dinner. Tonks was surrounded by people already, and he was forced to sit on the other side of the table. She caught his eye briefly, but he looked away quickly. She turned her head to her food and ate tastelessly.
Molly cleaned up the table, insisting on being the hostess, and the meeting was brought to order. Everyone who had news stood up to share it, and the air around them seemed to slowly thicken with grief.
When there was a lapse in the news, Molly interjected with: "How's Harry? Is he doing all right? How are Ron and Ginny?"
Snape sneered at her. "You think that I spend my free time watching they're every move?" he asked, sounding offended. "I'm not-"
"They're doing well, Molly," Remus interrupted, his gentle voice breaking Snape's harsher one. "Ginny said to send her love to both of you. Ron, Hermione, and Harry are all busy with their courses. Harry . . ." Remus shrugged. "Harry is Harry."
"Closed off?" Molly looked worried.
"When isn't he?"
"It's not healthy-"
"May I interrupt," Snape slurred, "to say that this meeting is not to discuss the well-being of Potter. This meeting is to catch up on news and reassignments. I have the list from Dumbledore."
He named off a few names, and when the person in question responded he quoted their assignment.
"Remus Lupin," he spat the name, "you will be going to Germany tomorrow morning. You'll stay there for four days. Dumbledore has used Fudge to arrange for you to talk to their Ministry. He wants to know about some Dark magic that's been reported going on over there." He looked up to glare at Remus. "I would suggest not mentioning your predicament, Lupin. They might put you away over there; strict laws against-"
"Move on, Severus," Arthur interjected, his usually kind voice low and serious.
Snape ignored him and continued. "Nymphadora Tonks." He looked up at her. "You'll be going to Surrey tomorrow-"
"No, I won't," Tonks said quietly. Her head buzzed slightly. She had been dreading this moment almost as much as she'd been looking forward to seeing Remus.
The table went quiet. Snape looked up at her coldly. "Excuse me?"
Tonks met his eyes squarely. "I said that I will not be going to Surrey tomorrow."
"May I ask why not?"
"I'm quitting the Order."
There were gasps around the table. Everyone's eyes were on her. "Quitting?" Molly demanded. "Why?"
Tonks looked down at her lap. "I can't keep traveling all over Europe," she murmured, exposing only half the truth. "I'm too weary."
"Leave of absence?" Charlie Weasley suggested.
Tonks shook her head. "This is permanent." She looked up. "I'm sorry for letting you all down."
"You haven't let us down, Tonks," Remus said.
"Thank you," she whispered, locking eyes with him.
Snape cleared his throat. "Back to the matter at hand. Arthur, would you be willing to . . ."
The meeting trailed on for another hour. Tonks fidgeted the whole time. She couldn't wait for it to be over, and finally Snape called it to an end. "I have to get back to Hogwarts," he announced. "This Order of the Phoenix meeting is ended. I will see you all in two weeks' time." He stood up and swept out the door without saying good-bye.
Everyone else remained to say their good nights to the others, but Tonks couldn't stand it. When she caught Remus' eyes again, she nodded her head towards the hallway, indicating he should follow her. Then she got up very discreetly and left. She went up the stairs and into her bedroom, leaving the door open so that Remus would know where she was.
It took a few minutes, but finally she heard someone ascending the stairs. She waited, carefully perched on her bed. A second later Remus appeared at her door.
"Shut the door, Remus. I want this to be private," Tonks said, standing up and wringing her hands.
Remus obliged. As soon as he heard the click of the door jamb, he rushed towards her and kissed her. It was a soft kiss that was meant to be short. When he pulled away, he began to caress her lower back. "I've wanted to do that all night."
"Why didn't you?"
"Too many people." Remus closed his eyes and breathed in. She knew he was taking in her scent. He always did that - a werewolf instinct, she suspected. "You're quitting the Order."
Tonks felt her stomach knot up. She pulled away from him, wanting her space. He let her go, and she paced the room. "Remus . . ."
She stopped pacing abruptly, landing right in front of him. "I'm pregnant."
The blood drained from Remus' face. He sat backwards on the bed with a distant stare.
"It's going on three months now. I only found out three weeks ago, but I haven't been able to see you. This is the type of thing that I couldn't put in a letter."
Remus put his forehead in his hand. "I would imagine not."
"I can't keep working this job with it's dangerous missions. I'm still going to help out as much as I can though. It means so much to me."
Remus reached for her and pulled her onto his lap. "We can't raise a baby in the middle of the war."
Tonks knew that. She rested her cheek on his shoulder. "We're going to have to. As much as I would have liked to wait . . . this . . . feels right somehow."
Remus held her closer. "I love you," he whispered, kissing her forehead.
Tonks closed her eyes. "I know. I love you, too, Remus. I'm sorry that I put it on you like that. I don't know how else to deal with the situation than to just say it bluntly."
"I know. I'm not upset." He tilted her head to get better access to her lips. "In fact . . . you might say that this is Remus Lupin's way of showing ecstatic happiness."
He kissed her as an answer. Tonks closed her eyes and got caught up in the passion he was giving her. When she had first found out that she was pregnant, she'd been distraught and confused. She'd had no idea what to do about it. It had taken her a couple of weeks, and her decision to quit the Order seemed sudden, but it felt right.
Remus put a hand under her robes and shirt; he splayed it out across her stomach. A small smile of wonderment crossed his face. "It's hard," he murmured.
"I wish I could say that I've got abs of steel, but I'd be lying." Tonks grinned. "It happens in the early stages of pregnancy."
Remus moved them so that they were both side by side on the bed. He tucked a piece of her hair behind one ear. "I'm going to try and stay here as much as possible. I don't want to miss a second."
"You're not acting like I expected you to act," she admitted.
"I think . . . I already knew."
Tonks arched an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"
He averted his eyes. "The last time we were together was right before the full moon. You know that my senses are keener at that time." He reached out for her, pressed her close. "I didn't know, but something was . . . off." He turned them over so that he could hover over her body. His free hand went to rub her stomach. "I dismissed it at the time, but my subconscious kept probing at me to put it together."
"And did you?"
"I put it together after you said you were quitting. I knew you wouldn't quit because you're a coward. I knew there had to be something very important."
"Are you okay with this?"
Remus kissed her, lingering, tasting. She felt like she was melting, and she used his shoulders to lever herself closer to him. When he pulled back, his eyes were slightly darker than before.
"I couldn't be happier, Tonks."
She rested her head on a pillow and closed her eyes. "Ditto," she murmured.
He ran a hand down her side. ". . . Now that we have that covered . . ."
Tonks smiled right before he took her mouth again. She ran her hands through his hair and thanked whatever higher power there was that she was lucky enough to have a man as wonderful as Remus.