Disclaimer: This story is based on the books and characters created and owned by J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, Scholastic and Warner Brothers. No money is being made from this. No infringement on copyright is intended.

Summary: one-shot, angsty, pwp, RLNT. Even if he denies what they have by denying it its name, it exists anyway.

A/N: short, one-shot, pwp, slightly sweet angst or fluff in angst clothing... shrug and a breather from Lonely Choices (my extremely tiring WIP). For once I want to write without trying so hard to keep things in canon.
RLNT because it is an elegant ship- they speak more to each other with the things that are left unsaid. pls R&R

Empty Names

Names are powerful things.

It is like how the entire wizarding world acts and has labeled their greatest fear as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, as if saying it out loud would invoke his presence in their company.

It is like how she refuses to use Nymphadora. It is long, unwieldy and serious, and she is afraid that people, who hear her name before meeting her, would peg her as a librarian with an overzealous linguist for a mother. Everything a pink haired, pixie-like Auror is not.

It is like how he uses lycanthrope instead of werewolf. The former describes his plight more clearly- a chronic affliction whose main manifestation is a monthly change and loss of control to the wolf. The later merely concocts images of beasts with murderous appetites, as if he exists longer in that state than in human form.

After what happened to Sirius, for a time they were stuck using different words for the loss. They would say that he is gone or beyond the veil. It was a struggle before they learned to wrap their lips around the word dead, because it is as if they had caused his demise themselves by merely using the word with its heavy, hollow finality.

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The Order now knew who their leak was. The vile house elf who was sworn into servitude to the Black family had broken his oath and delivered his master to his death. As such, the Order had two options: The first was to keep Kreacher, but nothing kept the elf from talking to Narcissa. Although the elf could not divulge Order secrets because of the Fidelius Charm, he could continue to give them tiny details to use as leverage such as how Harry is coping with the loss of his godfather. The second was to give Kreacher clothes. This would drive him away from Order Headquarters permanently. Whatever the elf knew he could have told the Malfoys already, anyhow, so the Order might as well cut their losses. But the only person who could do that is Tonks- the last of the Blacks who has access to 12 Grimmauld Place.

Problem is, Kreacher has not shown himself at headquarters, yet.

However, bound by the enchantments of his kind, he has to return soon and Tonks has to be there to dispense of the said ritual of release. Because of this, Dumbledore had suggested that Nymphadora Tonks take up temporary residence at 12 Grimmauld Place.

It really was ideal since having been hit by a stunner and injured in the fray in the Department of Mysteries, Tonks sported a few curse wounds and a badly fractured leg that needed time- and not just magical remedies- to heal. And living alone, in an apartment, without anybody to assist her, does not seem ideal for healing.

So that's what brought Tonks to stay at Grimmauld Place with the resident werewolf who has been recently appointed as temporary guardian of the headquarters and unofficial caretaker of one clumsy witch.

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She always greets him with a smile that is slightly thin around the edges and he answers with one of his own, both of them pretending that they aren't worn thin by Sirius' death and the war that is going on around them.

It is all a matter of developing the skills of ignoring the obvious and pretending. These things are tantamount to survival.

So while Tonks is on sick-leave and with Remus housebound by her injury, in their state of isolation, it is easy to pretend. They pretend there's no war, that there is no need for worry since there is time for that tomorrow. Today, they live together in Grimmauld place- play house, really, but Remus refuses to use that name- acting that this is common place and ordinary and something that will last six months from now. But it will not, even if they don't say it aloud. After Sirius, laughing and joking one moment, gone the next, they do not dare believe that anything will last. They have both forgotten how to make plans past next week. Living is becoming a day to day struggle.

So in the brief respite, they aim for normalcy.

She drinks tea from his mug, an annoying little habit he noticed that she picked up ever since she returned to Grimmauld Place. She says it saves her the few precious steps to get a mug down from the cupboard (and saves a few mugs for that matter) and waves her magical crutches as an excuse.

If this, what they have, was something that would last beyond a few lonely days, he should tell her to get her own mug because what she is doing would soon join his list of pet peeves. He refrains from doing so, since he believes that this time together is temporary and a little idiosyncrasy is something that he could deal with. Besides, naming it out loud is like a promise of more time spent in each others company, as if she would choose to spend that time with a werewolf- no, lycanthrope.

He tries not to recognize the feeling that wells in him when she purses her lips to cool the liquid a bit, lifts the mug to her lips and takes a big swallow of his drink. In some countries, people burn the objects used by a werewolf, calling them tainted and foul. In 12 Grimmauld Place, she shares his tea. When his mug is returned to the spot before him, he calls the feeling that wells within him annoyance. He does it to distract himself as he lifts the mug to his lips and tastes her.

He pretends that he hasn't been feeling it all year. He pretends that this girl- woman really- with her cheerful demeanor and matter-of-fact acceptance of his disease, is not constantly on his mind, lurking in the periphery in the midst of Order missions. His nonchalance towards her easy offer of friendship, when he has struggled so hard to gain the acceptance of others belies his real feeling, the one that has been simmering softly just beneath the surface which he tries valiantly to ignore all year.

He reminds himself of these names, labels- older, werewolf, constant reminder of a lost cousin that she adored.

He knows what it feels like to lose everything, having that happen to him that fateful Halloween night. He knows what it feels like to think you have been given a second grace, a best friend and a piece of the past regained, only to lose it again through a veil on a dais. He is more accustomed to being an outcast than belonging so he refuses any offer beyond friendship.

So he says, no, this is temporary. It is- he tries to name it- merely lust, the pull of the moon on his blood and the need for human contact in a war that is slowly killing them with numbness. He fights valiantly against the desperate longing that he feels for her.

He has lost too many in the struggle to know that if he dares to hope then loses her, the pain would be unbearable.

Lust, yes that's what it is. He repeats it like a mantra.

Only, once her leg had healed and she had left the headquarters, the first thing he missed was the way she shares his mug then gives him a sheepish smile by way of apology.

Even if he denies what they have by denying it its name, it exists anyway.