Disclaimer: I am an American. Sorry bout that.

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When Tonks told him she loved him, he was a tad taken back. This was largely because he had scarcely talked to her since Sirius's death and (he searched his memory) could not isolate a single incident in which she had showed any special interest in him whatsoever. It was also partly because he had never had a woman tell him she loved him before and, if nothing else, that endeared him to Tonks. He wasn't sure what to say, but she was waiting for an answer, and it would be rude to not give her one.

I'm flattered, but-Don't say that! she burst in angrily. That's just one of those empty phrases people use to cushion the rejection!

Remus blinked. Was it really? He'd been blessedly absent during his friends' more disastrous break ups.

What is it? she demanded. Is it my age? he said. He'd known for years that age had little to do with maturity... most unfortunately.

she said, staring hard at him, is it because you're a werewolf? Remus said, but not in the way you believe.

I don't care! she said, thumping the table with her open hand for good measure. I don't care about something like that!No, that's not what I- but then they were interrupted, and Tonks swept out looking a bit hurt. Remus frowned, as he hadn't been given the chance to explain himself more clearly. Of course, being turned into a werewolf - especially at a young age - inevitably affects one's interpretation of the world, which in turn affects their personality, and the fact of the matter was Remus was not a terribly social person. Yes, that was the fault of the bite, but he did not sit around lamenting his inability to connect to most people. All his hobbies were solitary ones, and he enjoyed them. He enjoyed his life, he did not think about what he did not have, and he was, to be completely blunt, boring.

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The next time Tonks hunted him down, he instead tried to explain his current finances, or more importantly, his finances over the past fifteen-odd years, and how that had naturally contributed to a majority of personality flaws that would irk her to no end, would nag at him, and undoubted start fights he had no interest in having. Unfortunately, Tonks took stingy' and thrifty' to mean he thought he wasn't rich enough for her, and proclaimed loudly that she had more than enough money for the both of them.

That's not it, he tried to explain. I would nit pick every purchase you would ever make - how much you could have saved, where you could have gotten a better bargain, and every time I saw that table I would imagine all the food you could have bought with the money and put on an equally good table for a fraction of the price.Why are you going on about TABLES? she'd cried, and he told her that was just the point. Somehow the conversation got turned around to their ages, and he told her he was too weary, too tired for relationships, which she took to mean he though he was too old for her.

He'd lost things, seen things he genuinely hoped she never saw, and it had taken too much out of him. She deserved someone who hadn't been disenchanted. She deserved a whole man.

He told her so.

Now you're starting with that werewolf nonsense again! she said, close to tears, and it was a mark of how tired he was that he didn't correct her.

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When Lupin heard Dumbledore was dead, only two thoughts managed to make themselves clear.

The first was, Oh God.

The second was, If Sirius were still alive, he'd be too angry to even say I told you so.'

And that was enough to prove how shaken Remus was, because he had never before thought If Sirius were still alive...' much in the same way he had never thought If I hadn't been bitten...' or If Peter hadn't betrayed us...'

Perhaps it had been a bad premonition, he thought, and really wished Tonks hadn't brought it up right then. She always managed to make his reasons sound like no reason at all when she recounted them to third parties. Later, when he had left the hospital wing and Tonks skidded up behind him, stopping him in the hall, he wished she hadn't done that, either.

she asked him, looking cranky, exhausted, a tad hysterical, and nothing like her usual self. I've told you a million times - why can't you understand me?

There was so much irony in her statement that he could have laughed, and would have, if it were any other day. It occurred to him, then, that she had never shown any interest in him before Sirius's death, before things got really bad. She must see me, he thought, as something safe, something familular.

This is all emotionally exhausting. I do not think you would be interested in me if it were not happening.God damn it, Remus! she shouted, and it was a little nicer look to her. Why do you always sell yourself short?

I'm not, he thought. He rather liked himself, actually, but he didn't lie to himself. It wasn't a defeated opinion, as Tonks called it - it was an honest one.

I just want to be with you, she was quiet now. I'm lonely. I was sure you would understand.

But being with someone just for the sake of being with someone - wasn't that just as lonely, he wondered? Or perhaps, and it was more than likely, he had been alone so long that had become part of his personality, too.

Still, when all was said and done. I don't feel about you the way you feel about me. she demanded hotly, wiping her eyes on the back of her sleeve. Since when do you have to be in love to date? Haven't you ever heard of shopping around? Some people do it just get to know each other! It's not like I'm asking you to marry me!

Remus looked at her, and hesitated, but he didn't list the reasons why this wouldn't work. Remus always was the considerate one, though with his friends, it was hardly a contest.

He considered loving someone again, even if it weren't a house with a white picket fence, two point five kids, and family dog kind of love.

he said, what's your favorite brand of chocolate?

Tonks grinned at him for the first time in a long time.

- -

As a favor to him, Tonks didn't tell him she loved him again.

As a favor to her, Remus didn't tell her it wouldn't go anywhere.

But she did hold his hand when they buried Dumbledore, and he did take her out to dinner once every few months, and she did help him buy new furniture, even though it had made her so mad she smashed his wall clock, broke the sink, and swore up and down she would never come near him again for fear she would break some of his bones as well. And they did love each other, though certainly not in the way most had expected, nor hoped.

When people asked, with exaggerated nudged, winking, and eyebrow raising, when they were going to get married, Tonks laughed at them.

It would never work, she said. He brushes his teeth before breakfast.

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END