Tonks was not as embarrassed by her outburst in the hospital wing as she was by the fact that Remus would not even look at her. She slipped away from Hogwart's at the first opportunity she saw and apparated a few blocks from her flat. She wanted to have a bit of a walk, so she could try to sort through what she was feeling.
Dumbledore was dead.
Bill had been bitten.
Snape was a traitor.
The third one was not much of a surprise, but still. All of that on top of the whole Remus issue, and she was feeling overwhelmed.
Or whelmed anyway.
So she walked and tried to clear her head. She was so tired. Not just physically, from the battle and not sleeping; but deep down tired. All she wanted was to find a dark place, curl up and sleep forever.
For a couple of hours at least.
She trudged up the stairway to her flat, scrubbing her hands over her face. She let her hands drop when she reached the top of the stairs and came to a surprised stop.
Remus was sitting propped against her door, arms crossed over his drawn up knees. He had his head tilted back and his eyes closed.
The dim flickering light of the hallway cast unflattering shadows over him, emphasizing the lines of weariness and worry that furrowed his face. His hair was rumpled and mussed as if he'd been running his hands through it over and over as he was prone to do when agitated.
It wasn't fair, she decided, that he should still look so appealing to her after all the times he'd turned her down.
It also wasn't fair that she should want to cuddle him when she felt so bloody awful herself.
His head came up and he focused bloodshot eyes on her. "Tonks." He rose slowly.
She took a deep breath. "What are you doing here?"
"We need to talk."
She pulled out her wand and waved it at her door unlocking and unwarding it. "Does it have to be right now?"
He tucked his hands in his trouser pockets. "I rather think it does."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Why?" She wasn't in the mood for him to turn her down once more.
"Because I mightn't have the courage later." He said quietly.
She wasn't sure how to take that. So she shrugged, feigning indifference. No doubt he'd see through it, but at least she could pretend.
Tossing her hair, she attempted to sail past him proudly. Instead, she tripped on her shoelace and would have wound up on the floor if he hadn't caught her.
For a moment, she allowed herself to luxuriate in the feel of his arm around her waist, then she pulled away, stomping into her flat. For once, she thought angrily, she'd like to be able to act like an adult around him without looking stupid.
He followed her inside, closing the door behind him.
"D'you want tea?" She asked, her belligerent tone making it obvious that if he did he could bloody well make it himself.
"No. Thank you." He slipped off his robes and draped them carefully over the back of a chair. If she hadn't been trying to stay in a snit, she had found it funny. The robes were covered in dust and dirt and even blood.
She tugged her boots off and tossed them in a corner, then slipped off her robes, letting them drop where she stood.
Then she plunked her hands on her hips and faced him. "I'm not having the same bloody fight with you again, Remus. I'm too tired."
He shook his head. "No, Dora. Not the same fight."
There was something odd in his voice. Maybe the way he'd said her name, or maybe it was just the tone. She found herself holding her breath.
Remus was silent, gazing at her, trying to gather his thoughts. It wasn't as if he didn't know why he was there. For what purpose he'd come. But he was suddenly unsure.
"Should I sit down? is this going to take a while?" Tonks asked with a hint of her old attitude.
"You're angry with me." He stated.
She shrugged and flung herself down on the sofa.
"You've every right to be." he told her.
"Ta, ever so." She crossed her arms over her chest and gazed at him expectantly. "Well? You have something to say? Say it."
"Nymphadora..." He started.
"Don't call me that."
He sighed. "Dora, please."
"Oh, sit down for Merlin's sake." She told him. "You look as if you're about to face a rampaging Weasley."
He smiled weakly and sat on the sofa beside her. "It's been my impression that it is always best to be cautious around an angry woman."
She remained silent.
"I know you're angry with me, Dora, and I don't blame you. I've been such a shit about this whole thing."
She considered that. "Yes." She replied. "You have."
Remus chuckled. "I'll always know where I stand with you, won't I?"
"And I'll never know, will I Remus?" She countered. "We're just going to keep playing this game until one of us walks away, aren't we?" She bounced to the edge of the sofa as if to rise.
He turned toward her, reaching out and taking her hand. "It isn't a game to me, Dora. I'm sorry if you ever thought it was."
"Let me finish." He interrupted her.
She sat back with a pout.
"Don't pout. You're about to get your way."
She bounced again. "Remus are you..."
He held up his hand. "Let me finish."
"I've only wanted to keep you safe, you know." His thumb stroked the back of her hand softly. "You probably think it's archaic, but that's my way."
This time he only had to look at her and she fell silent.
"I realized something tonight." He continued. "What Arthur said was right. Young and whole men don't necessarily stay that way. At least with me, you already know what you're in for."
He lifted his hand and placed a finger against her lips. "Let me finish."
She looked fit to burst, he thought as he lowered his hand, but she didn't speak.
"I do love you, Dora. I've never felt this way for anyone before and it is absolutely terrifying, but I can't deny it anymore."
Her eyes were locked on his. "What are you saying?"
He took a deep breath. "I'm saying I'd like to give it a go, if you're willing. If I haven't completely buggered it up."
Her silence was not the answer he'd hoped for. "Dora?"
She opened her mouth, closed it; opened it, huffed out a breath and closed it again.
"Please say something." He whispered.
"You'd better kiss me soon." She whispered back. "So I know this is for real."
He lifted his hands, framing her face. "Nymphadora..." Leaning in, he brushed his lips over her forehead, her nose, her cheeks, and then ever so lightly touching her lips.
Her breath shuddered out on a sigh.
"I love you." He murmured between kisses. "I always have."