Disclaimer: Not mine.
OMG HBP WOW.
Tonks wasn't a tactful person. She couldn't handle difficult problems with delicacy; she rarely got through a conversation without putting her foot in her mouth at least once.
But she was concerned about Remus, so she did her best. And her best meant cornering the werewolf as he finished packing up Sirius' room and asking, "Were you and Sirius lovers?"
Remus stared at her in complete shock, then laughed. It wasn't the pleasant, rich laugh she'd heard a few times over the previous year, but it was nevertheless very welcome, considering Lupin had been nearly mute since the Department of Mysteries debacle.
Tonks was understandably taken aback, however, at this apparent dismissal of her question. She hadn't thought she'd been so far off base in her assumption - in fact, she'd been sure the two of them were involved. The way they'd looked at each other...
"Sorry," Remus said, with a small smile that looked out of place on his gaunt, shadowed face. "I just wasn't prepared for that question, and certainly not so plainly put."
Tonks went a bit red - she'd always been friendly with Remus, but they weren't exactly bosom buddies. She must have either seriously misjudged the situation, or completely overstepped her bounds. "I didn't - I mean, I'm sorry if-"
"You're right, though - we were indeed lovers."
Her eyes widened. "Oh."
"It was...we dated when we were at Hogwarts," Remus explained, nudging a box out of the way so he could sit on Sirius' bed. Tonks didn't quite dare sit beside him - she felt as if she'd invaded his privacy quite enough already - but she perched on a trunk near the door. "After he...after Sirius escaped from Azkaban...it was hard, and we never regained what we'd had, but we were both lonely..."
"I get it," Tonks said quickly, disliking the sorrow that had filled Remus' pensive gaze. Remus offered her another smile, but this one was strained and contrived.
The room seemed unnaturally quiet, enough so that Tonks was desperate to fill the silence. "Tell me about him. I mean, what he was like before..." Before Azkaban, but she couldn't bring herself to say it aloud. Remus looked tormented enough already.
He eyed her thoughtfully for a long moment, then nodded. "I didn't meet him until we were at Hogwarts; I don't even remember his Sorting. I was too nervous myself, certain that at any moment one of the older students would realize I was a werewolf and have me sent away. That night, I was too tired to spend much time talking with the other first year Gryffindor boys, so I didn't really get to know Sirius until the next day.
"Sirius was...he was different from everyone else. Odd, a little volatile; he had mood swings that terrified me at first. He'd go from being cheerful and bright to sullen and angry in the blink of an eye, often for no apparent reason.
"He had already become fast friends with James on the Hogwarts Express, and Peter had attached himself to them both the previous night, so I was somewhat on the outside at first. Those first few weeks, the three of them mostly ignored me. I was shy and quiet and serious, and therefore a rather dull boy."
Tonks bit back a grin. "So not much has changed, then."
Remus' lips twitched. "If you would rather I not continue..."
"Sorry, sorry. Go on."
"The first few months, I was mostly on my own. I had an amiable enough relationship with James, Sirius, and Peter, but we weren't very close at all. But before long, Sirius and James noticed that there was something odd about me. I'd get sick each month, without fail; I'd disappear one night, and come back battered and bruised in the morning. They began to pay me more attention, badger me for answers... Peter didn't much care either way, but neither of them - Sirius or James - could ever leave any stone unturned, any mystery unsolved. Harry is very much his father's son in that regard."
There was a tender amusement in his voice when he mentioned Harry that made Tonks' insides feel all gushy, like chocolate left out too long in the sun. She tried to remind herself sternly that she was an auror, tough and rough and mean.
Unfortunately, at the moment she felt neither tough nor rough, and she'd never been mean.
"By the end of the year," Remus went on, with a hint of humor glimmering in his eyes, "they'd figured out that I was a werewolf. They confronted me, and I was so certain that they would tell someone, that the tentative friendships we'd managed to build would crumble. But even a studious, quiet werewolf is interesting and exciting to eleven year old boys, and I was welcomed into the group. Then there were the four of us, though I don't think Peter ever really forgave me for taking his place in Sirius and James' esteem."
Remus looked at her, hurt. "What did I say?"
Tonks choked. "Not you! I meant Pettigrew!"
His lips curved into a smile, and Tonks realized belatedly that he'd been teasing her. He was acting much more cheerful than he had been the past week, and Tonks began to think there was actually something to all this 'talking out your feelings' nonsense.
She couldn't help feeling a sort of wistful sadness that Sirius wasn't with them, though she'd come to terms with his death. She missed him so much, and couldn't begin to imagine what Remus was feeling.
Disturbed by the mix of lingering gushiness and oncoming melancholy, she distracted herself by calling Lupin a rather unsavory name.
"No need for any of that," he said mildly.
Tonks heaved a great sigh. "Oh, just get on with the story. When did the two of you get together? When was your first kiss?"
Remus chuckled. "I suppose you want all the steamy details?"
Tonks waggled her eyebrows in response.
"He kissed me when we were sixteen," Remus told her, smiling fondly at the memory. "He claimed it was a part of his research paper for Defense - he was studying Dark Creatures, mostly werewolves. 'What essay on werewolves is complete,' he said, 'without an account of what it's like to kiss one?' I was completely unprepared - I'd only just recently come to terms with the fact that I liked boys as well as girls, and certainly hadn't planned on snogging my best friend."
"You like women as well?" Tonks asked, surprised and oddly pleased.
Remus nodded. "I do, yes. Why?"
"Er. No reason. Just curious."
She had a sinking feeling that she wasn't telling the whole truth. Fortunately, Remus didn't seem to notice how red she'd gone, and instead continued his narrative.
"I wouldn't speak to Sirius for nearly a month after that. Our friendship had already been strained after an incident in our fifth year, and I think he was afraid he'd finally gone too far, because he groveled and begged for attention and apologized more times than I could count. But we started dating in our seventh year, once he'd managed to assure me he was serious, and once I'd gotten over my own insecurities. I moved into his apartment after we left Hogwarts, and we stayed together until a month after Harry was born."
Remus' voice had gotten quieter, and now he sounded grim and a little angry.
"Someone was leaking information - one of the four of us. Sirius suspected me. He followed me when I met with a few other werewolves, supporters of Voldemort. He thought they were recruiting me, when it was really the other way around. I tried to explain...but he wouldn't listen. He had complete confidence in James, after all, and we never suspected Peter, not when he practically worshipped the ground James walked on...
"Lily trusted me still, but she was the only one. James tried to pretend nothing had changed, but he never left me alone with either Harry or Lily, and he and Sirius were always watching me, waiting for me to betray myself. The Order started to exclude me from meetings and missions.
"And then one day, James and Lily disappeared. I didn't know at the time that they'd used the Fidelius charm; I was terrified that they'd been captured. Dumbledore assured me they were fine, but he wouldn't tell me what was going on. And not a week later, they were dead. They were dead, and Sirius..."
Tonks looked away, blinking back tears.
"When he escaped," Remus said, speaking slowly and carefully, "he was different. Changed. Azkaban broke him, and I tried to put him back together...but I don't think he wanted to be healed. I think he was tired. And I...I think he's happier, wherever he is now, than he would be here."
Tonks nodded, not trusting herself to speak right away. After a few seconds, though, she offered Remus a watery smile and said, "I miss him."
Remus closed his eyes tightly and took a deep breath. "So do I."
"Will you be all right?" Tact, Tonks had decided, was overrated.
Remus' gaze was oddly intense, then, and he seemed to be trying to see her inside and out. She fought the urge to squirm like a child under her parent's glare.
Finally, he said, "I do think I will."