Author note: This is a leisurely, wistful Remus-Tonks romance that endeavors to respect the generally rather traditional social norms of the wizarding world (no impulsive tumbling into bed, at least not on the part of Remus and Tonks) and the gravity of Remus Lupin's condition (because, in the world J. K. Rowling has created for us, lycanthropy is real and crippling—physically and, potentially, morally as well). I envision this story as an account of Remus Lupin's psychological voyage of discovery vis-à-vis Nymphadora Tonks. Expect twenty chapters.

Chapter 1: In the Kitchen

Nymphadora Tonks was a Hogwarts friend of Charlie Weasley's whom Arthur recruited for the Order. She had trained as an Auror and gone to work for the Ministry, and one evening Remus arrived at Grimmauld Place to find Sirius and Mad-Eye Moody entertaining a young witch with spiky pink hair.

"Remus," said Sirius, "this is Nymphadora—"

"Tonks!" exclaimed the witch.

"—who is possibly the only daughter of the House of Black—"

"I am not a daughter of the House of Black!"

"— ever to make good. She is brave, she is beautiful, and she is my cousin, so hands off. She's coming to work for the Order."

"Wotcher, Remus?" said the witch, smiling cheekily.

He liked her at once. Her intuition was sound, her intelligence keen, her reflexes quick, and her dueling skills good. Her efforts to help Molly with the housework were clumsily endearing. Tonks's full-time job at the Ministry limited her contribution to the Order to odd jobs and casual espionage, but her pragmatic interjections at meetings fascinated Remus. She had an ability to cut to the heart of the matter, a maturity of judgment, that belied her youth, for in appearance she could easily have passed for eighteen.

She was perceptive. Scarcely ten days after Tonks joined the Order, Remus apparated into Grimmauld Place following a grim and painful transformation at a shack in the Peak District. His condition was hurting him more than it had in years; the Wolfsbane Potion controlled his outward aggression but not his anguished dreams, and he resented every hour lost in the fight against Lord Voldemort.

Tonks was sitting alone at Sirius's kitchen table. "Wotcher, Remus?" she asked. "Molly told me you were ill."

"I'm feeling better now, thank you."

"Do you always get sick at the full moon?"

Remus was staggered. No one had ever figured it out so quickly before. "I'm a werewolf. Did Molly tell you?"

"No, but it was clear there was something she wasn't telling me. And Sirius calls you 'Moony.' It's treatable now, isn't it?"

"It's treatable," muttered Remus. "Treatable but not curable. I feel like I spend half my life being sick, and I'm a danger to everyone around me."

"I shouldn't think so, no, not if the potion is working."

Remus raised his eyebrows.

"I'm an Auror, Remus. I've studied werewolves. I wrote five scrolls of parchment on werewolf, giant, and goblin mainstreaming for my first-year mods. Believe me, werewolves came off best. Shall I make you some tea?" She flicked her wand at the kettle, which promptly whistled, overflowed, and dripped hot water all over Molly's dog-eared copy of One-Charm Baking.

Tonks also proved willing to deploy her vast store of general knowledge on behalf of the order. "Tonks's grandparents are Muggles," Arthur explained proudly over dinner one night. "They live in a special type of Muggle house called a 'semi-detached,' with eckeltricity and plugs and everything. She's been to stay with them—"

"Loads of times," smiled Tonks.

"—and last Christmas holidays they made her popcorn in their microwand oven! Really, I don't know where Muggles get such ingenious ideas! Microwand ovens are almost like cooking by wand—for people who can't do magic, of course. They're boxes, like this—" Arthur indicated the dimensions with his hands.

"Not exactly micro," observed Fred.

"Yeah, they ought to call them macro-wand ovens," scoffed George.

"—and there are hundreds of tiny wands implanted in the sides of the box and the roof and the floor. You put the corn kernels in the middle of the box and press a button, and poof! All the little wands shoot spells at the corn kernels, and they pop, just like magic!"

"Some of them tell the time, too, Arthur," said Tonks.

A dreamy expression flooded Arthur's face. "I really, really ought to get us a microwand oven. We could put it in the living room at the Burrow, and—"

"Arthur, you have better things to do these days than tinker around with Muggle gimcracks! Surely—"

Ron rolled his eyes. Remus cleared his throat and tapped Molly gently on the shoulder. "Molly, if everyone's been served now, I have a question for the group. About Harry."

"Oh, yes, Remus, of course. You're going to fetch him, aren't you?"

"As soon as possible. Me and about nine of my closest friends." Tonks laughed. "The question is, how are we going to distract his aunt and uncle long enough to leave the coast clear?"

"Surely we can handle a trio of unarmed Muggles," said Mad-Eye Moody. "Just a couple Petrificus Totalus spells, and some minor memory modification—"

"Can I come?" asked Fred. "George and I've got some great ideas about how to modify Dudley's memory. We might insert a thing or two, of course—"

"You are not flying on any missions for the Order!" shouted Molly, exasperated. "You are seventeen years old—"

"I'll come along as Snuffles and create a diversion," suggested Sirius eagerly. "That Petunia is certain to be afraid of dogs—"

"You are not flying on any missions for the Order, either, Sirius!"

"Molly, you can't talk to me that way, I am not your child—"

"Sirius?" said Remus quietly. "Molly? This is silly. We can take on the Dursleys if need be, but Dumbledore already had to send them a howler, and he thinks it would be better if we got them quietly out of the way with a minimum of magic. So do I. We just need some simple diversionary tactics."

"I'll send them a telegram saying they've been short-listed for the all-England best-kept suburban lawn competition," said Tonks brightly.

"Naw, no one'd believe that," said Ron. "How about inviting them to an exposition of really up-to-date Muggle tooth-straightening hardware? Super-efficient, just three years and—Ouch! Hermione, why did you kick me?"

"Maybe you could offer them a brand-new microwand oven," suggested Arthur, "and tell them they have to go to Dorchester to pick it up. No, wait, that wouldn't work, we'd have to actually get a microwand oven from somewhere," he added sadly.

"Let's go with the all-England best-kept suburban lawn competition," said Remus. "Unless, of course, you would prefer to offer them a free car wash-wax-rinse-and-spin."

"How'd you think of that?" cried Tonks, delighted.

"Well, you see, my grandparents were Muggles too."

The Order of the Phoenix held its meetings at irregular hours—sometimes before supper, sometimes late at night or in the wee hours of the morning—in the once stately, now dilapidated dining room on the first floor rear of Grimmauld Place. During Dumbledore's too frequent absences, Remus found himself running meetings, tasting an unfamiliar authority after years of drifting from one small teaching job to the next and then—when Dolores Umbridge's Werewolf Regulatory Act took effect—just drifting. He had been a fresh and, he now realized, unseasoned twenty-two in the First War; the witches and wizards he looked up to then now seemed to be deferring to him—and still more strangely, depending on him—to focus their energies and coordinate their work for the Order. Remus wasn't quite sure whence this newfound precedence had come. More than once, he tentatively offered to cede authority to others, but found they were all too busy, too preoccupied with their own missions, anxieties, or private lives, to accept.

"Much as I would like to relieve such a volatile and changeable—man—of these taxing responsibilities," sneered Severus Snape, "I am afraid that I am hardly in a position to do so. Some of us have jobs. I, for example, am needed at Hogwarts." He disapparated.

"Moony, you'll just have to get used to being prefect," counseled Sirius, sounding amused.

"I was a lousy prefect," muttered Remus. "I enticed my best friends to break about thirty-seven different laws about Animagus transformations, and I had no authority whatsoever with anyone past the third year."

Sirius took a swig of whiskey and clinked his glass on the kitchen table. "You set a fine example: reasonable, decent, responsible, not goody-goody. We respected you immensely." He added, with a glimmer in his eye, "We just didn't do anything you told us to."

"Lily was the one who set an example. A natural-born prefect if ever there was one. And everyone—or, well, everyone other than you and James—listened to her."

"Lily's dead." Remus and Sirius looked up, startled, to see Mad-Eye Moody stumping into the kitchen. "Sorry, boys, but there's no sense living in the past. It's a whole new world and a whole new war. Nothing undermines a fighter as much as getting mired in circumstances that are over and dead and gone. Constant vigilance!" Moody slammed his fist on the table. "And common sense. We'll make do with what we've got. You're the right man for the job, Remus."

"I'm a sick man, Alastor."

"You're the decentest werewolf I ever met," chuckled Mad-Eye. "And I've met a few. Seen the chip out of my wooden leg, just below the kneecap? Came from tripping over the bench outside the Three Broomsticks when Fenrir Greyback was chasing me through Hogsmeade, round about the end of the last war. Luckiest thing that ever happened to me, tripping over that bench. I fell through the window into the bar and Greyback just kept running. Anyway, the Order needs someone unemployed who's got time to spend at headquarters. And someone who knows how to control himself—not like Snuffles here," he added, tapping Sirius with his wand. "Be glad of what you've got to give."